WWF: RUSSIA HAS A CHANCE TO ESTABLISH EFFECTIVE FOREST MANAGEMENT
These regulations are the result of many years of efforts taken by academic organizations and NGOs, including WWF-Russia and leading forest sector companies which have sought to promote the development and introduction of effective and sustainable forest management. These ideas have been promoted for many years by WWF-Russia through the Public Council of Rosleskhoz (the Federal Forestry Agency of Russia) and the Boreal Forest Platform.
The transition to effective forest management is very important because accessible forest resources in many forested regions of the country are depleted. It is more and more challenging to ensure a steady supply of timber of a quality and variety required by the industry. Many mills are facing a shortage of timber. Loggers are forced to conduct logging in the most valuable forests, which have survived owing to their remoteness or legal protections –intact forest landscapes, protection forests, protected areas and other HCV sites.
Conifers and valuable broadleaved stands (oak, elm) which are the key resource base for the industry are steadily becoming replaced by secondary forests dominated by aspen and birch. This situation is the result of a lack of proper silviculture at most felling sites. The necessary tending measures are not carried out or carried out to a low standard. Until now one of the reasons was ineffective legislation which made implementation of effective forest thinning virtually impossible and provided no incentives for high quality regeneration.
“New regulations will help to reverse the negative trend of substitution of conifers by aspen and birch and enable the transition to sustainable forest management. This would help to increase the quality and volumes of commercially valuable timber and ensure the conservation of the most ecologically valuable stands. Today there is virtually no economic activity in the forest. New Regulations provide an opportunity for the development of a completely new and economically effective model of forest management,” said Boris Romanyk, one of the key authors of the new Regulations, the Head of the Department for Forest Use and Forest Management of St. Petersburg Forestry Research Institute
WWF-Russia believes that the new Regulations provide a means for companies willing and able to implement effective forest management to overcome artificial bureaucratic barriers in three forest areas at once.
The approval of the new Regulations makes it possible to start the implementation of effective forestry management techniques in some forest areas of the Russian North-West and Central Siberia. Now the same regulations are under development in other areas of Russia.
While these regulations are useful and important, WWF-Russia would like to note several deficiencies. The regulations enable the implementation of advanced forestry techniques in pilot forest areas, but at the same time worsen the situation in the rest of the country. In the view of WWF experts, the Regulations have reestablishing logging methods, that were previously banned because of their adverse influence on forests. The Regulations are inconsistent and difficult to understand. The Regulations are focused on micromanaging forest operations rather than achieving the broader objective of establishing economically and environmentally valuable stands. That is why there is a risk that unless the new effective forestry techniques are implemented for all forest areas of the country, the quality of forest resources and conservation of HCVFs will deteriorate.
Headline photo: (c) WWF-Russia