Criteria and Indicators
Conservation and Sustainable Management
of Temperate and Boreal Forests
The Montreal process started in 1994. It is one of the few regional and international undertakings where the participating countries are striving to use criteria and indicators to achieve the sustainable forest management. According to the definition given at the European Ministerial conference held in Helsinki in 1993, the sustainable forest means “the stewardship and use of forests and forest lands in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfil, now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions, at local, national, and global levels, and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems”.
The Montreal process is an activity performed by the intergovernmental working group of experts developing scientifically grounded criteria and indicators of forest protection and sustainable forest use within temperate and boreal forest zones. Twelve countries take part in the Montreal process: Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Mexico, New Zealand, republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, USA, Uruguay, Chile, and Japan. About 50% of the world forests and 90% of the forests of temperate and boreal forest zones are located in the territory of the participating countries. Criteria and indicators serve as instruments to assess changes and tendencies in forest state and management. Presently, there are 7 criterions and 67 corresponding indicators developed and widely accepted. The first five criterions assess environmental functions and characteristics of the forests. The sixth criterion reflects socio-economic benefits provided by forests. The seventh criterion describes political terms and conditions required to maintain the sustainable forest management. For more details on Montreal process please visit web site at: http://www.mpci.org/.
The National report of the Russian Federation on the criteria and indicators of the sustainable forest management is developed based on the Russian obligations to follow Principles of sustainable forest management, adopted by the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio-de-Janeiro, 1992) and confirmed by the Declaration on the Sustainable Development (Santiago, 1995). This report is designed to provide objective information about the state and the use of Russian forests. This report will be presented at the XII World Forestry Congress, held in Quebec (Canada) in September 2003. A discussion dedicated to the Montreal process will be held within the framework of the World Forestry Congress, and the following activities are scheduled:
· The general review of the year 2003 achievements will be presented;
· National reports on forests will be provided;
· Political obligations for the participating countries (Santiago declaration and Montreal working group) will be confirmed;
· Perspective goals for the Montreal process will be defined for the coming 5 years.
Formulating the “National Report of the Russian Federation on Criteria’s and Indicators”, the following sources were used:
· Data from the State Forest Account (from the years 1998, 1993, 1988, 1983, 1978);
· Report “Environment of the Russian Federation in the Year 2000”;
· Goskomstat publication “Environmental Protection in the Russian Federation in the year 2001”;
· Report “State and Utilization of the Forest Resources of the Russian Federation in the Year 2001”;
· The information updated from the forest management and planning;
· Analytical data of the Forest Cadastre and forest monitoring;
· The data provided by the state bodies of nature protection;
· Scientific reports (research institutions and MNR Russia).
Data collection and analysis, maps and illustrations were provided by the VNIILM stuff (All-Russian Research Institute of Silviculture and Forestry Mechanization) and also by other forestry experts working in different units and divisions of the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Russia is one of the major forest powers in the world. The Forest Fund, which consists of both forested and non-forested land, takes up about 12 mill.km2. Forests cover about 8 mill.km2 and over 25% of the global forest standing volume is concentrated in Russia. Russian forests are crucially important for the planet because they regulate environmental conditions and prevent negative climate changes.
Boreal forests and takes up about 60% of all boreal forests in the world and 95% of closed forest area in Russia. A major part of the forests is characterized by low growth potential and high vulnerability due to the forest ecosystems being extremely sensitive to any intervention. Indigenous peoples, preserving centuries-old traditions, mainly inhabit these lands. They have managed to maintain their way of living based on the use of forest resources and thus practice hunting, fishing, reindeer breeding, gathering of berries and mushrooms, etc. Having an extensive forest management experience, Russia is recognized to be a world leader in silviculture, forest protection, science and research.
The history of forest management in Russia stretches for more than 200 years.
According to the edict of Emperor Pavel I the Forest Department was set up in 1798. The established structure of forest management has proved to be a success as the main principles have been observed up to the present.
According to the current legislation, the state forest administration includes forest use, monitoring and control activities, as well as protection and reforestation throughout the country. Management and administration functions are carried out by the President of the Russian Federation, the Government of the Russian Federation, executive bodies of the subjects of the Russian Federation, and specially authorized state forest administration bodies.
Specially authorized state forest administration bodies are represented by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR Russia) and the State Forest Service (SFS) (Fig. 1. The Structure of Forest Management in the Russian Federation). The following departments constitute the SFS:
· Department of Forest Use;
· Department of the Forest Fund;
· Department of Control, Protection, and Reforestation of the Forest Fund;
· Regional Forest Management Bodies in the subjects of the Russian Federation as well as Forest Management Units (leskhozes).
Also, the MNR Russia consists of:
· State Forest Planning and Inventory Enterprises (that were reorganized in the year 2002 and are currently titled “Forest Inventory and Planning Institutes”);
· Airborne Forest Protection Service (“Avialesookhrana”);
· Science and Research (“Department of The following MNR Divisions coordinate activities ensuring sustainable nature resource management:
· Department of Research and Interaction with the Scientific Community;
· Department of Specially Protected Nature Territories and Sites as well as Conservation of Biodiversity;
· Human Resources Department, Continuing Education and Social Policy. Research and Interaction with the Scientific Community”);
· Educational Institutions.
The following MNR Divisions coordinate activities ensuring sustainable nature resource management:
· Department of Research and Interaction with the Scientific Community;
· Department of Specially Protected Nature Territories and Sites as well as Conservation of Biodiversity;
· Human Resources Department, Continuing Education and Social Policy.
MNR Russia is lead by the Minister, who is nominated by the President of the Russian Federation, and the First Deputy Minister supervises forestry issues.
The Statute ratified by MNR Russia, regulates the activity of the state forest management body (Order N 235 dated April 27, 2002). The sustainable forest management is implemented by the state forest policy.
According to the Forest Code of the Russian Federation (1997), Forest Fund lands, including all forests, located on the defense lands, are under Federal jurisdiction. The federal law allows property rights transfer in favor of the subjects of the Russian Federation. Both the civil legislation and the Forest Code guarantee the free access to the forests. There are Forest Fund allotments, which are available for lease by citizens and juridical persons. In addition to this, there is short-term use; concessional use and use of forestlands free of charge, which are all widely practiced.
The Forest Fund and other lands constitute almost 69% of the total land area of the Russian Federation. MNR Russia controls and governs 95.83% of the Forest Fund area is governed and controlled by MNR Russia while other ministries and agencies manage the rest of the forests (Fig. 2. Administration of the Forest Fund and other lands).
The total land area of Russia, including water bodies, amounts to 1.7 bill. ha. In spite of the fact that the extreme North and European South territories are forestless, forests are the most representative type of vegetation and the major renewable natural resource in the country.
In Russia, the notion “forest resources” is associated with the “Forest Fund” concept. The term itself was formed resulting from the history of the state forest management. The Forest Fund comprises lands that are covered with forest vegetation (forested lands) or may be potentially covered (unforested lands, non-forest lands). Forest Fund lands are managed for forestry purposes.
The total area of the Forest Fund lands is a rather permanent index and changes insignificantly due to the land transfer for industrial construction, farming and/or agricultural use.
