Silver Taiga Foundation launches a new subproject “Adaptation to climate change as part of the implementation of the Natural capital Protocol. Assessment of changes in carbon stocks for different forest management scenarios” which was approved by The Steering Committee of the project “High Conservation Value Forests”. It will contains recommendations for forest users on adaptation to climate changes.
It was discussed during the Republic-wide Final Foresters Meeting 2019, which took place on November 28 at the Syktyvkar Forest Institute. Director of the Foundation Yuriy Pautov and Forestry Coordinator Nikolay Shuktomov told about biodiversity conservation measures in timber harvesting. Read more
Silver Taiga representatives together with the Tekhkarta Company conducted a field verification of the spruce-fur forest in Komi defined by the Transparent World Company (Moscow) to help the FSC-certificates’ holders to identify high conservation value forests (HCV 3) on their forest territory and to conserve them according to the FSC-certification national standard.
The main goal of the expedition was to visit the maximum possible amount of the spruce-fur forest lines in the central part of Komi, to identify the compliance of the spruce-fur forest lines presented on HCVF.RU with the FSC national standard requirements. Totally 22 spruce-fur forest lines were investigated during the five days in Syktyvdin, Kortkeross, Lokchim, Ust-Kulom and Pomozdino forestry units.
According to the preliminary results of the field verification there is no spruce-fur forest in the central part of the middle taiga subzone of Komi corresponding to the FSC national standard requirements.
There is the spruce-fur forest in the southern part of Komi within the boundaries of Letka, Priluzje, Koigorodok and a southern part of Ust-Nem forestry units on the border of Kirov and Perm regions, but its proportion is far below than it is presented on HCVF.RU.
The spruce-fur forest in the southern part of Komi is associated with the narrow spectrum of a wildlife habitual area. In general, it is located in the central part of the large rivers’ banks.
An interactive teaching method was proposed by the Silver Taiga specialists during the training courses on the ecological requirements of the FSC voluntary forest certification for the logging operators. This time the logging operators acted as the speakers and the Silver Taiga representatives helped only to find the mistakes in a gentle way.
The given courses are being conducted upon Mondi Syktyvkar initiative not only for the Mondi representatives but also for the contracting organizations. More than 70 people were trained during July 2019.
Prior to the courses the logging operators got the workbooks prepared by the Silver Taiga team, the description of the logging plots, technical maps, satellite images, etc. The logging operators divided into three groups and performed an independent work during a certain period of time. After that, each group presented the results of its work for the others. According to the Silver Taiga representatives, a new teaching method has turned to be rather powerful.
Following the results of the training courses, the Silver taiga specialists are going to present the weak and the strong points of the forest use and discuss them with Mondi Syktyvkar to support the high level of the forest use.
The Steering Committee of the High Conservation Value Forest project implemented by the Silver Taiga Foundation since 2008 held its annual meeting on 01 February 2019. The Committee consists of the representatives of Ministry of Nature of Komi, Ministry of Industry of Komi, such Russian environmental NGOs as Greenpeace, WWF and FSC. The target of the Steering Committee annual meeting is to assess the last-year project progress and agree on the plans for the upcoming year. During the long and interesting discussion the Steering Committee approved Silver Taiga annual reports for 2018, plan and budget for 2019.
The Committee put a high value not only on the amount of work done by the Foundation during 2018 but also on the investigations’ quality. According to the members of the Committee Silver Taiga should disseminate the gained experience not only in Komi but also in other regions using federal mass media.
The Steering Committee propose the Foundation to present HCVF Project results during the National Forest Forum planned for July 2019 in Syktyvkar. Moreover, it would be a good idea to involve forestry students to the voluntary activity of the Foundation as far as possible as there is a shortage of a qualified forestry staff in Komi.
Quite a number of questions were focused on the creation of Koigorodok Natrional Park, Osa and Karpogory Reserves and restrictions on Udora Reserve visiting.
