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WWF COOPERATES WITH CUSTOMS TO PREVENT THE SMUGGLING OF CAUCASIAN FOREST

09 february 2021
The Federal Customs Service inquired WWF about detailed data for averting the smuggling of forest abroad and conducting the investigation after news about the illegal fellings in Karachay-Cherkess conducted from 2015 to 2019.

What’s happened?

The General Department of Anti-Smuggling of the Federal Customs Service of Russian Federation applied to WWF-Russia for the information, which became known to Fund about the illegal fellings in the Karachay-Cherkess Republic.

"As a rule, a significant amount of timber smuggled abroad is of illegal origin," the FCS letter says.

What was the reason for the appeal?

At the end of 2020, WWF-Russia released the press release on that the Forest Administration of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic is known for assigning fellings in 71 designated areas with almost 100ga territory in the Karachaevo- Circassian republic within 4 year (from 2015 to 2019). Presumably, the damage from such acts can amount to tens of millions of rubles.

At the same time, in November, the Karachay-Cherkess police forwarded the records on this case to the Investigative Committee of the Republic.

And a little later, in January 2021, WWF received an appeal from the Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation.

What did WWF-Russia reply?

WWF-Russia has provided the Federal Customs Service with all available information as well as drew attention that the Fund detected the maximum number of violations in Urupskiy Forestry of Karachay-Cherkess Republic (the valley of the Bolshaya Laba river). WWF also sent data to the Customs that during the analysis of the information open to public published in the system "Forest Inventory and Transactions Therewith", the Fund's employees managed to find out that some of the wood logged in Urupskiy district was sold to companies registered in Georgia and Armenia.

In addition, in November 2018, near the sawmills located in the village Kurdzhinovo, WWF volunteers of the Autonomous Non-Commercial Organization “Green shield of the Caucasus”" found a parking lot of trucks with Georgian plate numbers, some of which were loaded with timber, and some were waiting for loading.

What are the results?

By letter, The General Department of Anti-Smuggling of the Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation expressed its gratitude to WWF-Russia for the information provided and noted that:

> as a result of the audit, participants in foreign economic activity who exported timber to foreign companies were identified;

> additional verification activities have been organized.

The Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation also expressed interest in further cooperation.

"We are also interested in cooperation and are ready to help the Federal Customs Service in preventing illegal trade and smuggling of wood from the Caucasus," says Elena Cherkasova, Senior Coordinator of Russian Caucasus Ecoregional Office WWF-Russia. – It is important for us to stop illegal logging in the region. I am very happy when representatives of the federal services monitor such news and get in touch to solve the problem together."

(с) WWF-Russia
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