As of January 1, 2002 the total area of the Forest Fund lands is 1113.84 mill. ha, making up to 69% of the total land area of Russia. As for the closed forests, 78% are located in the Asian territory and 22% are distributed throughout the European territory of Russia. Percentage of forestlands has a rather uneven distribution and is a changing index. Since 1966 it has increased from 41% and reached the index 45.3% today. During the period 1966–2001 the annual average increase of land area covered with forest vegetation was 2 mill. ha. The reasons for this increase differ, so for the Asian territories of Russia the increase was connected to verifications of forestland characteristics and for the European-Ural part of Russia the increase was a result of natural regeneration and the planting of unforested areas. The Forest Fund is an area under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation. Depending on its natural peculiarities and given different functional importance, the Forest Fund lands are subdivided into a number of categories (Fig. 3. Classification of the Forest Fund Lands, mill. ha (as of January 1, 2001).
The distribution of categories has a mosaic structure, which consists of forest and nonforest vegetation, water bodies, roads, different land use patterns, and settlements that are historically based on natural processes and human activities. The level of biological diversity and stability of the Forest Fund area is determined by the continuous change of the mosaic as it influences habitats, ecological niches, migration conditions, and dispersions of plants and animals. Every category is managed following specific forest management rules, inventory regulations and individual measures. The existing legislation as well as the set of standards and methodological documents is based on the subdivided categories approach.
The sustainable forest management of Russia tends to solve a set of environmental and economic issues based on the aspects of local, regional, national, and global importance. The financial structure ensures that:
· means and resources for reforestation, maintenance, forest guard and protection are guaranteed;
· there is necessary interest to earn and invest the capital needed for all aspects related to the forest sector;
· methods for fixing payments for forest resource that must be based on both state management and market economy.
The financial system is relying upon the mechanism of getting forest revenues that are based on a system of payments for the Forest Fund use. Under the market economy, such a system has become an effective instrument of managing the economic and legal aspects of forest use. The system of payments is of great importance for the promotion of sustainable use and reforestation of the land.
The establishment of reasonable and wellgrounded rates of payment for the use of forest resources is a fundamental measure to ensure revenue and replenishment of the budget. According to the Forest Code of the Russian Federation, forests are under Federal jurisdiction. Major expenses of the state forest management, such as forest guard, forest protection, reforestation and sustainable use, have to be covered by the federal budget and therefore, the State has the right to receive revenues from the Forest Fund utilization.
According to the Article 108 of the Forest Code of the Russian Federation, the following activities and expenses are financed by the federal budget:
· federal body of forest administration expenses,
· the expenses of regional bodies of forest management,
· the expenses of national parks, forest fire protection,
· the protection of forests against pests and diseases,
· drainage, the construction, maintenance and repair of irrigation networks, seed breeding expenses,
· forest monitoring expenses,
· the upkeep of the State Forest Cadastre, etc.
Forest regeneration costs are to be covered by the budgets of the regions of the Russian Federation. The need for forest regeneration results from forest use and, therefore, the financial source for the regeneration of the forest should include revenue from timber sales and other forest utilization payments. The structure of financial management consists of:
· the federal budget capital to cover management activities, forest fire protection activities and forest protection from pests and diseases;
· the means of the budget of the regions of the Russian Federation that are allocated for the forest regeneration;
· the forest management unit’s own means, which include: price of timber, rental charges, forest taxes, various earnings from the forest products’ sales, and gains from shelterbelt afforestation.
In the year 2001, the federal budget consisted of 2614.7 mill., which is by far not enough to cover forestry expenses (Fig. 4. Forest Management Expences, mill. roubles). The lack of federal budget support is compensated by additional capital earned by forest management units. In the year 2001, the structure of the financial expenditures of the Forest Fund broke down as follows: the federal budget consisted of 32.4%, the budget of the regions of the Russian Federation covered 9.4%, and personal capital of the forest management units amounted to 58.2%. Personal capital in 2001 totaled 4691.9 mill. roubles, including: 3171.7 mill. roubles from forest products sales; 136.1 mill. roubles from transport services; 103.2 mill. roubles from shelterbelt afforestation; 28,2 mill. roubles from seed and planting stock sales; and 1252.7 mill. roubles from other revenue returns.
The Federal Law “On the Federal Budget for the Year 2002” foresees significant changes in the financial structure of forestry. Based on the minimum cost of timber, all the payments related to the Forest Fund use will be transferred to the budgets of the regions of the Russian Federation as revenues. The federal budget will receive deductions made up from rental charges and other forest payments that are over the minimum timber price. Earlier, those payments were transferred to the forest management bodies.
To assess Russian forests, it is important to consider their condition and location. Nowadays, only 29.8% of the Forest Fund area, which is almost half of the forested area, with the final growing stock of 40.0 milliard m3, is suitable for exploitation. The amount of mature and overmature stands amounts to 41.8% of the total area and represents 58% of total growing stock. The majority of these forests is located in the Asian part of Russian and mainly belongs to the second and third group. The predominant tree species is the larch, which occupies over 45.2% of the area (40.6% of the growing stock). Almost 80% of forests located in the Asian part of Russia grow on permafrost soils. The average site quality class for coniferous tree species is not higher than IV and the average growing stock is 36.5 m3 /ha in Magadan, 71.5 m3 /ha in Chukotka, and 92.8 m3 /ha in Yakutija. Under the current level of socio-economic development in Siberia, only 1/3 of the forested area is of market value. The remaining 2/3 of the area is not yet perceived for market value, but must be preserved to carry out biosphere and other ecological functions. Forest distribution over the land area stipulates specific research methods. The most precise and reliable forest assessment methods are practiced in the regions that have wide forest exploitation. A set of various assessment methods providing approximate data and preliminary results are then applied to the rest of the territory.
At present, the structure of forest resource assessment includes:
· State Forest Fund Account;
· State forestry Cadastre;
· Forest monitoring;
· Forest Management and Planning;
· Forest pathology and other inspections;
· Inventory of current changes in the Forest Fund (Fig. 5. Forest account structure)
The primary responsibilities of the State Forest Fund Account (SFFA) is to ensure that there is:
· Sustainable forest management;
· Forest guard and protection;
· Forest reproduction;
· Systematic quality and quantity control.
Also, SFFA is required to provide federal and regional authorities, juridical persons, and other concerned parties with reasonable data and reliable information. SFFA data is used for keeping the State forest cadastre. SFFA management is based on the forest inventory and planning data which is updated by the SFFA. SFFA takes stock of clearings, felling sites, areas of new forest plantations, areas that have burned down, forest areas affected by pests and diseases, and in addition, it keeps track of the changes in forested areas and traces the growing stock. Up to the year 1999, the SFFA was carried out every five years. It was crucial to get region based summarized forestry characteristics and to present them by the start of each five-year plan. Presently, taking into account the dynamic character of civil society development and, also, the demand for actual and updated information, the State Forest Fund Account is conducted annually.
The State Forest Cadastre is upkept according to the Article 68 of the Forest Code of the Russian Federation and contains information on economical, environmental and other Forest Fund characteristics. The State Forest Cadastre data is used for:
· State forest management;
· The practical implementation of forest management plans;
· The conversion of forest lands into nonforest lands to be used for purposes that not related to forest management and Forest Fund use;
· Forest Fund lands withdrawal;
· The establishment of timber prices and other forest payments;
· Assessment of the forest user’s economic activity.
