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Алексей Ярошенко, руководитель лесного отдела Гринпис

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January 17, 2017, Moscow

Voluntary forest certification can be an effective market mechanism to facilitate the development of environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable forest management. It is especially important and needed in the countries where, due to various reasons (underdevelopment of forest legislation, weak forest management authorities, insufficient civil society influence) other mechanisms contributing to the proper forest management evolution can be inadequate. Some of the most important conditions must be met for the voluntary forest certification to contribute to the progress of forest management. Otherwise, the certification can become a mechanism for the creation of a positive image for irresponsible environmental and social approaches to forest management.

We believe that to support and promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of forests in Russia, all systems of voluntary forest certification and other market mechanisms aimed to support the forest sector must meet the following conditions:

1. Focus on the gradual transition from pioneer logging in the last primary forests (intact forest landscapes, IFLs) to efficient forestry in earlier developed forest lands and the lands that can be used for forestry without damage to other sectors of the economy, for example, those withdrawn from agricultural use. The development of intact forest landscapes may be seen as a temporary undesirable measure to preserve the viability of forest villages and businesses during the transition period to effective forest management, but it should not be regarded as normal practice to establish and develop new enterprises in the forest sector. Any certified enterprise that harvests in IFLs, should have a realistic and time-bound plan of transition from new developments in IFLs to proper forest management in earlier harvested areas.

2. Ensuring sustainable forest use. Sustainability shall be ensured in the forests that are accessible for harvesting, especially those of key business importance (forests with prevailing coniferous species, such as pine, spruce, fir, cedar, and valuable hardwood species, such as oak, beech, ash), by excluding from the annual allowable cut all sites where forest management could not be implemented due to various restrictions imposed by law or by obligations undertaken voluntarily by forest users.

3. Provision of conservation in the existing and planned (included into federal and regional landuse planning schemes, protected areas (PA) development schemes, forest management plans and other similar documents). No activity shall be conducted within the boundaries of the existing and planned PAs, which leads to loss or degradation (including fragmentation) of natural systems, which are to be preserved by means of establishing such an existing or planned PA. If for some reason establishment of a planned PA is delayed, preservation of natural systems shall be provided for an indefinite period, until a final decision on PA borders and the regime of such planned PA is taken.

4. Availability of an effective system for the preservation of rare species listed in Red Data Books of the Russian Federation and its subjects, and their habitats. Key habitats of rare species from the Red Data Books or identified as a result of special surveys conducted by qualified biologists should be excluded from logging or the above mentioned qualified experts shall develop a special harvesting regime to ensure the preservation of such rare species and habitats.

5. Biodiversity preservation measures in productive forests. Certified companies shall apply a system of measures aimed at identification and preservation of key elements in harvested areas that are important to maintain biodiversity in addition to the direct requirements of forest management plan and other forest regulations.

The measures to save the last primary forests, to ensure sustainability of forest management, to preserve the existing and planned PAs and to establish a system of conservation of rare species and biodiversity in productive forests shall be a priority and shall be carried out unconditionally. In addition, within the framework of the established procedures and standards, the sustainable forest management requirements, high conservation forests conservation, environmental, water-conservation, protective, sanitary, recreational and other useful forest functions shall be met.

We consider "environmental dumping" in the field of voluntary forest certification and other market support mechanisms in the forest sector unacceptable. No system of voluntary forest certification and other market mechanisms of the forest sector support shall be developed at the expense of refusal from the requirements for IFL conservation, ensuring sustainability of forest management, preserving the existing and planned PA and habitats of rare species and biological diversity. Any voluntary forest certification system that does not provide for the fulfillment of such requirements shall not receive recognition and support from environmental organizations or consumers of forest products.

We also believe that a responsible system of voluntary forest certification shall provide a high level of data transparency, including publishing information about sources and places of origin of certified and controlled wood, summaries of management plans, plans for transition from pioneer logging in IFLs to proper forest management, actions for the conservation of rare species and biodiversity in publicly accessible sources.

We appeal to the voluntary forest certification schemes to ensure the implementation of such requirements, for instance, by upgrading the standards and monitoring their fulfillment.

We appeal to the companies, both certified by any voluntary forest certification scheme and those which are not certified, to ensure conservation of IFLs, the natural values of the existing and planned PAs, biodiversity and forest management sustainability. It may be also achieving in the dialog with environmental NGOs.

These requirements reflect the forest certification status in Russia as of the beginning of 2017. In the case of a significant change in this situation they may be amended or revised.

Nikolay Shmatkov, WWF Russia Forest Program Director

Alexey Yaroshenko, Head of Forest Department, Greenpeace Russia


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