Komi Model Forest has been actualized on the territory of the Priluzski forestry unit in the Republic of Komi occupying the area of 800 000 hectares since 1997. The main objective of the project is the development of the efficient regional model of the sustainable forest management prepared for experience exchange. Over the years of the project implementation (since 1996) significant results have been achieved in such important aspects as detection and sustainable use of virgin forests, forest biodiversity preservation, voluntary forest certification, forest management economy, local population participation in forest management, training and development of the forestry personnel, etc. which were considered to be innovative at that period.
Such directions of the model forest activity were decided on, discussed and carefully planned in 1997-1998 by a group of experts concerned who earlier represented various authorities, agencies and organizations either competing or cooperating insignificantly. The comprehensive approach in use has determined the stability of the project development for the recent 10 years, its innovativeness, fruitfulness and significance of the results achieved. In 1998, for example, very few believed in the possibility of forest certification, whereas in 2009 certified forests and products are of no wonder.
Over the years of the project existence considerable changes have been introduced in the forest sector and timber industry structure, in the forestry legislation and legal environment. New challenges have appeared, such as forestry intensification, global climate change, carbon flow management in forest management and others. All that caused vital need in Model Forest long-term priority detection and midterm strategic planning.
At the end of 2009 Silver Taiga Foundation formed a Working Group focusing on the Komi Model Forest strategic planning for 2010-2020. It included the representatives of forestry units, regional social organizations, industrial institutes from Murmansk and Archangelsk regions and the Republic of Tatarstan, departmental officers of the Komi Republic Ministry of Industry and Energy, delegates of the Forest Committee of the Republic of Komi, Syktyvkar Forest Institute and the Institute of the Socio-Economic and Energy Problems in the North of the Russian Academy of Science.
Three sessions devoted to various issues were held in November and December of 2009. During the first session the main project results for the previous period were presented by the Silver Taiga foundation to the working team members. After that the most urgent forest management strategic problems in the region were jointly defined.
Among the 10 issues which are the most critical for the prospective forest sector of the republic the following ones were considered high-priority by the Working Group members:
- intensification of forestry;
- climate change and carbon flow management in forestry;
- forest river and watershed management;
- comprehensive use of forest resources.
By means of discussing the significance of the intensive forestry management for the region and methods of its implementation the Working Group members demonstrated the current and future socio-economic problems that can be solved with the help of forest cultivation intensification. They also dwelled on why intensive forestry management is so hard to introduce in Russia and to what extent it is reasonable to develop the Scandinavian model of intensive forestry management in the conditions of Komi.
In the course of discussion of the comprehensive aesthetic watershed and forest river management it was noted that the use of water, river and related fish resources is far from efficient nowadays. In the meantime many foreign countries have developed their know-how for successful handling such problems. Therefore the Working Group objective was to determine the methods and tools of increasing water management efficiency in the area. What shall be done by so many “cooks”, by those who use and manage forest, water and fish resources, not to “spoil the broth”, i.e. how to correlate forestry, logging, fish and water resources to maintain their efficient management in the long-term perspective.
The climate change problem and the issue of forestry carbon flow management related to it were discussed at the International Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen. It was stated there that the issues have been thoroughly studied by science whereas they are absolute Terra Incognito for forest management authorities in Russia and Komi. The situation with the carbon cycle in forestry is similar to the one which prevailed in the sphere of forest certification 10 years ago. For this reason the efforts of Komi Model Forest project could launch testing and introduction of new forest management methods and tools with regard to the global character of the problem and its relevance on regional, national and international levels.
The final session of the Working Group held on 24-26 December 2009 was focused on comprehensive forest exploitation. At present forest management mostly deals with wood exploitation management. However, forest resources are much more various and apart from wood they include non-wood and recreation resources, biodiversity, ecosystem services, cultural and aesthetic values.
The beginning of 2010 will see a number of meetings on Komi Model Forest strategic planning again. Their results will serve to help develop an action plan for Komi Model Forest project for the coming decade, conceive specific projects and detect means of their financing and implementation.