Forest monitoring is a system to observe, assess, and forecast the Forest Fund dynamics and its condition for the purposes of the state forest management, guard and protection, which is aimed at the increase of the forest’s ecological value.
· In accordance to various goals and structural divisions, monitoring consists of different methods:
· Forest resource monitoring;
· Forest Fund lands monitoring;
· Forest fire monitoring;
· Purpose-oriented, specific monitoring (including monitoring of the forests, subjected to industrial emissions and radioactive pollution);
· Monitoring of remote and little-researched forests (by means of remote sensing);
· Forest monitoring conducted within a framework of international agreements and conventions.
Taken as a whole, the structure of forest monitoring is reliable enough and meets the requirements, but its technical provision is quite low. Nowadays, all the data sources and information flows are utilized in monitoring activities and forest condition assessment.
An account of the forest in Russia is based on a periodic Forest Fund inventory conducted in accordance with forest inventory and planning procedures. Each territory must be inventoried every 10-15 years. The actual area of annual forest inventory and planning is about 30 mill. ha, which covers 3% of the Forest Fund area at the most. Thus, both the area and the quantity of sites that exceed the inspection period required by the guidelines are accumulating (Fig. 6. Forest Fund Area Distribution and Inventory Periodicity as of April 15, 2002).
Forest inventory and planning has been carried on 61.4% of the Forest Fund area. About 32.6% of the forest area has been thoroughly studied, while 6% of the area was inventoried by using simplified methods, such as aerial-visual inspection and remote sensing. Information about the scope and level of forest inventory and planning throughout Russia is presented in the Fig. 7. The Extent of Exploration of the Russian Forests.
At present, basic forest account information is gained from forest inventory and planning. Reliability of the data presented by administrative regions, regions of the Russian Federation and by the federal districts is strongly dependent on the volume and quality of the forest account. Forest inventory and planning is comprised of a system of measures providing for sustainable Forest Fund use, higher efficiency in management, and common and unified policies in science, technology and research. Forest inventory and planning throughout all the territories of the Forest Fund in Russia is conducted by state forest inventory and planning institutions that follow common and unified rules and approaches, which are established by the federal forest management body. The following parameters are taken into account by inventory and planning operations:
· Species composition;
· Age distribution;
· The health and condition of the forest;
· Other quality and quantity indices.
In the year 2001, 108 forest management units located in 31 subjects of the Russian Federation were involved with the inventory and covered a total area of 28.3 mill. ha, while aerial photography covered an area of 16.8 mill. ha.
Inventory of the preserved forests in Siberia and the Far East is conducted using aerial-visual inspection and remote sensing methods and covers the areas where there is no scheduled exploitation for the coming 15-20 years. These forests are mainly used for local needs. In contrast with forest inventory and planning, the preserved forests inventory does not conduct forest management and site planning. All the boundaries are marked and determined by natural borders such as watersheds and rivers. In the year 2001, the preserved forests inventory covered an area of 5.1.mill. ha.
Forest pathology inspection is carried out to detect pests, diseases and other pathological damage and aims to assess the health and condition of the Forest Fund. Forest pathology experts, working for the forest protection divisions of the Ministry of Natural Resources, implement the above-mentioned inspections. The inventory is conducted in:
· The areas which are under the mass outbreaks of pests and diseases;
· The sites damaged by windfalls, fires and other natural calamities;
· Forests suffering from industrial pollution.
Efficient and flexible monitoring and control is annually performed over an area of 7-9 mill. ha. In addition, forest pathology expeditions conduct surveys in the areas where there are complex and unfavorable pathology conditions (almost 8 mill. ha). These expeditions are conducted in order to verify the size of outbreaks and look deeper into the influencing factors, as well as to define the forest protection measures, which are necessary to be implemented. Implementation of the above-mentioned measures allows for timely detection of negative changes in the forests and assists to make forecasts and predictions easier. Annual inspections are conducted on the targeted sites contaminated with radionucleids and are aimed at verifying the boundaries of radioactive pollution, which are to be reflected in the maps. All the activities are conducted following the norms, guidelines and requirements adopted for the forestry sector.
An inventory of current changes in the Forest Fund is a permanent duty of the forest management unit staff. The idea is to monitor the occurring changes resulting from both forestry measures and natural calamities and to reflect them in the reporting documentation. Documentation of the inventory of current changes consists of the basic statistics reported by the forest management units. It is annually submitted to the regional divisions of the Ministry of Natural Resources. The data can be obtained using ground methods (regular surveys, sampling plots) or remote sensing.
For an inventory of the current changes in the preserved forests, space and aerial photography of different scales is utilized, as well as geographical informational systems (GIS) technologies, which are established by the forest inventory and planning institutions.
When natural calamities occur, aerial- and telephotography is used for the most urgent and efficient recording.
Remote sensing interpretation is used in the forest management and planning procedures to reflect the spotted changes and trends.
Documentation of the current changes in the Forest Fund is widely used in monitoring and controlling the Forest Fund and is extensively employed in forest management and planning.
Almost 60% of the total land area of the Russian Federation is considered to be relatively favorable for the forest growth. About 67% of the forestlands meet the coniferous site factor requirements, and 17% are covered with sparse coniferous forests. Taiga and tundra zones take up about 78% of the Forest Fund area.
All the forests are divided into three groups according to their economic and environmental functions. Group I forests (20%) carry out protective functions with restricted usage regimes. Group II forests (6%) are located in the areas of high population density and/or low forest resource potential, and maintain strict forest use practices. These forests also carry out protective functions, having limited usage regimes. Group III forests (73%) are located in the forest abundant regions of Russia and are of commercial value. These forests are meant to meet economic needs on a constant and sustainable basis by providing timber and at the same time, not undermining forest protection functions.
During the last decades, a clear tendency of the Group I forests increase has been established (Fig. 8. Forest Fund Area by Designated Use Categories, thousand ha). This process demonstrates that the state priorities have been maintained, while aiming at further development and preservation of the protective functions of the forests.
The major tree species that make up the forests in the Russian Federation are larch, pine, Siberian pine, spruce, oak, beech, birch, aspen and others. The above species constitute some 90% of all the forested area of the Russian Federation. Other tree species (such as pear, chestnut, and walnut) occupy an area of less than one mill.ha and shrubs (such as Pinus pumila and Betulaceae) cover the remaining area. All of the forests forming species are clustered into three groups: the coniferous group (79%), hardwoods (2%), and softwoods (19%).
Within the coniferous group, the greatest area of land and growing supply belongs to the Larch predominant stands of Siberia and the Far East (more than half of the total area of the coniferous group). Pine trees occupy 23% and spruce trees 15% of the area.
Taken as a whole, these areas, which are covered by these major tree species, have remained quite stable during last decades. Certain changes in the coniferous group area were mainly caused by new measurement regulations adopted in 1985 and 1994. The decrease in forest area for Oak seedlings in the European-Ural part of Russia is the only exception. The decrease was caused by unsatisfactory pathological conditions resulting from natural processes and to a lesser extent, by anthropogenic factors.
Silviculture experts and forest pathology specialists have repeatedly discussed the oak issue, which remains as one of the leading priorities of the Ministry of Natural Resources. The increase in area for softwoods is a negative tendency caused by low demand. The annual allowable cut is steadily decreasing in all regions of the Russian Federation and birch and aspen are becoming predominant among the softwoods.
