ALMOST 200 DESIGNATED AREAS HAVE BEEN APPOINTED ILLEGAL LOGGING BY THE MINISTRY OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT OF THE KUBAN FOR 5 YEARS
WWF-Russia has been monitoring the legitimacy of logging in Krasnodar region since 2017. Inspections include both field trips to the forest and analysis of open records.
According to the Forestry Code of the Russian Federation, it is prohibited to harvest wood on designated areas. However, the practice of assigning logging in such areas has existed for quite a long time in Krasnodar region. WWF-Russia revealed this through a retrospective analysis of the site's archives on torgi.gov, where the documents of auctions for the licency to harvest wood are published.
During the analysis, WWF revealed that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Krasnodar region had allocated 195 sites belonging to the category of designated areas for logging for 5 years (from 2014 to 2018).
In 2014, 52 logging operations were scheduled on the territory of designated areas and it was planned to cut down 7562 cubic meters of wood – this is the volume of about 150 railway cars.
2015 was a record year for the number and volume of designated illegal logging in Krasnodar region - 91 sites (10,602 cubic meters – approximately 212 railway cars).
In 2016, the number decreased slightly. Then the Ministry assigned 42 sites of designated areas to the felling. Although the volumes did not fall – it was planned to cut down 8,995 cubic meters of wood.
But in 2017, the number sharply declined, decreasing by 5 times. This was the very year when WWF-Russia launched a project to monitor the legitimacy of logging. In 2017, only 9 sites with the status of designated areas with the planned volume of harvesting of 1657 cubic meters were assigned to the cutting.
And in 2018, only 1 designated area with the felling volume of 221 cubic meters was allocated.
"We are certain that according to the documents, these areas were designated for logging. In order to record the fact of logging, it is necessary to conduct field verification activities for each assigned illegal logging, to count the volume of felled wood and the damage," - explains Elena Cherkasova, Senior Forest Officer of Russian Caucasus Ecoregional Office WWF-Russia. - As a rule, law enforcement agencies are reluctant to investigate cases filed long time ago, so we don’t plan to contact the authorities, however, we consider it necessary to tell that such a practice existed."
It is worth noting that in 2019, the appointment of logging in designated areas as part of auctions has stopped, and in 2020, there were no auctions at all. Perhaps the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Krasnodar region has corrected its mistakes, which is undoubtedly a positive result of the work done by WWF-Russia.
It should be noted that the top-3 Forestries appointing illegal logging in the designated areas are Afipskiy (79 units), Abinskiy (64 units) and Dzhubga (43 units).
The most frequent winner of auctions for wood harvesting, assigned to the designated areas, became State Budgetary Institution of Krasnodar region “Management of ‘Krasnodarles", - it won 23 times (mainly in 2015), - and Individual entrepreneur Volkhonskiy A.M., - he won 16 times (in 2019).
The analysis of the records was carried out by WWF-Russia in the framework of the Project "People for Nature".
The People for Nature project is implemented by WWF Russia and is funded by the EU. It aims at engaging a wider audience in environmental protection. The Project will run in 2019 – 2022. Its goals are to protect the forests through preventing degradation and illegal use of forests, and to reduce environmental impact caused by industrial processes through reducing air and water pollution and increasing the environmental responsibility of business.