Respublika newspaper has published the interview with Silver Taiga Director Yury Pautov about long-term cooperation between the Foundation and Mondi Syktyvkar. The main issues of cooperation with the forestry companies are presented in the interview.
– The cooperation with the environmental NGOs are necessary for the industrial companies as they care about the future. When the companies have unsolved problems or are about to have such and they cannot solve them themselves they call experts and it brings good results for all parties involved into the process: local population, local authorities, NGOs, – says Yury Pautov in the interview. Read the interview (in Russian)…
Back in 2004-2008 the Silver Taiga Foundation for Sustainable Development mapped large intact forest landscapes (IFLs, areas of intact forest of over 50,000 ha) in the Komi Republic, later cores of those IFLs, the most valuable from the environmental point of view and unaffected by any industry areas, were agreed with various stakeholders. Since then, the Foundation has been systematically dealing with inspection of such remote intact tracts to award the status of PAs (specially protected natural areas) to them. In 2009-2013, Koygorodok IFL in the south of the region was inspected, and now a new national park – Koygorodok National Park – is planned to be established there. In 2016, the Silver Taiga Foundation arranged an international scientific expedition to Verkhnyaya Vashka IFL to find justification for the new landscape reserve. In 2017, the environmental and economic feasibility study for the Osa complex landscape reserve was prepared and forwarded to the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Komi Republic. In summer 2018 an expedition to the Core of the Karpogory IFL located near the border of Udora district of Komi and Pinega district of Arkhangelsk region was planned.
The following experts took part in the expedition which started on 18 June 2018 in Chuprovo, Udora district: Andrey Korolev and Natalya Semenova, scientists of Institute of Biology of the Komi Scientific Center, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Science, Syktyvkar, phytosociologist Asya Zagidullina from Saint Petersburg, Finnish experts Junikka Jaako Juhani and Olli Antti Manninen, and Nikolay Shuktomov and Sergey Davydov from the Silver Taiga Foundation for Sustainable Development. They inspected the Karpogory IFL to identify habitats of Red Book species of plants and animals, rare ecosystems and landscapes. Later, the information on biodiversity collected during the trip will be included in the documents to justify establishment of the wildlife sanctuary on that area.
It is important to note that the place is remote and difficult for access. The only reliable type of transportation is a motorboat. The base camp of the participants was 70 kilometers away from the village of Chuprovo. To get to the camp the members of the expedition had to travel by boat up the Kurmysh river. The guide was one of the local residents of Chuprovo – Nikolay Tyurnin.
The central part of the Karpogory tract was conducted by groups of 2-3 people. The walking distance of the routes was from 15 to 25 kilometers. On the way, one could see family marks, which means that the area had been used by local people for traditional activities for a long time.
The long spring this year postponed the start of vegetation and blossoming of many of vascular plants, however, the scientists managed to find a very rare orchid – Calypso bulbosa which is included in the Red Book of Russia. According to the leader of the expedition – forestry coordinator Nikolay Shuktomov from Silver Taiga – the experts were extremely lucky to find it. The participants of the trip also found some unique lichens and fungi in the Karpogory tract. Zoologist Andrey Korolev and ornithologist from Finland Junikka Jaako Juhani identified some rare bird species. The expedition managed to make a photo of a big predator bird very similar to a honey buzzard included in the Red Books of many areas, including the one of Arkhangelsk region.