As for the hardwood group, Stone Birch, which grows in the Far East, occupies half of the area, while the most valuable species, such as oak and beech cover one fourth of the total area.
More than half of all the forests in the Russian Federation are growing on the permafrost soils of Siberia and the Far East, which is a fact that contributes to the rather low productivity of timber-producing areas of the forests. Only 55% of the total forested area of the Russian Federation is considered to be potentially accessible ecologically or economically. A major part of these forests are located in the North European region and along the Trans-Siberian railway. These are areas that already were intensively logged during the past decades.
According to the 2001 state Forest Fund account, the growing stock of major tree species, which make up the forests in the Russian Federation, is 74.5 bill. m3 , including 41.5 bill. m3 of mature and overmature trees with an average growing reserve of some 137 m3 per hectare. In the forests of potential exploitation (remote areas), the growing reserve is higher and makes up to 167 m3 per hectare. The annual mean volume increment for the total forested area of the entire Russian Federation is estimated to be 871.45 mill. m3 (1.34 m3 per hectare).
Half of the total area of coniferous forests is composed of mature and overmature trees. During the last decades, a clear trend is that the age structure of the coniferous forests is becoming more evenly distributed.
The area of young trees is increasing, the area of middle aged and maturing trees is quite stable, and the area of mature and aged trees is decreasing (Table 1). A tendency of leveling of the coniferous tree’s age structure has settled in the European Russia. In the hardwood’s group the age structure has been quite stable during the past 20 years. The accumulation of mature and overmature trees in the softwood category is also observed.
Purpose-oriented final felling is the only efficient means to improve and regulate the age structure.
According to the figure of an annual increment per 1 hectare, Russia ranks among the following countries: Great Britain (100 m3), Bulgaria (104 m3), USA (110 m3). To make a comparison with Austria and Switzerland, these figures are 212 m3 and 334 m3 respectively. At the same time, judging by the mean volume of standing forests per capita, Russia (600 m3) concedes only to Canada (900.1 m3), exceeding Finland (328.1 m3) and Sweden (272.7 m3). This clearly proves that Russia is the one of the most forestry abundant countries of the Northern hemisphere. The total area of potentially exploitable forests in Russia is twice as big as the total forested area of Europe. The size of an exploitable forest site per capita shows that Russia is among the five largest forest powers of the world. Only in Canada, Finland, Sweden and Brazil will one find a larger area than that found in Russia.
Traditionally, the notion “forest use” implies forest harvesting and logging. Timber is harvested at the final felling of mature and aged stands. Various assortments are produced which are needed for both domestic and world markets.
A grounded and reasonable volume of timber felled, which is statistically calculated, is referred to as the Annual Allowable Cut (AAC). In the past years, AAC totaled up to 500 mill. m3 , including 300 mill. m3 for the coniferous category. The ratio of AAC and actual harvest illustrates the “state-of-the-art” in all branches of the forestry sector. In spite of the fact that in 1999 there was an increase in forest harvesting (for the first time over the past few years), only 20% of AAC was actually logged.
Along with the decrease of production, Russia is still going through structural reorganization. However, the forest sector has started to move its production facilities to the regions with higher consumption levels and those, which are located closer to foreign markets. Thus, based on the economic reasons, North Western, Northern, Central and Western parts of Russia have been prioritized for forest use and development. The most significantly low AAC used is found in the forest abundant areas of Siberia and the Far East. Huge forest production facilities were established in these areas during the Soviet times and have become unclaimed due to the lack of forest markets, both domestic and foreign. The most favorable economic conditions are created in the European part of Russia, where the AAC is used at 60-90%, in connection with the coniferous category.
It is necessary to note, that in the beginning of the nineties, growing environmental protection demands had resulted in an AAC decrease of almost 100 mill. m3 . The final felling AAC, completed for the year 2001, consists of 549.8 mill. m3 , including 509.1 mill. m3 of the forests that are governed by the Ministry of Natural Resources.
The significant decrease of forest losses is included among the positive trends in forest management and utilization. The area of undercuts and littered felling sites has reduced nearly two times. The relative loss per 1 m3 of timber harvested has decreased as well as the damage caused during felling operations.
According the Forest Code, forest lease and forest auctions (standing volume) are the major approaches in relation to forest use. In some regions, where the demand for standing timber exceeds the supply, a competition among the forest users has occurred, in which they aim to obtain a leased forest allotment.
At present, there are nearly 3500 state forest enterprises that specialize in logging and processing. Plus, there are 33 thousand various companies addressing these very same issues, as well as trading. Nowadays, 97% of the total number of forest harvesting operations is privatized. The most steady and reliable tenants are those, who have a vertical integrated structure that is established on the basis of the centralization of financial flows, market activities and maintenance, which covers the full technological cycle, beginning at the felling site to ending with the final product. The largest of them are:
· Arkhangelsk pulp and paper mill;
· Solikamsbumprom Joint Stock Company (JSC);
· Solombalsky JSC;
· Syktyvkrsky JSC;
· Onezhsky JSC
· Manturovsky plywood production.
Each of these includes a number of logging enterprises. By integrating with forest management units, these companies provide raw materials, thereby investing into the renovation of logging enterprises. It shows the growing interest that large owners have in the area of efficient development and maintenance.
In the year 2001, about 2.9 thousand allotments were leased, covering the area of 90 mill.ha and having an annual logging volume of 123.5 mill. m3 .
In comparison to the year 2000, the rental charge for 1 m3 of growing timber in the year 2002 increased by 5.3 roubles (32.7%) and totaled 28.7 roubles. The auction price of 1 m3 grew to 18.2 roubles (30%) and totaled 77.7 roubles. The average rate of the forest tax is 38.5 roubles at the minimum rate of 17.9 roubles. The maximum price of a coniferous cubic meter was reached at timber auctions in the Kaliningrad region and totaled 383 roubles. In the Penzenskaya region, the price was 366 roubles, in Bryanskaya – 252 roubles, in Vladimirskaya – 261 roubles, and in Kaluzhskaya region – 218 roubles.
Intermediate forest use includes thinning, selective sanitary felling, reconstruction felling and other types of felling in the low value stands, as well as removal of shrubs and trees, which are loosing their ability to help with nature protection.
These different types of felling are conducted to ensure high productive forest growth, to improve the trees quality and sanitary condition of a forest.
Sanitary felling is carried out with a purpose to improve the stand’s condition by taking away infected, damaged, dead and perishing trees.
Thinning represents a system of selective types of felling that are the growing process of a forest stand. Thinning ensures favorable conditions for growing the best forest forming trees.
Depending on the age of a stand and the economic purposes of forest growing, thinning is subdivided into the following types:
· Shelterwood felling (up to 10 years), for improving species composition and the growth of the main forest forming tree species
· Sanitation felling is conducted in a young stand 11-20 years of age to improve growth condition and regulate the density of the main tree specie.
· Crown thinning is conducted in middle aged stands (21-40 years) to create favorable conditions for the best stem and crown formation
· Thinning is carried out in a maturing stand to create favorable growing conditions.
