On New Year’s Eve the interregional environmental organization «SPOK» (Republic of Karelia), «Kola Biodiversity Conservation Center » (Murmansk region), «Silver Taiga Foundation» (Komi Republic), «Green Wave» (St. Petersburg), WWF Arkhangelsk and also Greenpeace Russia send a letter to the Father Frost whose home is situated in Veliki Ustyug (Vologda region of Russia). The environmental organizations of the north-west of Russia asked the all-powerful Father Frost to help them to preserve valuable forests of Vologda region from destruction.
Dear our Colleagues!
We wish you only happiness and fortune in the coming New Year!
May our joint projects be successful and useful for everyone!
Silver Taiga team
The Forest Dialogue held in Objachevo (Priluzje district of Komi) was initiated by the administration of Priluzje district and Priluzje forestry unit. The urgent forest use issues were discussed during the Dialogue.
Among the participants of the Dialogue “Forest relations: problems and ways out” were: the heads of the district Council and Administration, Priluzje and Letka forestry units, representatives of Mondi Syktyvkar and Luzales ltd., the heads of the administration of all rural settlements of Priluzje district, activists of the district social entities – Priluzje branch of “Komi Voityr”, the district Council of Elders and the district Council of Veterans. The representatives of the Komi State Forestry Service, Komi State Council and Silver Taiga Foundation participated in the Dialogue as well. Therefore, all interested parties (municipal officials, forest business, state forestry service, social entities and local population) took part in the discussion of the local forest use problems.
What problems were discussed? According to Alexander Boiko, the economic development manager of the district Administration, the local population complains about loggings close to the villages, breaking of roads and brook bridges by the heavy vehicles. There are also complaints about late transportation of wood out of logging sites. Another problem according to Alexander Boiko is that the outside logging companies which are operating in the district don’t pay anything to the district budget and losses of their activity are not covered at all.
Andrei Navalikhin, department head of the Komi State Forestry Service, presented a forestry legislative review, problems raised due to legislative imperfection and possible ways out of these problems.
According to Andrei issues devoted to the participation of the local population in forest management and local forest use are not properly developed in the Forestry Code 2006 compared to the previous one. The situation is eased a bit by the Legislative Act of the Komi Republic №136 “Management of forest relations on the territory of the Komi Republic”. As for loggings close to the villages (according to the legislation this is a commercial forest area and that is why it is rented out to the logging companies), Andrei proposed two possible ways out taking into consideration the current forestry legislation. The first one – to rent out this area to the local government and so to delegate all management functions to the local authorities. But it is impossible to fulfill all the functions on the local level. The second one – legislative initiative on development of «social forests» as a type of a designated area. Andrei also gave the participants to understand that according to the Forestry Code there are no any green (protected) areas close to the villages and such areas can be developed and legalized only as one of the designated area types.
The discussion was continued by the head of Priluzje forestry unit Alexander Kindsfater. He told that the opinions of the local population concerning the use of the forests close to the villages differ. Even now many people are not satisfied that forest sites available for local population use are far from the villages.
Alexander noticed that that the problem is urgent and each situation should be analyzed individually. This idea was also supported by the head of Letka forestry unit Sergei Ketov. The leasing area of some logging companies (Luzales ltd., Northern Timber Company ltd.) is really very close to the villages. It should be mentioned, that Luzales ltd. has refused to cut on some area for the benefit of the local population.
The following issues were also brought up: control over loggings, state of the forest area after cutting. «Unfortunately, according to the legislation there can be only two types of a law violation: illegal cutting outside the leasing area and destruction of young trees», – said Andrei Navalikhin. – Moreover, the State Forestry Service can carry out an inspection of the leaseholders only once in three years». Besides, the quality of control has also suffered because of the staff reduction: it has reduced six times over the last 10 years. In this connection Andrei paid the participants’ attention on the fact that an extraordinary inspection can be done only according to the request of the local population. That is why the more people act in this direction, the less violations are done.