The Karpogory IFL is one of the biggest well preserved tracts of intact forest. Its area exceeds 393,500 ha, the area of the core is more than 276,500 ha. The last expedition was the third one. In 2007 a trip to the southern part of the tract along the Puchkoma river was arranged. The team included members of the Silver Taiga Foundation, a representative of the SPOK environment protection organization from Karelia, and the head of the Udorachi public movement. The experts were to estimate the degree of preservation of forests and availability of Red Book species of plants and animals. In 2011, an expedition to audit the Ezhuga wildlife sanctuary (the northern part of the Karpogory IFL) was arranged as part of the UNDP/GEF project. The group included scientists of Institute of Biology of the Komi Scientific Center, Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Science, staff of the Silver Taiga Foundation, experts from Arkhangelsk and St. Petersburg. The expedition report was included in the UNDP/GEF summary report on assessment of representativeness of specially protected natural areas (PA) of the Komi Republic. Based on the results of the studies an idea emerged to create the Karpogory wildlife sanctuary merging together Puchkoma and Ezhuga reserves. The 2018 expedition concluded the series of studies in this IFL. The following stage will be development of an environmental justification for the Karpogory wildlife sanctuary, which will merge the existing Puchkoma reserve in the Komi Republic and Ezhuga reserve in Arkhangelsk region into an integrated specially protected natural area of regional significance, thus preserving unique intact forest tracts of middle taiga for upcoming generations.
Public hearings on establishment of the Koygorodsky National Park were held in the Koygorodok district administration on 27 July 2018 and in the Priluzye district administration on July 29. The results of the environmental and economic analysis and design concepts for the Koygorodsky National Park were presented in both districts by Yury Pautov, director of the Silver Taiga Foundation for Sustainable Development, because it was Silver Taiga that won the tender for the technical and economic feasibility study of the new specially protected natural area (PA).
The data of the comprehensive environmental study of the area serving to justify awarding a legal status of a specially protected natural area of federal significance entitled the Koygorodsky National Park (Komi Republic) to it were available for the general public for a month before the public hearings both in hard copies and in the digital form. One could read the documents in Koygorodok and Priluzye district administrations or at the Silver Taiga Foundation’s website (in Russian).
According to Yury Pautov, the area of the PA to be designed will be 56,600 ha, most part of the reserved area (76% of the total area) is located in Koygorodok forestry (in Kobrа district forestry unit), and the rest (24%) is in Priluzye and Letka forestry units (Noshul and Letka district forestry units).
As the presenter highlighted, large natural ecosystems and natural habitats that have not been affected by human activity with the area of over 50,000 ha are subject to preservation first of all, according to the federal law On Environmental Protection. The Koygorodok tract is referred to intact forest landscapes (IFL), few of which have remained in the Komi Republic. The most well-known ones are the Yugyd Va National Park and Pechora-Ilych Natural Reserve with the total area of 3m ha, these sites are part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, so they are protected by federal and international laws.
There are other IFLs as well – Timan, Pyssa, Karpogory and Verkhnyaya Vashka IFLs – mostly in the periphery of the region. The Koygorodok IFL is the smallest and the most valuable out of the listed ones. It is also the most southern one in the European part of Russia. By establishment of a new federal PA Russia will preserve the last remaining virgin forest tract in Europe located in the southern subzone of European taiga, protect rare flora and fauna species and the unique forest ecosystem, support traditional use of natural resources by indigenous Komi and local population, contribute to diversification of social and economic development of Koygorodok and Priluzye districts and the Komi Republic in general, and get a chance to continue promoting extreme tourism.
The would-be national park is in the very south of Komi, it borders the PA created in Kirov region in 2010 – natural reserve cluster Nurgush – Tulashor. The Koygorodok National Park and Tulashor are the same forest tract spread over the two regions.
The work on establishment of the national park started thirteen year ago. The Silver Taiga Foundation that used to deal with inventory count of all intact forests of the Komi Republic initiated the new PA in 2005. The Foundation suggested conserving the Koygorodok forest tract for PA, however the area was leased by forest users. In 2006, as part of the voluntary forest certification of Koygorodok forestry, an agreement was reached with Mondi Syktyvkar, the leaseholder of the vastest part of the area. The company waived its right of lease for the sake of the new PA. The agreement was coordinated with the management of the Forest Committee, the Silver Taiga Foundation and Mondi Syktyvkar. In 2007, Mayskles also passed moratorium on the use of its leased area as part of its certification on a voluntary basis. After that, the proposal for the new PA was forwarded to the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia, which in its turn sent a request to the Komi Republic Ministry of Natural Resources. In 2009 the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Komi Republic held a large meeting, and then the Komi Government agreed to conserve the area for the PA of federal significance. Later, various environmental studies were conducted, and in 2011 the area was included in the PA Plan of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources. According to the plan, the park had to be formed in 2016, however, it didn’t work at that time unfortunately. Nevertheless, in 2017, respective tasks were received from the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources, and the design work started. Now, the Silver Taiga Foundation, which won the tender for design activities, is dealing with elaboration of the technical and economic feasibility study (TEFS). In 2019, the TEFS audit is to be held by independent experts, and unless the experts find any deviations, the Russian Government will pass an order on the new PA in 2020.
