WWF and Greenpeace: starting from 1 July, Russia will start losing protected forests and fish resources
The law will come into force on 1st of July, 2019 and will jeopardize the future of valuable fish species and 50 million hectares of forests.
"The connection between the forests and the rivers is obvious to everyone. Everyone knows that as a result of logging, rivers become shallow. Any amateur fisherman knows that. Careless attitude to forest and fish resources on the part of the authorities, currently being observed, is simply unacceptable. In the near future, we will all have the opportunity to clearly see the connection between the forests and the rivers: when after the degradation of protected forests in our rivers and lakes, there will be less and less fish, and fish products in stores will become even less accessible to most citizens," says Nikolay Shmatkov, WWF-Russia’s Forest Program Director.
Federal law No. 538-FZ "On Amendments to the Forest Code of the Russian Federation and Certain Legislative Acts of the Russian Federation to Improve Legal Regulation of Acts on Conservation of Forests on Lands of the Forest Fund and Lands of other Categories", signed by the President of the Russian Federation on 27.12.2018, directly contradicts his own Order (No. PR-1037 of 07.05.2013), pursuant to which it was developed.
"The adopted law does not raise the status of protected forests and does not make the management in them more reasonable, but, on the contrary, can lead to the loss of up to 50 million hectares of these forests, i.e. almost one fifth of them. Moreover, in the forests of water protection zones, salvage clear-cut is allowed without any special restrictions, and this, with the existing practice, will inevitably lead to the destruction of the banks and soil ablation into watercourses. Additional restrictions on logging are imposed only for a very small proportion of protected forests, i.e. nut-bearing zones, which account for only about one percent of all forests in the country," says Alexey Yaroshenko, Head of Forest Department of Greenpeace Russia.
The main problematic part of this law is the new criteria for the assigning of forest areas to the category of spawning forest zones. This category of protected forests was created to preserve coastal zones of water bodies where spawning migrations and spawning of valuable fish species take place. Under the new law, the size of such spawning forest zones is reduced from 1 km to 50-200 meters. As a result, the total area of spawning forest zones will decrease by more than 10 times, which will threaten the degradation of the spawning grounds of Pacific salmon, Atlantic salmon, sturgeon, whitefish and other valuable fish species. Degradation of fishery resources will affect everyone: amateur fishermen, fish business, and ordinary consumers.
WWF-Russia has already sent to the President of the Russian Federation and the Federation Council a detailed analysis of the changes introduced by the law for each category of protected forests, along with the official requests to return the draft-law for revision. Like numerous appeals of other environmental organizations, they were ignored. Now, in order to draw public attention to the problem of conservation of protected forests and their high importance, official letters were sent not only to the Russian authorities, but also to the largest international organizations that initiated and support the International Year of Salmon 2019, which Russia officially joined.
"It is a sad irony that the law adopted in the International Year of Salmon, which is really significant for salmon and other fish species, is a law with negative impact. Adopted without any appropriate research, contrary to numerous objections of the scientific community and environmental organizations, the law will enter into force on July 1, and from that moment the fate of 50 million hectares of protected forests along the spawning zones of water bodies will be predetermined – as a result of degradation due to logging their area will be reduced by more than 10 times. We will lose not only the ecologically valuable forests that preserve the soil from degradation, protect our rivers from shallowing and are the most important component of the planet's ecosystem. The country's food security and conservation of aquatic biological resources in general will be threatened," says Miron Borgulev, WWF-Russia’s Head of Sustainable Marine Fishery Program.
Learn more about the official position of WWF-Russia and Greenpeace Russia and the proposed urgent measures to prevent the negative impact of the law.
Preview an headline photos: (c) Gennady Aleksandrov / WWF-Russia