What problems does sustainable forest management face in Russia?
Discrepancies in the system of the Russian forest legislation is the main reason for that. This was the common opinion of participants of the Roundtable organized by WWF at the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in early November 2010.
Representatives of the Russian legislative bodies, Russian federal Forest Service, regional authorities, forestry businesses, supervising and control entities of forest management and environmental NGOs were invited to this meeting.
Current Russian forest legislation cannot completely safeguard effective forest use, forests recovery, protection and conservation based on the principles of sustainable development, biodiversity conservation and maintaining ecological sustainability. There are no official documents nor formal procedures so far which could reliably confirm legal status of timber. This puts Russia into a difficult situation with regard to the new US and EU legislation on preventing illegal forest products trade.
In such circumstances the voluntary certification such as FSC can serve as a reliable approach toward ensuring sustainable forest management. However, there exists obvious gaps between Russian laws and standards of such certification in the forestry sector. The Roundtable participants believed that Russian legislation should create conditions for implementation of internationally recognized principles and criteria of sustainable forest management as well as conditions for forest certification. Russian forest sector legislation requires considerable improvements, with official introduction of such terms as: "forests of high environmental value", "illegal logging" and "illegal timber trade".
This Roundtable was organized within the framework of the ENPI FLEG program. WWF, as one of the Program’s Implementing Organizations, actively involves new participants from forestry sector to discussions and decision making related to important forestry issues.
"The major task of WWF in this Program is to work with forest businesses and introduce concrete FLEG activities into the work of the leading Russian forest industry businesses and their partners. Now the active process of preparing amendments to the Forest Code is underway. Opinion of environmentally responsible businesses should be taken into account. This was the main task of the Roundtable" – said Elena Kulikova, Head of WWF Forestry Program.
The meeting confirmed once again that forestry businesses representatives and environmental institutions had a common view on many questions and would be ready to cooperate in improving forestry legislation. Concrete suggestions and amendments to the Russian Forest Code and other forestry sector legislation are reflected in the Resolution approved at the Roundtable. This document will be forwarded to relevant legislative and executive power authorities.