In 2001, the volume of intermediate fellings and other cuts made up 18.2. It makes more than 20% of timber harvested at the final fellings. In fact, higher volumes could be harvested. The volume of intermediate fellings can make up at least half of the final fellings volume without breaking the rules of forest management. Timely fellings and using trees that are dying off could increase the intermediate felling volume (Fig. 9. Intermediate Felling Volumes, mill. m3; Fig. 10. Other Fellings Volumes, mill. m3).
In the year 2001, about 46.8 mill. ha of forest stands were transferred to the high value category due to the timely conducted intermediate thinnings. The sanitary fellings were carried out over the total area of 250 thousand hectares (including clear sanitary fellings of 61.2 thous. ha).
Forest resources include both timber and non-timber forest products. Minor forest products, secondary forest use, and hunting are of special importance for the people, who closely depend on forests. Traditionally, minor forest products include: fodder, technical raw materials, and decorative raw materials for ornamental and applied art.
Technical raw materials include mainly tanning substances and natural dyes. The most popular fodder is vitamin flours produced from coniferous twigs and is used as supplementary fodder for livestock.
Forests growing at permafrost soils are of quite low productivity. However, they are abundant in terms of non-timber forest products and bear significant social and economic value. According to experts, the estimated annual commercial yield of berries (cranberry, cowberry, blueberry) makes up 4 mill. tones and mushrooms make up about 2.1 mill. tones. The stocks of medicinal plants (Panax ginseng, Eleutherococcus senticosus, Rhodiola rosea, Schisandra chinensis, etc.) are of great demand both at the domestic and international markets and are extensively growing in the forests. The economic value of non-timber forest products and services offered by forests, growing at permafrost soils, is higher than the growing timber value. Strengthening and developing recreational values, tourism, hunting and nature protection is in many cases more profitable than harvesting.
According to experts, the estimated market value of commercial stock of wild berries amounts to more than 10 bill. USD annually, while commercial stock of mushrooms is estimated as 5 bill. USD annually. According to the Forest Code of the RF other types of forest use, other than harvesting, are carried out. These are:
· By products, e.g. stumps, birch bark, coniferous twigs
· Secondary forest use (hay, grazing, beekeeping, berries, mushrooms, nuts, medicinal plants, moss, lichen)
· Forest Fund areas used for hunting.
Cranberry, fox berry, cloudberry, blueberry, and raspberry are among the major species of wild-growing berries of interest and demand.
Siberian pine is the key nut-producing wildgrowing tree species. Almost 40 mill. ha are covered with Siberian pine forests, and this tree is the major forest forming species for Western and Eastern Siberian forests and the Far Easter taiga. To preserve these forests, the so-called nut-harvesting zones started have been marked since 1953. These zones are excluded from the commercial forests and the felling of Siberia pine is prohibited. At present, over 10.5 mill. ha of Siberian pine forests have been transferred to the category of nut harvesting.
Thickets and brushwoods of Dwarf Siberian pine occupy almost 25 mill. ha in the mountain forests of East Siberia in the Far East.
Mushrooms are one of the most important non-timber forest products. This is a large group of primary plants inclusive of over 30 thousand species. About three thousand of the species are the so-called “cape” mushrooms, and over 200 of the species are edible. Birch sap is one of the high-demand, non-timber forest products. Although there are about 40 birch species in Russia, only European birch and White birch are used for birch sap commercial harvesting.
According to the Basic Rules of Miner Forest Use, sap harvesting is allowed in a mature stand designated for final felling not earlier than 5 years before the prescribed cut.
Up until now, non-timber forest resources have not been included in the planned commercial exploitation. A proper account of available non-timber forest products is still missing.
Forest ecosystems are characterized by high radioactive sensitivity, a great capacity to absorb radionuclides, and slow purification. In addition, long-lasting radionuclides, such as caesium-137 and strontium-90, join the biological circulation of substances and can accumulate in perennial vegetation.
Uncontrolled use of radio-polluted forest resources, as well as staying in a forest with gamma-radiation exceeding the level of natural radiation, is dangerous for the human life. Therefore, a special, safety-based approach is applied for the management of radio-contaminated forests. This approach is based on principles of regulation, substantiation and optimization of radiological safety. All these activities are differentiated by zones of radioactive pollution and take into account levels of soil, land surface, vegetation pollution, and the dose of gamma-radiation. Based on these parameters, an individual forest management approach is elaborated by paying special attention to labor protection and radiation safety.
Obligatory radiation control and safety observations are conducted on the territories affected by radioactive pollution. These activities are performed by the Radiation Control Service (RCS), which employs experts in the field of radiology and forest experts, who are responsible for forest management, protection and regeneration. The RCS is part of the state forest management administration at all levels (from Federal to local). The RCS also carries out an obligatory control over the forest products by tracing caesium-137 and strontium-90 content and by meeting other requirements and standards.
At present, the total area of the Forest Fund land that is polluted by caesium-137, resulting from the Chernobyl accident, takes up 1 mill. ha. All totaled, the lands that are polluted by radio nuclides are registered in 130 forest management units and spread over 23 subjects of the Russian Federation. The condition of the polluted lands is under permanent monitoring. Special measures are undertaken to decrease the dose and to prevent secondary environmental pollution. The data of the areas of the Forest Fund, polluted as a result of the Chernobyl accident, are provided in Table 2. The radioactive pollution has dramatically changed the natural and consumer characteristics of the Forest Fund lands, thereby breaking forest management approaches and practices of multiple forest use. This pollution has also caused significant changes in reforestation, forest fire protection and protection from pests and diseases. It also influences the social and economic structure. The radioactive background in the forests, contaminated with long-lasting radio nuclides, is changing very slowly. The cleansing process will spread over decades and during this period, the Forest Fund lands will be radioactively dangerous. Thus, a special system of forest management, aiming at safety and health protection, as well as other ecologically sound approaches, has been developed and introduced into the zones where there is radioactive pollution.
The main goal of forest restoration is to timely restore economically valuable stands in the felling sites, burnt areas and dying off sites, as well as to decrease Forest Fund land area that is not covered with forest vegetation.
The overwhelming majority of forests in Russia are of natural origin and only 3% of lands covered with forest vegetation are artificially planted. Forest restoration is closely linked to harvesting. Reduction of harvesting volumes for the last 10 years has caused the decrease of clear felled areas as the main forest restoration sites.
The forest restoration volumes from the mean annual actual harvest of 0.5 mill. ha (1997– 2001) are presented in Fig. 11 (Reforestation dynamics, thousand ha). In total, reforestation measures in Russia are carried out in accordance with the established standards.
In the year 2001, almost 214 km of forestry roads were constructed. Also, 1207 tones of seeds were collected, including 177 tones of coniferous species (pine, spruce, larch) and 1586 mill. items of planting material were grown. Agro technical treatment of the forest plantations was conducted over an area of 913.4 thousand ha, almost 173.1 thousand ha were prepared for planting in 2002. Over 1.43 mill. ha of young stands were transferred to the category of economical value. Protective afforestation represents a complex approach to plant, grow and use forests to protect agricultural lands, soil, roads, channels and settlements from unfavorable natural phenomena such as droughts, storms, water erosion, dust storm, snow drift, floods and damaging mechanical impact. Over 18.1 thousand ha of farmlands were planted under protective afforestation in 2001 and almost 98.1 thousand ha of low value forests underwent land improvement. About 657 mill. roubles were withdrawn from the budgets of the subjects of the Russian Federation and allocated for the forest restoration in 2001. This covered only 23% of the required sum. The missing means came from the forest management unit’s profits that were received from timber sales and other activities.