The value of the tract is absence of any human intervention. The majority of its area is intact forest where no cutting operations have even been conducted, nor roads, electric power lines, gas or oil pipelines have been build, nor any industrial development has occurred. The intact forest landscape has been developing according to the natural dynamics laws for thousands years till now. The area of human impact does not exceed 4%. The biggest part of the landscape is represented by mixed deciduous and spruce forest which is typical for southern taiga. It has preserved some native fir and spruce forest, which cannot be found almost anywhere in Europe.
“For local residents the forest is old, rough and ‘littered’ with dead branches, it has a lot of coniferous undergrowth and underbrush composed of linden, mountain ash and juniper, impenetrable windfalls, swamps and river valleys. For most people it is a real torture to walk in such forest. But that is what primeval taiga, which was used for agriculture by our ancestors in middle ages, looks like. From the environmental point of view, it is a unique ecosystem, as all plants and animals have preserved and cohabited there for thousands years. Environmental experts from abroad look amazed when they observe this ‘disorderly wonder’ of the Koygorodok tract, they are ready to spend weeks there to see natural habitats and species that have already disappeared at their native places,” Yury Pautov noted in his report.
He explained that it is there where you can find rare species included in the Red Book of the Komi Republic, Red Book of Kirov Region and Red Book of Russia. You can see rare moss and lichen species, like Usnea Longissima. The lichen looks like long threads, which actually were used for Christmas tree decoration in Sweden in the 17th century. That is how the tradition of decorating Christmas trees emerged. Previously, the lichen could only be found almost everywhere in the taiga zone from Sweden to Komi, and now it has remained in such remote places only.
A group of Finnish experts found an extremely rare insect species in the Koygorodok tract in August 2009 – Hylochares Cruentatus. It is a large beetle that looks like a bark beetle with short horns and rounded superior wings on both sides. Earlier, ten habitats of the beetle were known, so the Koygorodok tract became the eleventh one.
The reporter spoke in detail about the history of fires and windfalls at this area in the 19-20th centuries. However, the huge fire did not affect the whole area. Most Red Book species are concentrated in the spruce forest which was not affected by the fire that took place 160 years ago, a significant portion of them – in aspen forests and flood basins of rivers and brooks that served as escapes from fires for forest inhabitants. The area of the Koygorodok tract is still poorly studied, potentially it may have up to 150 Red Book plant species and over 30 Red Book animal species. That makes 180 species in total, which is almost 90% of all Red Book, rare and endangered species of the southern part of the Komi Republic. In other words, the area is of utmost importance in terms of its richness in rare and endangered species and its value for future generations. The structure of the national park landscapes ensures preservation of the model of intact South European taiga and all levels of biodiversity – from the genetic to the landscape one.
Project designers suggest dividing the preserved area in the following zones: reserved area (12.6% of the total area), specially protected area (14%), recreation area (72.1%) and also an area for some economic activity (2.5%). The reserve area will border on the Tulashor nature reserve of Kirov region. It is the most valuable part of the tract. The rest of the area is for recreation, where one can relax, conduct scientific tours, go hunting or fishing with a license, go hiking. The recreational area stands close to minor areas for economic activities – that where the park will build houses for visitors and rangers protecting the reserved area.
