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Премия рунета 2017

WWF-Russia Reviews Lawfulness of Salvage Logging in Karachay-Cherkessia

17 april 2018
WWF-Russia has reviewed validity of the materials underlying salvage logging in the Karachay-Cherkess Republic.
Russian legislation in the part of forest protection against pests and diseases was changed significantly in 2016. One of the novel requirements is to publish all forest pathology reports in the Internet. 

Forest Pathology Inspection Acts is a document prepared by a duly authorized person (forest pathologist) in the course of a forest pathology research aimed at the assessment of the forest condition, identification of the areas affected by pests and/or diseases, and development of needed measures. Forest Pathology Inspection Act is an underlying document defining salvage logging and other needed measures for a specific forest area. These may include clearcut and selective logging, removal of unmerchantable timber and unsafe trees, etc. 

These measures are important and beneficial for the forests, but forest users often consider them as a loophole for commercial logging in the protected areas and other forests of high conservation value.  

Federal Law of the Russian Federation No. 455-FZ of December 30, 2015 On Amendments to the Forest Code of the Russian Federation in Terms of Improving the Regulation of the Forest Protection Against Pests, in force since October 01, 2016, provides for public involvement into the control over development and implementation of salvage logging. Therefore, any stakeholder can inquire into the proposed measures before their implementation. In furtherance of this right, we reviewed the web-site of the Forest Administration of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic and sampled 28 Forest Pathology Inspection Acts for analysis.

Expert evaluation revealed drawbacks in most of them. 

Mismatch between the coordinates of unsafe trees (yellow stars) and logging site (red dots) in the Forest Pathology Inspection Acts No. 3 and No. 4 in the Zelenchuk Forest Management Unit is about 750 m.
(с) WWF-Russia

  • The most critical mistakes are those related to inaccurate mapping of the plots suggested for the salvage logging. For example, in some cases a report quotes coordinates of unsafe trees 750 m away from the coordinates of the logging site where the trees should be actually logged. These findings lead to conclusion that in most cases the coordinates in the Forest Pathology Inspection Acts were determined at the office desk using referenced official forest inventory maps, which had had significant errors.
  • Another important observation is the lack of the complete lists of trees in the attachments to the Forest Pathology Inspection Acts; the lists contain only the prevailing stand species. It is a clear violation of the clause 43 of Annex 1 to the Order of the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia No. 48 of September 16, 2016 (Procedure of the Forest Pathology Research, 2016), which requires enumeration survey to be carried out in any forest sites under 3 ha, regardless of whether the tree species are forest forming or auxiliary ones. These could also indicate either formalistic attitude to the survey and poor-quality forest pathology research, or that the Acts were prepared at the office desk, without preliminary field visit and onsite survey.
  • Some Acts contain data about the forest stands which contradict satellite images.

Therefore, it may be assumed that at least part of the forest pathology inspections was conducted remotely, expecting that the loggers would have good knowledge of both the forest territory and the objects of salvage logging.

WWF-Russia submitted results of the analysis to the Forest Administration of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic and the Forestry Department of the Southern Federal District asking to cancel the Reports with significant violations, and to carry out root cause analysis of the mistakes and reissue the Acts if the salvage logging is justified.

"Consequently, we were informed that only one Act which provided for a clearcut salvage logging was canceled. However, we insist that using the coordinates from the Forest Pathology Inspection Acts would likely result in logging some trees beyond the Acts which will constitute an illegal logging. Based on the results of this office control investigation, WWF-Russia is going to carry out onsite inspections," said Elena Cherkasova, Forest Project Coordinator at the Russian Caucasus Office of WWF-Russia.
Preview and headline photos: (c) WWF-Russia
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