Forest fire protection. The area of land that is classified as Class I and Class II for fire danger, which is characterized by low flammability, takes up 32.7% of the Forest Fund. Class III of forest danger is characterized by medium flammability and takes up 30.3% of land area. Class IV and Class V (high and extremely high flammability) amount to 37.0% of the total Forest Fund area. The average amount forest area that is annually burned by forest fires totals about one million ha and varies considerably, depending on climatic conditions. Creeping fires are the most common and they burn away about 90% of the total forest fires area. In the Russian forests, anywhere from 17 to 36 thousand forest fires are registered annually (Fig. 12. Flammability Dynamics of the Russian Forests Over the Period of 1991–2001). About 20.9 thousand fires were spotted in 2001, and the area totaled about 868 thousand ha. This is 372 thousand ha less than in 2000. The mean area of a forest fire has decreased by 24.8 ha and amounts to about 41.6 ha. The damage caused by forest fires in 2001 was estimated at 2.9 billion roubles. There are two major reasons for forest fires, which are: anthropogenic (due to agricultural burnings and human carelessness), and natural (lightning).
According to the forest flammability analysis, over the past 10 years, up to 72% of forest fires are caused by humans, about 7% result from agricultural burnings, 7% originate from lightning and 14% of fires are due to other causes. Figure 13 (Main Causes of Forest Fires) presents the data on the forest fires caused in 2001. Up to 40% of the fires in Siberia and the Far East are caused by lightning. Fires, caused by humans, usually occur in the areas of highly developed infrastructure. According to the Forest Code, forest fire protection is carried out by ground and aerial methods. Almost 751.2 mill. ha are under aerial and ground observation. The forest fire fighting service employs about 100 thousand people to work on land, and a network of technically equipped divisions, such as fire tanks, fire land rovers, tractors, bulldozers, high-pressure pumps, fire extinguishers, and other tools, has been developed. Every forest management unit is equipped with forest fire towers that are provided with TV and remote control equipment. The federal fire fighting body, called “Avialesookhrana”, is comprised of 23 air bases – 4 of which have their own aircraft divisions, conducts all aerial forest fire observations. The total number of staff amounts to 3.7 thousand persons.
Forest fire suppression costs amounted to 621.3 mill. roubles in 2001, but only 485.4 mill. roubles were covered by the Federal budget. The damage caused by forest fires, which have the tendency to increase in number and area, as well as their frequency and the extreme situations caused by massive and overwhelming forest fires, which take place about 2-3 times a decade, allow forest fires to be in the category of emergency status.
From forest fire suppression experience, it has become clear that forest protection propaganda against forest fires has to be enhanced, involving different social and age groups of the local population. Also, timely detection by applying space, aerial and ground methods, as well as further development of specialized forest fire fighting units has to be enhanced. GIS technologies help greatly in making forecasts, providing flexible and timely assistance, strengthening operative maneuverability, and with the stationing of the fire fighting brigades.
There is a need for forest fire zoning of the Forest Fund area, especially in Siberia and the Far East. This work requires re-working the current legislation and paying special attention to the environmental and economical assessment of the consequences of forest fires.
Forest protection from pests and diseases. Forest protection from pests and diseases plays quite a significant role in the State Forest Service activities (Ministry of Natural Resources division). The mean area of pests and disease outbreaks composes up to 2.7 million ha annually. The average area of perishing forests amounts to 60 thousand ha annually and varies greatly. Thus, during the outbreak of mass reproduction of phytophagans in 1996, the perishing forests were registered as being over 198 thousand ha. The increase of needle- and leaf- eating insects has been observed for the last three years. This trend depends on many factors. The first reason has to do with the natural fluctuation of the pest populations. Favorable weather conditions may speed up the natural process of pest development, and they are able to increase their numbers in a short time, which can lead to an outbreak of harmful pests. The total area of harmful pest and disease outbreak made up 10 million ha in 2001. Nearly 70% of this area was affected by the Siberian moth (Dendrolimus sibiricus) and the gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar).
In Yakutia, an outbreak of the Siberian moth (Dendrolimus sibiricus) spread over an area of 6 million ha and started to fade away only after certain measures were undertaken and favorable natural conditions occurred. According to the forecast of the Forest Protection Service, in the year 2002 there was a risk of significant damage caused by the most damaging pests, which are leaf- and needleeating insects. Irreversible consequences may have been caused by:
· Siberian moth, which damaged an area of 336.6 thousand ha in Khabarovsk region, 40 thousand ha in Irkutsk region, and 10 thousand ha in Buriatia;
· Nun moth (Liparis), which damaged an area of 12.8 thousand ha in the Kurgan region and 11.3 thousand ha in Mordovia;
· Sawflies, which damaged an area of 19.2 thousand ha in Volgograd region, 7.5 thousand ha in Kurgan region, 9.2 thousand ha in Rostov region, and 21.6 thousand ha in Chelyabinsk region.
The sawyer beetle (Monochamus sp.) is the most wide spread stem pest. Outbreaks of the Monohamus have reached the areas of 115 thousand ha in the Krasnoyarsk region and 10 thousand ha in the Primorsky district. There are two leading forest diseases, which are wide spread all over Russia. One is fir cancer, which damaged 445 thousand ha in the Kemerovo region, and the other is root rot, which damaged 160.5 thousand ha in Moscow, Brjansk, Perm, and Voronezh region.
Apart from the biological peculiarities of pest and disease development, a set complex of negative factors is causing an overall deterioration of the forest pathological situation in the Russian forests. Forest Protection Service shortcomings, such as lack of forest protection experts and insufficient financing, do not allow for the ability to timely conduct forest pathology inspections and apply pest-exterminating operations.
Applying different methods and technical means helps to carry out monitoring and control over the destructive insects and diseases. However, none of the existing methods is universal or, in other words appropriate for any case. Controlling has a chance of being successful if it is carried out systematically by applying all means available. The approach depends on the species composition (meaning pests and diseases), the degree of damage caused, and the environmental and natural conditions in a forest stand. Over half a million hectares is annually treated against pests and diseases. The combination of bacterial and viral preparations amounts to 55% of the biological methods used.
An area of 10 million ha is annually involved in forest health monitoring, which is a system of flexible and efficient control over the condition of the forest that ensures timely detection of pathological changes in a stand, as well as comes up with forecasts.
In 2001, forest pathology expeditions were carried out over an area of 7.5 million ha and the method used was airborne landing. Using ground methods about 180 thousand hectares were inspected. Unfortunately, the surveyed area is twice as small as the required one, which would ensure timely detection of pathological changes and help to prescribe due means of forest protection.
A network of specially protected nature territories plays an important role in preserving typical and unique natural landscapes, plant diversity, wildlife, and sites of natural and cultural heritage. According to the Federal law of the Russian Federation “On the Specially Protected Natural Territories” (N 33 dated March 14, 1995), the specially protected natural territories include land plots and water bodies, with the air space above them, within the boundaries of the sites of special value in terms of science, aesthetics, recreation and health care. These are the sites that are officially excluded from management regime and that are under specific nature protection management. The following categories of specially protected sites that are officially in use:
· State nature reserves (strict nature zapovedniks), including biosphere reserves;
· National parks;
· Nature parks;
· Wildlife preserves (zakaznik);
· Nature monuments;
· Dendrological parks (arboreta) and botanical gardens;
· Resorts and health-care sites.