Head of the district Council of Elders Semen Tugolukov agreed with this opinion: it is necessary to conduct a departmental and a public control. By the way, according to the participants of the Dialogue it is necessary to conduct a public control not only in the forest: once again the issue of non-purpose use of wood, allocated for buildings by the local population was brought up. The first necessary condition of public control conduction is information awareness. Not by accident Semen Tugolukov remembered, that Mondi Syktyvkar sends letters to a wide range of the interested parties asking about forest areas important for the local population. They also attach maps to the letters. As for Luzales ltd. they don’t have such experience yet. We wish the other logging companies would also do the same. Besides, the participants of the Forest Dialogue proposed to each settlement to have a map of nearby forest areas which are under lease in order to be informed about the general situation.
Head of Priluzje branch of “Komi Voityr” Konstantin Serditov spoke about the role of non-governmental organizations in regulation of forest relations. He mentioned that the Community Council, the district Council of Elders and Priluzje branch of “Komi Voityr” regularly raise forest use issues. Konstantin presented concrete proposals of the non-governmental organizations, for example, some amendments to the legislative act of the Komi Republic «Regulation of forest relations on the territory of the Komi Republic».
The participants of the Forest Dialogue proposed to the non-governmental organizations and the forestry units to update the maps important for the local population. It was also suggested Luzales ltd. to send out the preliminary plan of cutting to agree it with the local population. All the participants agreed to initiate the development and adoption of a normative act concerning public hearings on the issue of forest area leasing on the regional level because due to the changes in the federal legislation it is not necessary now to conduct public hearings and they are practically not conducted. All these conclusions are included into the final document of the Forest Dialogue.
Sustainable forest management and forest use are possible only when the opinions of all forest stakeholders are taken into consideration. That is why it is very important to arrange a negotiation process between the stakeholders. The Forest Dialogue gives such opportunity. The representatives of Priluzje district have participated in the Forest Dialogues conducted by Silver Taiga Foundation for several times already and so they have decided to transfer this experience to their district. The director of Silver Taiga Foundation Yury Pautov was invited to manage the Dialogue in Priluzje.
It looks like the first Forest Dialogue in Priluzje district has become a platform not only for the problem discussions but also for findings of better solutions, mutual understanding and cooperation.
Translated by Anastasia Popova
The regular meeting of the Model River Mezen project Working Group took place on November, 22. It was devoted to 2013 working results and also to intermediate results of the first project stage and activity planning for the nearest future.
Silver Taiga ecologist Nikolai Shuktomov informed the participants of the meeting about the results of October expedition under annual monitoring of natural salmon reproduction conditions and efficiency in Mezen river basin and about an initiative of nonmigratory fish species monitoring by «AgroUdora» cooperative.
Environmental NGOs and «Lesozavod №1» ltd. have signed an agreement for high conservation value forests (HCVF) conservation on the forest area leased by the company.
On November 12, 2013 a conference was held in the Ministry of Industry, Transport and Communication of the Komi Republic. The participants of the conference discussed the possibility of cuttings in Verkhnaya Vashka pristine forests massif located on the border of Komi and Arkhangelsk regions.
The conference was initiated by the management team of «Lesozavod №1» ltd.. The company is carrying out an investment project in the Komi Republic and its leasing area is fully located inside the most valuable part of the given pristine forests massif.
The representatives of Silver Taiga Foundation informed the management body of «Lesozavod №1» ltd. about the problem that they could face during their products realization in the international market as soon as the company had applied for the project in 2008. This is because Verkhnaya Vashka pristine forests massif belongs to high conservation value forests (HCVF). Such forests should be conserved as the last untouched wild nature massifs, which are of high national and international value. Moreover, the FSC-certified companies have hard limitation for cutting in these forest massifs as well as purchasing of wood out of the given massifs from outside suppliers is concerned.
«Lesozavod №1» started its work only in September this year. So it doesn’t have enough harvesting power. That is why the company has concluded harvesting and production-sharing contracts with other companies, in particular with forest branch of Ilim Group in Koryazhma. The last one is FSC-certified and is not entitled to harvest in Verkhnaya Vashka massif and to purchase wood out it. Mondi Syktyvkar has also refused from purchasing of paperwood out of the given massif. The management body of «Lesozavod №1» ltd. has addressed a request to Komi government to help in its critical situation.
Besides the representatives of the Ministry of Industry, Transport and Communication of the Komi Republic, there were the representatives of Ilim Group, Mondi Syktyvkar, the Komi State Forestry Agency, administration of Ust-Vym district of Komi («Lesozavod №1» is situated in this district of Komi), and Russian environmental organizations – WWF Russia, Greenpeace Russia, Arkhangelsk ecological initiative, Silver Taiga Foundation.
