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"Newsletter" № 26 (39) June 2001

IUCIM-CIS Forest Conservation Programme in Progress

The potential of forests in environ­mental protection to meet the needs of society is practically inexhaustible. New ideas and technologies in resource-use and management offer great opportunities for the sustainable use of renew­able, and conservation of nonrenewable, resources.

According to latest estimates, the total area of the world's forests comprises 3,454.4 million hectares (Source: State of the World's Forests (1997) FAO, Rome , Italy ). Forests in CIS countries with IUCN members occupy more than 796.85 million hectares.

Russian forests are a unique asset to humankind with their share of 22,1 % of the world's forests. They are, however, rather vulnerable. A large percentage is located in the boreal zone on perennial and permafrost soils. The continuing fragmentation of forests during their economic development has led to an impoverishment of biological diversity of northern forests.

The forest cover of CIS countries is smaller than that of Russia forests, but nevertheless very significant for the regional environment particularly in mountain areas. For example, Kyrgyzstan has globally unique forests of walnut and other fruit-bearing trees which are a very valuable reserve of rich genetic diversity. In addition, the walnut-fruit forests are of great importance in the regulation ofthewatersupply to the Fergana valley, the main agricultural area in the region. Georgian mountain forests, composed mainly of beech, oak, hornbeam and chestnut are of great socio-economic importance for the region. The local population use these forests as a source of firewood, construction and handicraft materials, and cattle grazing. Some unique oak, beech, ash and fir stands remain in the Carpathian Mountains. They play a crucial role in soil protection. The forests of Ukraine and Moldova play an important role in controlling drought. Basic goals in mountain areas are forest conservation, an increase of forested lands and conservation of their biodiversity.

Goals, objectives, projects

The Forest Conservation Programme for the CIS (FCP-CIS) is an integral part of the IUCN Forest Conservation Programme (IUCN FCP) and the IUCN Temperate and Boreal Forest Programme (IUCN TBFP).

Country

Forest area in thousand hectares

Forest area as a percentage of the country's territory

Forest area in hectares per capita

Former USSR, including

816,167

37.2

2.8

Georgia

2,988

42.9

0.5

Kazakhstan

10,504

3.9

0.6

Kyrgyzstan

730

3.8

0.2

Moldova

357

10.8

0.1

Russian Federation

763,500

45.2

5.2

Turkmenistan

410

2.9

0.9

Ukraine

9,240

15.9

0.2

Uzbekistan

9,119

22.0

0.4

The goal of the FCP-CIS is the maintenance and, where necessary, restoration of forest ecosystems to promote conservation and sustainable management of forests, and equitable distribution of a wide range of forest goods and services. A network in close cooperation with IUCN FCP, IUCN TBFP, IUCN Commissions and members pursues this goal.

FCP-CIS objectives:

  • Promote nature conservation, especially biodiversity conservation, as an integral part and foundation of the future;
  • Promote the use of forest management methods and practices which secure rational, fair and sustainable use of forest resources;
  • Direct society towards an aspiration to a higher standard of living, that at the same time secures continuous harmony with other components of the biosphere;
  • Further public participation in decision-making in forest management;
  • Promote the incorporation of regional interests in forest management in Russia ;
  • Promote an integrated approach to the problems of forest resources management and conservation of nature.

FCP-CIS was created after the completion of an IUCN-CIS Office project "Development of the Russian part of the IUCN Global Program on Temperate and Boreal Forests (TBFP)" presented in a publication.

On 14 February 2001 in Moscow , IUCN - The World Conservation Union and CIDA - the Canadian International Development Agency launched a joint Russian-Canadian project "Building Partnerships for Forest Conservation and Management in Russia" (2000-2002). We hope the project will significantly increase the level of go­vernmental responsibility, will enhance openness and "transparency" in the de­cision-making process, and contribute to the increase of the efficiency of forest conservation and management in Russia . The project goal is to create due conditions for partnerships between governmental and non-governmental organizations and to draw different social groups into the process of decision-making.

The project consists of three components:

  • PI component "Public Involvement" (macro level);
  • PA project component "Assessing the Management Effectiveness of Protected Areas" (meso level);
  • NTFP component "Building Community Capacity for Sustainable Non-Timber Forest Products Harvesting, Monitoring and Marketing" (micro level).

The three levels are connected, and the results of each level will be used in the whole project.

One of the projects that has allowed us to make a big step forward in building consensus between forest authori­ties (governmental organizations) and the general public (non-governmental organizations) was "Creating a Frame­work for Public Involvement in Russian Forest Management" (1999-2000). A number of seminars, roundtables, sociological surveys and presentations brought together many people and opinions, and resulted in several publications.

Within this project a competition on the "Living Symbol of Russian Forests" brought the Russian brown bear to the fore. The objective was to increase public awareness of the conservation and sustainable use of Russian forests. The contest was promoted through the mass media (national and local newspapers, radio, TV, Internet). A joint IUCN International Seminar "Public Involvement in Forest Management in Russia" and TRN (Taiga Risque Network) Conference "Living With the Taiga - Boreal Forests in the 21st Century" was held in September 2000, and recommendations on public involvement were discussed and adopted.

IUCN-CIS was involved in the project "Facilitating the development of the Global Forest Watch Initiative in Rus­sia " (1999-2000). GFW has already been launched in Canada , Indonesia , Gabon and Cameroon . It was agreed that GFW-Russia would be coordinated via the IUCN-CIS Office. This gave the Office an opportunity to invite NGOs working on forest issues in Russia such as the Biodiversity Conservation Centre, Socio-Ecological Union, Greenpeace-Russia, Friends of Siberian Forests, Sakhalin Watch and other organizations as well as local people to participate in forest monitoring and to influence decision-makers. GFW activity in Russia will allow the Russian public to participate more actively in forest conservation.

One promising project in the pipeline is "Developing the Strategy for Mountain Forest Conservation in CIS" (2000-?). A network of experts and partners from more than 30 CIS NGOs and governmental agencies has been created, the first draft of the Strategy developed and submitted to experts and partners and a workshop initiated. But we have not obtained funds for this project yet. This is particularly sad, because next year is Mountain Year.

The IUCN-CIS Office is involved in the World Bank forest pilot project for the Russian Federation . Russia and the World Bank signed a five-year pilot project for the development of the Russian timber industry worth USD 60 million. Our office is in charge of the component dealing with public involvement in forest decision-making. That ties in well with all the above-mentioned projects.

Victor K. Teplyakov
IUCN-CIS Forest Programme Coordinator IUCN Office for CIS, Moscow , Russian Federation

 
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