“One can develop environmental tourist at the would-be area. The Foundation has some experience, we showed the place to tourists from Latvia, Sweden, Finland and Russia, we even created an educational route for this purpose. In addition, it is possible to arrange extreme sport tours with obstacles. Now, there are a lot of Europeans willing to take a walk along intact taiga. I know one person who tried to cross the Koygorodok tract, but failed. It is wild, rough and full of debris. However, there is demand for such type of tourism, and it is quite interesting for tour operators,” Yury Pautov believes.
Participants of the public hearings in Koygorodok district asked the presenter if tourists may become a threat for Red Book species. According to Yury Pautov, none of local hunters will ever move that far to hunt. They can get a wood grouse or a hazel grouse in nearby forests. Extreme tours are planned to be offered to western hunters who demand large catch – big moose or big bears. Neither a moose, nor a bear is included in the Red Book.
To illustrate the case, Yury Pautov gave an example from his experience, “I have just come back from Latvia where I participated in a forestry workshop. Tourism there is organized not for locals, but mostly for hunters from the Check Republic, Germany and Sweden. The income generated by the hunting amounts to 12% of the Latvian forestry budget. A hunter should pay for the following: a) hunting right (license); b) guidance; c) service (accommodation, food, transport, sauna, and other entertainments); d) game. The cost of the captured game may vary from 5,000 to 50,000 dollars depending on its size. All this money goes to the state forestry budget. Here, we can charge from 50,000 to 70,000 rubles for a big bear, and a similar amount for a guide. It is obvious, that for such services we need to equip guest houses, arrange transport, and train forest rangers.”
Public activists proposed to restrict business activity of the area in Priluzye district in order not to let visitors enter its core. As Yury Pautov informed, the plan was to arrange a cordon near the protected area to limit the inflow of tourists who would visit the protected area, so there was no need to restrict business activity.
The Foundation suggests putting the administration of the national park in Koygorodok district and merging it with the administration of the Tulashor Reserve referring to Kirov region. The costs related to the PA establishment will amount to 3-5m rubles, according to design engineers’ estimates.
The Silver Taiga Foundation for Sustainable Development has drafted the Analytical Note to assess compliance of environmental limitations of the new FSC Standard with the IFM (intensive forest management) regulations in the Dvina-Vychegda taiga forest area.
“It has been a tradition since Soviet time to develop taiga extensively, which meant accelerated exploitation of logging companies’ forest stock and moving to new intact areas. To a large extent, no reforestation or forest tending activities were conducted, and logged tracts overgrew naturally. As a result, intact coniferous taiga areas were reducing, and they shifted further from wood processing centers. At the same time, low value secondary tree stands, which were of no interest for harvesters due to the fact that they were represented by deciduous or deciduous-coniferous forest stands with low market value appeared at harvested areas,” Yury Pautov, the Foundation’s director, comments the situation in the forestry sector of Russia.
According to Yury Pautov, at the beginning of 2000s, many companies of the taiga zone, especially in the European part of Russia, faced the threat of depletion of forest resources already in the coming decades rather than in the long-term perspective.
As many experts see it, the way out of the situation is transition from extensive to intensive forest management. Environmentalists, who back the idea of preservation of last remaining intact forests being the most valuable and unique from the point of forest landscape biodiversity, also support the proposal.
Intensive forest management model implies targeted cultivation of required species of the needed quality at developed forest areas near wood processing centers that benefit from comprehensive road network and availability of human resources. One of the key components of the scheme is to minimize wood transportation costs. Higher yield under intensive forest management practices is generated due to regular tending of growing stock, removal of unneeded species to ensure optimal density and maximum growth of target species, and “commercial” thinning in middle-aged forest stand. Owing to such practices one can achieve two-fold increase of high-value timber harvesting volume, if compared to traditional extensive forest management.
The talk about the need to intensify the forestry sector has been ongoing for the recent 10-15 years, and it was only in 2016-2017 that new regulations for the intensive model were prepared, however not for the whole Russia, but for some forest type zones only, including the Dvina-Vychegda taiga forest area, where Ilim Group and Mondi claiming the necessity to introduce IFM maintain their leased areas.