During the active discussion of the problem the representatives of the Komi State Forestry Agency suggested new leasing area to «Lesozavod №1» located outside Verkhnaya Vashka massif and also on the left bank of Vychegda river in Ust-Vym forestry unit close to the company location.
Unfortunately, the representatives of «Lesozavod №1» were not satisfied with the proposed area to lease. The environmental organizations agreed to compromise – give a part of the massif centre for cutting upon condition that an additional area in the other part of this valuable massif will be conserved.
Finally different variants of Verkhnaya Vashka massif centre territorial changes and possible cutting area for «Lesozavod №1» for the short and long term were proposed for consideration.
After stormy discussions and approval procedures environmental NGOs and «Lesozavod №1» have found a mutually acceptable variant. The “greens” gave nod to cutting of several quarters in north-east part of Verkhnaya Vashka massif in exchange for the company guarantee not to cut and not to build road infrastructure in its central and western parts (see Scheme 2).
It must be noted, that Verkhnaya Vashka pristine forests massif is located on the border of Komi and Arkhangelsk regions. Moreover, representatives of Arkhangelsk party have already agreed a regional nature reserve creation within the border territory (see Scheme 1). The representatives of Silver Taiga Foundation and the Komi scientific community have also proposed a regional nature reserve creation in the centre of the massif inside the Komi Republic. It means that the central and most valuable for biodiversity and wild nature conservation part of Verkhnaya Vashka massif could be a large interregional Special Protected Natural Area in perspective.
These reasons turned to be convincing both for officials and for business. Finally, on November, 22 the management team of «Lesozavod №1» ltd., Silver Taiga Foundation and WWF Arkhangelsk signed an Agreement for high conservation value forests (HCVF) conservation on the part of Verkhnaya Vashka massif territory leased by the company. According to the Agreement the company should not cut and build any roads within the zone of strict conservation during the whole leasing period until 2059. The buffer zone has also been agreed. And the company can cut there only by agreement of biodiversity conservation measures with the environmental organizations on regional and federal levels. The rest leasing area can be under logging. This compromise decision will contribute to conserve HCVF of Verkhnaya Vashka pristine forests area as much as possible. Moreover, it will give an opportunity to «Lesozavod №1» to develop its activity.
Translated by Anastasia Popova
The annual exploration expedition was held in the end of October. Among the participants of the expedition were: the representatives of Silver Foundation; Federal State Institution “Komirybvod”; Udora regional committee for environmental conservation; department for state control, monitoring and aquatic bioresources protection; indigenous people community “Udorachi” and a volunteer.
This expedition was already the third one under the project. It was focused on monitoring of Atlantic salmon breeding area population as the Atlantic salmon is the most sensitive species. The expedition participants investigated the upper reaches of the river Mezen and its tributaries: Verkhnaya and Nizhnaya Puzla, Pyssa and Elva. The main objectives of the expedition were to count the number of salmon spawning nests and to evaluate conditions for salmon reproduction on these breeding tributaries. At the same time, the expedition participants monitored and analyzed poaching situation. According to ichthyologists, the overfishing is in particular the main reason of fish resources decrease in the recent decade.
There were much less salmon spawning nests this time on Pyssa and Elva compared to the last year. According to the local people observation, salmon comes to these rivers a little later and this year spawning period has prolonged because of the weather conditions. However, the situation didn’t differ much in the upper reaches of the river Mezen and in Verkhnaya and Nizhnaya Puzla compared to the last year. Nevertheless, it is too early to make some conclusions. Minimum five years of monitoring are needed to define at least a short-term dynamics.
Unfortunately, according to the expedition participants, the signs of poaching on spawning tributaries are getting more and more year by year. Moreover, there have never been fixed any illegal fences for fish on Verkhnaya Puzla before. But now there are such fences there – in the entry and upper.
According to Silver Taiga ecologist Nikolai Shuktomov, this expedition differed from the previous ones of 2011 and 2012 by participation in it of an independent supervision body specialist – the representative of Priluzje department for state control, monitoring and aquatic bioresources protection. There was also Silver Taiga volunteer among the expedition participants. It was his first significant field expedition.
According to the expedition arrangers, it is important to enlarge the variety of the participants and participating organizations as it helps the society to realize the emergency of salmon resources.