Apart from the specially protected territories, the following sites are of due importance and environmental value:
· Forest reserves;
· Forest stands of special value;
· Forest stands of due scientific and historical importance;
· Genetic reserves;
· Relict habitat sites populated with rare, endemic, and threatened flora and fauna species.
These all play a crucial role in the formation of an ecological framework of a certain region. A state nature reserve (zapovednik) is the most traditional form of site protection and is clearly prioritized for biological diversity conservation. One hundred zapovedniks, with a total area of 33.5 million ha, were established in the Russian federation by the year 2002. They stretch over the territory of 64 subjects of the Russian Federation. According to the legislation, zapovedniks are establishments for nature conservation, scientific research and environmental education.
The system of Russian state nature reserves (zapovedniks) is recognized with respect all over the world. Twenty-one zapovedniks have the international status of biosphere reserves, seven are under the jurisdiction of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage convention, ten are under the jurisdiction of the Wetlands convention of international importance, especially as being considered to be waterfowl habitat, and four zapovedniks have been awarded with European Union Diplomas. Territories, that include natural complexes and sites, that have special economic, historical and aesthetic value, that are intended for nature conservation, environmental, educational, scientific, and cultural purposes, and that are designed for regulated tourism, are declared as national parks. By the year 2002 there were 35 national parks in Russia with a total area of 6.9 mill. ha.
Nature parks of regional importance fit into a rather new category of specially protected areas. They represent establishments for nature conservation and recreation that come under the jurisdiction of the subjects of the Russian Federation. At present, the national parks network is in the developmental stage, and only 30 nature parks are officially registered.
Wildlife preserves (zakaznik) are the territories of special importance for the preservation or restoration of natural complexes (or components), as well as for the maintaining of ecological balance. State zakazniks carry out nature protection functions under the regime of restricted economic activities and restricted utilization of natural resources. There are 68 wildlife preserves of the federal importance (total area 12.5 mill.ha) and 2.5. thousand wildlife preserves of regional importance.
Nature monuments are unique and irreplaceable sites of high ecological, scientific, cultural and aesthetic value, which are of natural and artificial origin. Depending on the value of the site, it can be of federal or regional importance. There are 9 thousand nature monuments in Russia including 27 nature monuments of federal importance (total area 4.2 mill. ha).
There are 153 resorts with a balneological, climatic and mud-care profile in Russia. Most of them (52 resorts) are located in the Northern Caucasus.
Recreation is an important aspect of forest use. Forest lands, accessible for walks and visits, such as nature parks, zakazniks, urban and municipal forests, are considered sites for recreational use. In no uncertain terms, all the Forest Fund lands (both covered and noncovered with forests) are considered as recreational sites and include rivers, lakes, glades, rocks, alpine meadows, roads, etc. Recreational use is defined as the utilization of the forest benefits for the recreation of people. According to the Forest Code of the Russian Federation, the forest users, when on the Forest Fund sites that are designated for cultural, health improving, tourism and sporting purposes, must undertake site improvement measures. Natural landscapes and forests have to be preserved and, therefore, fire safety rules and sanitary requirements have to be followed.
Forest policy implementation requires adequate and appropriate personnel. There are 220.1 thousand employees currently working for the State Forest Service (MNR Russia), including 62.8 thousand managers and experts. About 23.6 thousand experts have graduated from schools of higher education and 32 thousand have a vocational school education. At present, foresters (“Forestry and Forest Park Management”) are trained in 14 different higher education institutions all over Russia. Additionally, forest faculties were established in ten more higher education institutions.
Specialized MNR higher educational institutions (15 vocational schools, 4 forest colleges, and 3 technical colleges) offer vocational education in forestry. Teaching and training at these institutions of higher education, is focused the four majors. Every year there are approximately three thousand people, who graduate with a technical specialization.
Different forms of continuous education and raising qualification are being developed. For instance, an intensive three – year program is offered to obtain the degree of the higher education. The program is designed for those, who have received special secondary voluntary education. Specialized institutions of continuous education aid in professional skills improvement of managers and other experts. Educated foresters, forest managers, forest scientists and many others are working in a forest and constitute the basis for the successful and perspective forest management.
Ten research institutions present the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia. Since the beginning of the 1990’s, considerable personnel reductions took place. The total staff of the institutions was reduced twice, the number of Ph.D and Doctoral holders have reduced 1.6 times. Nevertheless, research institutions do function and provide scientific grounds to every forest management sector. MNR Russia is the only state executive body (in addition to the Ministry of Science) ensuring implementation of major research and experimental practices. Thus, the status of forest research institutions has been changed, and since they have become part of MNR structure, they share responsibility with other forest management bodies in the subjects of the Russian Federation. Ensuring scientific and technical progress in forestry is their key responsibility.
Up to the year 2002 forest research and experimental activities were carried out within the federal forest research programs such as ”Forest Fire Protection, “Forests of Russia”, and “State Support of Nature Reserves and National Parks”. Research institutions took part in the activity of the following subprograms:
· The Russian Forest;
· Forestry Genetics: The Priority Directions of Further Development;
· Volga Revival;
· Complex Timber Utilization;
· Chernobyl and Ural programs on radioactive rehabilitation of land and population; · EGASKRO program;
· Joint Russia-Belorussian programs, aiming at overcoming consequences of the Chernobyl disaster.
The sub-program “Forests” was developed and supported by the federal program titled “Ecology, Environment and Natural Resources of the Russian Federation (2002–2010). Its main goal is to conserve and reproduce the forests as a raw material resource providing locals with timber and non-timber forest products. Teaching that forest is an important nature-forming component when managed in a proper and sustainable way is another goal of the program.
Forest science gains new perspective focusing on international commitments of the Russian Federation. Convention on Biodiversity, Convention of Climate Change, standing volume certification, and a set of requirements to be met for the entering FAO are among the issues of scientific and practical interest. National norms and standards have to be in line with the world standards.
The violation of the forest legislation, including illegal harvesting, unauthorized occupation of the Forest Fund lands, damage by sewage, chemical and radioactive substances, industrial and consumers emissions causes significant damage to the forests leading to greater ecological consequences.
Low efficiency of the executive bodies was revealed in the analysis conducted to control the observance of the forest legislation revealed. Up to now, none of the articles of the Forest Code determining the authority of the subjects of the Russian Federation (Articles 36, 43, 96, 107, 121, 122, and 123) have ever been implemented in any region. State programs on use, control, protection of the Forest Fund lands and reproduction of forests (Art.70) were adopted and are implemented in 14 subjects of the Russian Federation. Only 23% of total expenses in the field of use, control, protection of the Forest Fund land and forest reproduction are financed (Art. 108). Harvesting guidelines (secondary forest use) are adopted for 12 subjects of the Russian Federation (Art. 120). The number of revealed cases on legislation violations has grown during the past years. In 2001, about 29.4 thousand violations were registered in the Forest Fund lands under the MNR jurisdiction. Almost 941.4 thousand m3 of timber were harvested illegally (Fig. 14. Illegal Harvesting in the Russian Forest). The estimated damage is 2.8 bill. roubles.