In line with the above, a new national FSC Forest Management Standard was started to be planned in 2016, and it is expected to be adopted in 2018, so all certified companies will have to meet the new requirements of the standard.
Meanwhile, the IFM regulations and the new FSC Standard were developed by different groups of experts, which could lead to contradictions between FSC requirements and the ones of the intensive forest management regulations.
“Just a few years ago we undertook some attempts to compare the requirements under the certification and IFM, but there were a lot of concerns that the alignment process will fail during their development and approval. That is why it was only in the recent period that the foundation initiated a comparative analysis of the new forest planning and FSC certification documents in order to identify any possible mutual incompliances, contradictions or mismatches,” Yury Pautov says.
In the mid-2017 there were several versions both of the new FSC Standard and new IFM regulations, but final documents were not ready yet, therefore completion of the analysis had to be postponed all the time. The most recent IFM regulation entitled Forest Tending Rules was approved and published on December 22, 2017, then it became possible to finish the work. For the analysis the stated regulatory documents, as well as numerous reviews and comments of forestry and FSC certification experts were taken into account. A special focus was paid to discussion of the issues in the Internet, at various workshops and working groups’ meetings.
As a result of the work conducted Silver Taiga’s experts have drawn a conclusion that there are no serious contradictions between the requirements of the new FSC Standard and new regulations for intensive forest management. However, the Foundation suggests discussing and commenting the provided Analytical Report to all stakeholders. As Yury Pautov highlighted, it mostly considers regulations for the Dvina-Vychegda taiga forest area, but they may also be useful for other forest type zones of Russia where intensive forest management is planned to be introduced.a
The Silver Taiga has developed the method to monitor biodiversity preservation measures for multi-skilled environmental experts.
The methods for monitoring of conservation of Key Forest Biotopes and Key Elements are predetermined by the need in quality and quantity assessment of the forest landscape biodiversity preservation approach which is new for Russia, and the necessity to analyze the experience of harvesting with conservation of biodiversity that has been accumulated over the recent years by FSC certified companies in the Komi Republic.
As early as in 2009 the Silver Taiga Foundation prepared Recommendations to Preserve Biodiversity during Harvesting in the Komi Republic that were approved by the regional Forest Committee. In 2010, a brochure with the same title was published. Recommendations were mostly applied by certified companies meeting the national FSC Forest Management Standard requirements. The companies have gained a great experience in biodiversity preservation, including the one related to mapping and conservation of Key Forest Biotopes and Key Elements, imitation of natural forest dynamics during harvesting operations and consideration of landscape features in the planning and harvesting processes, over 8 years.
The Silver Taiga Foundation’s experts were active to provide information support to logging companies through trainings for their employees, field trips on the Recommendations application, and arranging forest management planning workshops. A special attention was given to explaining the requirements to biodiversity preservation, natural forest dynamics imitation and landscape approach to planning and harvesting by certified forestry companies of the region.
However, the key objective of the Recommendations is not to make companies leave Key Biotopes and Key Elements at logging sites, but to maintain environmental functions of the forest after cutting to preserve the biodiversity of forest ecosystems and forest landscapes in general.
That is why the Foundation initiated the development of the method to monitor the assessment of Key Forest Biotopes and Key Elements conservation and their performance of the biodiversity preservation functions on the local, ecosystems and landscape levels.
The Key Biotopes and Key Elements preserved at logging plots were monitored in 2014-2017 by various methods. The experts of the Silver Taiga Foundation and Tekhkarta LLC tested different approaches, as a result a simple and reproducible Method for Monitoring of Conservation of Key Forest Biotopes and Key Elements that can be used both by certified companies and by certification authorities and consultants preparing companies for the certification has been developed. In other words, the method is designed for multi-skilled environmental experts familiar with the FSC certification requirements and biodiversity preservation methods in forest use.
During the field test of the method in 2017 it was adjusted by the Silver Taiga’s experts and offered to the general public for discussion and use by all stakeholders.