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WWF: only an immediate moratorium can save linden

18 april 2018
According to WWF-Russia, the real volume of linden logged in the Russian Far East for export exceeds the officially reported volume by 4 times. It is quite possible that we already lost one of the Far Eastern linden tree species.

In the Russian Far East linden is represented by three species:  Amur linden (Tilia amurensis), Manchurian linden (Tilia mandshurica) and Taquetii linden(Tilia taquetii). They are the most valuable nectar bearing plants. Logging of linden makes a lot of harm to the Ussury taiga and bee keepers – an important and unique component of social and economic development of the Russian Far East.  About 10 years public organizations of Primorsky province raise serious concern about linden logging. 

Loggs for export instead of honey
(c) Anatoly Kabanets / WWF-Russia

Chronicles:

Summer, 2015 – the Governor of Primorsky province initiated the forming of the working group to elaborate recommendations on linden conservation;

Autumn, 2016 – governors of Primorsky, Khabarovsky, Amurskaya and Evreiskaya provinces elaborated the decision and signed the letter addressed to the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Russia with the proposal to include linden (Tlia amurensis, Tilia mandshurica and Tilia taquetii) into the list of tree species prohibited for logging;

March, 2017 – the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Federal Forestry Agency prepared the draft decree to include linden in the list of species prohibited for logging, the draft was open for discussion on the website regulation.gov.ru;

May, 2017 – negative reaction from timber industry lobby, the process of the decree approval is delayed;

March, 2018 – the meeting of timber industry representatives was organized in Khabarovsk to cancel the draft decree on prohibiting linden logging.

Meanwhile, along with hot debates around the draft decree, massive logging of linden continues dramatically exceeding allowed volumes.

Loggs instead of honey. Illegal linden cut
(c) Anatoly Kabanets / WWF-Russia

Earlier in WWF-Russia reports the experts already informed about rapid growth in linden timber exports. However, the analysis of customs data carried out by WWF-Russia in April 2018 has proved that urgent measures are needed now. For the first time, the export of linden sawnwood (board, veneer) exceeded the officially reported volume of liquid timber (merchantable and firewood). In 2016, this overrun amounted to 27%: according to official data, 171 800m³ of linden was logged, however, 218 966m³ of processed timber crossed the border to China!

The real timber volume for production of such amount of sawnwood is even higher, considering losses during processing, and makes 0.75 mln m³, that is by 4.35 times higher than officially logged volume.

Moreover, domestic consumption was not considered in these calculations; therefore, the total volume of logged linden is much higher.

Dynamics of linden exports
(c) WWF-Russia
Ramil Enikeev, the Union of bee-keepers of Primorsky province, Peter Osipov, director of WWF-Russia Amur branch, Olga Ukhvatkina, the Biodiversity Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences
(c) WWF-Russia
“Unprecedented data that we received on linden logging and exports require urgent measures. The fixed overcut by 4.35 times indicates the lack of control over forest use and timber turnover in the region. In fact, the rare and valuable honey bearing plant is being eliminated, and there could be the point of no return both for timber industry and for bee keeping. Undoubtedly, this negatively impacts the Amur tiger habitats, - comments Peter Osipov, director of WWF-Russia Amur branch. - However, we don’t know what linden species out of three is the most overlogged, because all three are considered in total linden stands. It is very possible that we already lost one of linden species.”

In this connection WWF-Russia calls for the introduction of an immediate moratorium on linden logging until comprehensive assessment of linden species status is carried out, as well as effective measures are elaborated to prevent linden from extinction.

These measures may include both a complete ban on linden logging by including all three species into the List of species prohibited for logging, as well as a possible ban on its export.

«There are 6500 bee-keepers in Primorsky province and 500 more are involved in the processing and packing. They pay taxes, create work places for local people, actively promote Primorsky honey both on domestic and international markets. Linden is the main nectar bearing plant in Primorye. Before 2007, its logging was prohibited and there were no conflicts between timber industry and bee keepers. We suggest to return this protected status to our endemic linden species,” comments Ramil Enikeev, the chairman of the Union of bee-keepers of Primorsky province.
Stubs instead of taiga
(c) Anatoly Kabanets / WWF-Russia
Headline photo: (c) WWF-Russia
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