WWF-Russia called on the Federal Forestry Agency to disclose the forest data to the public
This year, WWF's annual global action ‘Earth Hour’, held in Russia with the support of the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia and the Government of Moscow, is dedicated to the openness of environmental information. As part of this campaign and ahead of the International Day of Forests celebrated worldwide on March 21, WWF-Russia sent an official appeal to the Federal Forestry Agency to increase the amount and quality of the information about the forests published on the website of the agency, its subordinate organizations, and regional authorities.
Public access to forest information ensures the rights of citizens to such information, and helps improve its quality through public monitoring. It also provides effective control and supervision of forest relations, thus preventing illegal logging. According to WWF-Russia, the requirements for the availability of the publicly available information about the forests are stipulated in the Forest Code of the Russian Federation, and a number of the regulations, including Federal Law No. 39-FZ ‘On Amendments to the Federal Law ‘On Environmental Protection’ and certain legislative acts of the Russian Federation", etc.
‘In recent years, the amount of forest data available to the public has increased significantly. However, today, not all the data that should be publicly available according to the regulatory documents is open to the citizens. Much of the information that is critical to society remains confidential, or is in a form that makes it difficult to find and process it. We are convinced that the disclosure of all the relevant forest data to the public will contribute to the sustainable management of the country's forest resources and the development of the forest industry, as well as to improving the effectiveness of cooperation between the state and society as a whole. Every Russian citizen has the right to a favorable environment and access to reliable environmental information, including forest data,’ says Andrey Shegolev, WWF-Russia's Forest Program Director.
WWF-Russia calls on the Federal Forestry Agency to:
- publish the materials of the State Forest Inventory (SFI) in full, including primary data;
- publish all the orders of the Federal Forestry Agency on the assignment of the forests in the territory of the subjects of the Russian Federation to protective, operational and reserve forests, on the determination of the number of forest areas and the establishment of their borders;
- develop and implement a digital form of the forest pathology survey report, with the mandatory indefinite storage of all reports in a centralized database and the possibility of their free download in open data format;
- provide for the inclusion in the ISDM-Rosleskhoz system of a software interface for data exchange (API) in the open data format to view and analyze the data on fires and fire-fighting measures in external systems;
- ensure mandatory publication of the information on the forest management boundaries (in the format of geo-linked open data) of leased forest sites, the boundaries of all categories of protected forests, including SPNA, OZU, as well as on the boundaries of all legally assigned harvest areas (on all types of grounds for forest management rights, including lease contracts, forest stand sale contracts, state contracts and assignments, contracts for permanent (indefinite) management of forest plots, etc.);
- oblige the regional state authorities responsible for forest relations to publish on their websites all acts of inspection of forest areas after they are compiled;
- submit a proposal to the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation to include the provisions on the publication of the information on the forests in the draft Resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation on the approval of the rules for the placement of the environmental information.
WWF-Russia notes that it will be necessary to develop and make appropriate changes to the regulatory framework. Such changes, firstly, should oblige the owners of the data obtained at public expense to disclose them, and secondly, to ensure the creation and functioning of a single information space with the forest data. WWF-Russia is convinced that the introduction of digital technologies will ensure both internal and independent control over forest management processes and reduce the number of errors that lead to negative consequences for forests.
Preview photo: (c) Anatoly Kabanets / WWF-Russia. Headline photo: (c) Gennady Alexandrov / WWF-Russia.