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СообщениеДобавлено: 03 окт 2019, 21:58 
Татьяна Хакимулина, сотрудник Гринпис

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Russia has just established one of the largest regional protected area, which Greenpeace and WWF Russia have campaigned on for over two decades!

On October 1, 2019, the Arkhangelsk regional government finally signed an official decree establishing “Dvinsko-Pinezhsky” regional nature reserve, protecting 300 thousand hectares of pristine plain spruce forests. The new protected area is larger than the size of Luxembourg and almost as big as Maryland State, USA.

The new nature reserve covers the core part of an Intact Forest Landscape located in the center of the interfluve between Northern Dvina and Pinega rivers in the Northern European part of Russia.

Location of the new “Dvinsko-Pinezhsky” forest reserve within the Dvinsky Intact Forest Landscape, Dvina-pinega interfluve.
The recent Landsat 8 satellite images explicitly demonstrate the degradation of Dvinsky forest in the last 19 years.
Click on the map for a better resolution image.

The large pristine forest massif in the center of the Dvina-Pinega interfluve (also known as Dvinsky forest) has stood tall for centuries without significant human impacts. It developed under natural disturbance processes, representing an etalon of a boreal forest wilderness.

The first demands for protection of this forest were made by Arkhangelsk scientists in the mid 1990’s. The exact boundaries of Dvinsky forest were delineated by Greenpeace specialists in 1999 - then for the first time the IFL methodology was tested here. Thus this area became the motherland of the Intact Forest Landscapes (IFL) concept, which has been later replicated all across the world’s forests.
The detailed on the ground surveys in 2000-2001 confirmed the very high conservation values of this area.

In 2003, the newly created Arkhangelsk division of WWF joined the campaign on creating this reserve. Since then Greenpeace and WWF Russia have worked together on this issue.

Since 2007, the reserve establishment has been repeatedly included in the official plans for the Arkhangelsk regional development plans but each time it was postponed due to the powerful opposition from logging companies operating in the area. Meanwhile the Intact Forest Landscape was rapidly degrading and shrinking due to barbaric FSC certified logging and fragmentation. Since the year 2000, when the size of the IFL exceeded 1 150 000 hectares, it decreased to almost 700 000 hectares by 2019. Thus in these 19 years Dvinsky forest lost 39% of the area.

Annual IFL loss over the last 19 years (2000-2019) and the final borders of established
Dvinsko-Pinezhsky protected area within the Dvinsky forest.

Only on April 19, 2018, the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Arkhangelsk Region, the relevant logging companies (forest leaseholders), WWF Russia and Greenpeace Russia signed an agreement on the final boundaries of the reserve. Even after that, the process of its creation was not going smoothly, but ultimately the reserve was established.

Although the new reserve is far from the optimal size and shape, it is still a good result taking into account that the life and economy of most settlements located in the Dvina-Pinega interfluve (inhabited in total by nearly 17 thousand people) depends on the wood extraction.

The territory of newly established reserve not only includes the old-growth forests, which cover about 96% of its area, but also creates diverse habitats for many red-listed species. Moreover, the reserve is of great importance for mitigating the impacts of climate change, as old-growth boreal forests accumulate several times more carbon, than secondary forests in the soil, forest litter and dead wood. These old-growth spruce forests are capable of retaining and regulating moisture during severe droughts, which is why they rarely suffer from catastrophic fires and avoid the release of accumulated carbon for many centuries.

The Dvina-Pinega interfluve is also a motherland of voluntary forest certification in Russia. The FSC certification (apart from short-term small case in Siberia) started here, in Dvina-Pinega interfluve in the year 2000. Since then forest management certification has covered most of the large logging companies in the Arkhangelsk region. And the FSC Controlled Wood system covered nearly the rest of them.

However during these two decades of forest certification presence and over more than a decade of FSC’s dominance in the regional forest industry and timber trade, the forestry practices has not shown much improvements on the ground.

As with anywhere in Russia’s boreal forests, a primitive forestry practices are the norm in the Arkhangelsk region. Old-growth forests are often seen as cheap natural deposit of wood, and logging are seen as a development of this deposit. Forests are logged and left for self-regeneration without any intent to restore it through silvicultural treatments. Such practices do not ensure reproduction of the economically valuable tree species during the typical forest rotation periods. This creates deficit of good quality timber across the region and forces the unsuccessful “forest managers” to move their operations to new areas of ecologically valuable Intact Forest Landscapes.

The typical chess-shaped clearcuts in an old-growth spruce forests in the interfluve.
The second wave of logging will cut down the remaining forests.

New road leading to the logging sites in Dvinsky forest.
During the rains the soil is washed into to the nearby forest streams and rivers.

Some roads are only built for exploitation during the winter time

This forestry model (often called a ‘wood mining’) does not have future. It is environmentally destructive as it leads to the loss of the last remaining forest wilderness areas in the region, it is socially damaging as it takes away jobs related to the growing and cultivation of trees (ie silviculture) and leads to the decline of forest-dependent settlements following the depletion of forest resources.

Yet, thanks to FSC, this ‘wood mining’ is now called “environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable” forest management, despite the fact that it still remains just a ‘wood mining’ model with all related problems.

Therefore, although the establishment of nature reserve in Dvinsky forest is very important, it is only a first step towards a genuine ecologically and socially sustainable development of this area.

Greenpeace will continue its campaign to improve forest management practices in Arkhangelsk region and in all boreal forests. Our aim is that the forest management should shift from ‘wood mining’ to responsible management and proper silviculture in secondary forests in most developed and appropriate areas. Such secondary forests cover approximately 40 to 50% of the Dvina-Pinega interfluve and are located mainly near the Northern Dvina and Pinega rivers, near large settlements and main roads. For the rest of the Dvina-Pinega area the existing practices also needs to be greatly reformed. New measures need to be developed and implemented to ensure to some extent the retention of forest environment after logging. This would allow for quicker and easier restoration of the forest ecosystem and climate regulating functions of the forests after inevitable collapse of the ‘wood mining’ model.

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