What is the annual monitoring necessary for? It is known, that almost no monitoring of salmon has been done on the river Mezen and its tributaries for a long time. The academics of the Polar Institute of Scientific Fishery and Oceanography (Murmansk) have researched the Atlantic salmon on the sea only. Meanwhile, to define the main reasons of salmon population degradation in Mezen river and to develop the salmon rehabilitation program together with the Arkhangelsk region, such investigations are extremely needed.
Translated by Anastasia Popova
The workshop on methods of aquatic bioresources control and its practical use was held on October, 31st in Glotovo village (Udora district of Komi). Members of the local branch of «AgroUdora» cooperative participated in the workshop.
As is known, the population of Glotovo village and near-by villages is combined into a cooperative and pursues a fishery according to quotas on the floods of Irva river – Irva lakes. The five lakes have a status of a fishing ground and they are under lease of the cooperative. But it doesn’t mean at all that they are managed sustainably.
Local activists from forest districts of the Komi Republic (Priluzje, Udora and Kortkeros) together with the representatives of Silver Taiga Foundation took part in the training seminar organized by the Russian National FSC office in Ustja district of the Arkhangelsk region.
The first day of the seminar was devoted to the introduction of sustainable forest management principals, FSC activities and its office in Russia, Russian national forest management standard according to FSC, each of the forest stakeholders’ rights and possibilities. Round-table discussion “Forest sector of the north-west of Russia and participation of the population in forest management” was also held during the first day. The issue was mainly presented by the example of Ustja district. Nevertheless, all participants of the seminar took an active part in the discussion. There were representatives of the local communities, non-governmental organizations, timber companies, scientific institutions from Arkhangelsk, Leningrad, Vologda, Kostroma, Karelia and Komi regions.
It should be specially mentioned that the representatives of the local self-government such as the head of Ustja district and his deputy for social issues, heads of almost every village municipality were interested in the discussion.
During the period of August through to September, another Polish delegation visited the Komi Model Forest. It was the second visit of specialists from Poland during this time. While the first delegation was represented by the state forest service (forestry specialists from two regions: Poznan and Olsztyn), the second team (who have finished their tour today) included academicians from the Poznan University of Natural Sciences.
Both groups came to Komi within the frameworks of the international project “Baltic Landscapes” developing innovative approaches to sustainable landscapes management via establishment of the Model Forests network. In their work the project partners – representatives of seven member-countries – are guided by the Model Forest concept focused on interaction of all stakeholders at municipal, regional, and local levels for provision of landscapes management with account of up-to-date requirements and interests of each party. Both for the Polish foresters and academicians of the Poznan university, one of the key participants of the “Baltic Landscapes” project, experience in partnership building for natural resources management accumulated in our republic during the years of the “Komi Model Forest” project implementation turned out to be extremely interesting.
Students from Politovo Udora region, took part in an environmental areastudy expedition “Long Live Salmon”. Together with Dina Chuprova, the initiator of this event, just for a few summer days the students could work not only in their village, but in other places – Muchkas, Patrakovo, Latyug and Bolshaya Pyssa.
The main goal of the group was to know how fisheries resources of the Mezen River had been used throughout its history. So, students had meetings and conversations with the old-timers and fishermen, the inhabitants of these villages. First of all, they paid attention to the most valuable species of fish, Atlantic salmon, the population of which unfortunately is reduced in the Mezen River now. When interviewing fishermen, the guys tried to learn about their traditions and unwritten rules formed by different generations and strictly followed by locals to ensure the sparing use of the river resources.
In conversations with old-timers the students were particularly interested in changes that had occurred over the past decade with the Mezen River and its tributaries, with the places of traditional fishing, with the attitude of people to nature. The guys also learnt a lot about the features of Atlantic salmon, which migrates from the sea into fresh water to spawn, got to know the origin of local place names, many of which are associated with fishing. Students took interesting photos capturing traditional fishing spots, antique fishing equipment and tackle, and their interlocutors.
All documents, including local fishermen’s stories, myths and legends about Mezen Salmon are being analyzed by now. According to the results of the summer job organized in the framework of Model River Mezen Project, Yana Pahneva, Maria Trofimova and Alex Mikhailov are preparing an information board and a PowerPoint presentation.
Translated by Ksenia Matyusheva