A considerable increase of illegal harvesting has occurred and was registered in a number of regional MNR departments:
· The Republic of North Osetia – Alania – 3 times increase;
· Khanty-Mansiisk autonomous district – 2.6 times increase;
· The Republic of Adygeya – 2.5 times increase;
· Kursk region – 2.3 times increase;
· Cheljabinsk region – 2.1. time increase.
At the same time, there is a steady progress in combating illegal harvesting in some other regions. The forest guard officials have reported that the number of violations in certain regions such as Murmansk region, Kemerovo, Magadan, Komi, and Perm’ is still increasing.
Illegal harvesting is not only a forestry related issue; it also involves transportation and trade of the illegal timber, illegal timber processing, illegal export, as well as customs violations and price infringements. In 2001 there were more than 10.2 thousand protocols on forest violations submitted to the investigation agencies and another 9.4 thousand protocols were ordered an inquiry. About 1142 persons were made responsible for criminal infringements and administrative bodies imposed over 7 thousand penalties.
Apart from forest protection the State Forest Protection Service carries out a set of measures on the protection of wildlife and habitats. There were over 3729 violations of the wildlife legislation registered in the year of 2001. Therefore, there is a critical need to strengthen and improve the State Forest Protection Service. According to the data from January 1, 2001 the number of the State Forest Protection Service employees was 106.1 thousand persons, including 66.2 thousand forest rangers, 12.8 thousand of foremen, 14 thousand of foresters and assistant foresters. According to the estimated standard of forest guard and protection, there are 123 thousand persons needed to guarantee efficient control and protection of the Forest Fund lands.
The main goal of the State Forest Service of Russia (SFS) is to represent the country at negotiations with other states and international organizations on the issues of sustainable forest management, environmental protection and global forest policy developments. The SFS takes an active part in the process of international negotiations on forests and explains the position of Russia on the issue of implementation of national strategies and programs on sustainable forest management. SFS experts take an active part in the Intergovernmental Working Group on Criteria and Indicators of nature conservation and sustainable management of boreal and temperate forests (Montreal process). Another important regional forum actively attended by SFS is the Pan-European process including the Ministerial Conference on Protection of Forests in Europe.
One of the fundamental goals of the state forest service of Russia is the preparation and implementation of international agreements signed by the Russian Federation. The ones on cooperation in the field of forestry are of particular interest. The forest service ensures realization of signed agreements with the USA, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Hungary, Great Britain and other countries. The Ministry of Natural Resources coordinated bilateral relations with foreign miniseries and agencies responsible for forestry. We are proud to announce following programs as the State Forest Service accomplishments:
· Russian – Finnish program on the development of the North-West of Russia;
· Russia – USA program on monitoring of gypsy moth population in Primorsky kray;
· Russia – Canada and Russia – Switzerland programs on model forests.
Grants offered by international sponsoring institutions have become additional sources for forestry development in the subjects of the Russian Federation has become. During the past decades the projects on sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation have been supported by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), TACIS, Know-How Foundation, the British Council, Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), the Worldwide Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), and the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
There is a global process of reappraisal of the importance of forests and their role in human’s life. Not too long ago forests were considered simply as forest products providers such as wood source and fuel wood supplier. At present, forests attained social and cultural value. Mankind has developed a new strategy of sustainable development, and thus, – economic prosperity without jeopardizing this resource.
The sustainable forest management agrees with a principle that is included in the Forest Code of the Russian Federation and comes as following: “ensuring sustained and unexhaustive use of Russian forests, their protection and reproduction”.
Forests meet various human requirements; they are a source of numerous ecologically safe foodstuffs, they represent living environment for many people and maintain people’s spiritual and physical health. Therefore, forests serve as a fundamental link in nature conservation and natural regulation of environmental processes. Forests represent the very basis for the human survival.
Russian forests with their preserved vast virgin territories are of global importance due to the extensive forest cover, rich biodiversity, their role in the global carbon and oxygen cycles, and their potential impact on international trade of forest products.
Judging by the forest area and the growing stock, the Russian forests make up 50% of the total area and standing volume of boreal and temperate zones.
It is a great responsibility to carry out a qualitative account of forest state and condition, ensuring their safety, reproduction and sustainable use.
Maintenance and enhancement of national forest resources can be achieved through sustainable forest management. Such a forest management should provide sustainable use of forest resources, functions and benefits, which are of value for present and future needs of human civilization on the basis of the balance of interests of different population groups, industry and forest administration without causing any damage to environmental quality and biodiversity of forests.
Forests provide living conditions for humans, as well as they ensure steady environment and contribute to stable economic development of a country. Forest conservation is a certain guarantee of biodiversity conservation, which is one of the key components of the sustainable development. The diversity and the variety of endemic species presented in the forests of Primorje, Altai, Sayjan, Caucasus, and of Southern Urals is the highest compared to similar ecosystems of the world. Vast and immense pre-tundra forests play vital role maintaining stable climatic conditions and preventing tundra forests from advancing towards the south. Thus, the forests of Siberia and the Far East located at permafrost soils are of special importance. As for the forests of arid zone, they keep the deserts from further expanding. Criteria and indicators of the sustainable forest management of the temperate and boreal forests include a set of estimates that allow determining the progress of one country or another towards the sustainable forest management.
Criteria and indicators represent a clear reference for the decision-makers and for those, who formulate national forest policy. Also, they serve as a basis for international cooperation in the field of forest protection and sustainable forest management.
With the help of Montreal criteria’s, which are: biodiversity, forest productivity, forest health and vitality, soil and water resources, input of forests into the global carbon cycle, socio-economic benefits, juridical, political and organizational contexts, the priorities of the sustainable forest management have been set.
Forest management that is based on criteria and indicators presupposes ecosystem approach. Individual criteria and indicators are unable to provide an exhaustive account of forest conservation and a thorough assessment of sustainable development of the forest ecosystems. Thus, they have to be considered in an agreement with other criteria and indicators.
Biodiversity is defined as variability of living organisms, including diversity within the species, among the species and among the ecosystems. Conservation of forest biodiversity is important to support forest productivity and resistance.
In the Russian Federation forest management is aiming at the sustainable forest use and is striving for efficient forest protection, conservation, and reforestation. Forest management is based on the principles of sustainability and biodiversity conservation. It is also directed at strengthening both: the resource potential and environmental capacity of the forests. Moreover, it aims to meet the needs and requirements of the society and rests on the scientifically grounded and multipurpose forest management and exploitation (Forest Code of the Russian Federation, Article 3).
Conservation of biological diversity presupposes maintenance of historically developed ecosystems as well as fully formed natural landscapes that have become habitats for various groups of living organisms. Biological diversity means the diversity of ecosystems, species and also genetic diversity. The existing information about the biological diversity of Russian forests is far from being complete. Forest ecosystem inventory is currently being conducted based on typological approach. The key information on biological diversity that has developed through time and characterizes this particular group of indicators was obtained from the State Forest Fund Accounts up to the year of 2001. High forest ecosystem diversity is a clear feature of Russian forests. About 25% of undisturbed forests of the world are concentrated in Russia. These are vast areas that constitute a certain standard of biological diversity and natural development of the forest ecosystems. The assessment of Russian forests by the “Biodiversity Conservation” criteria was performed using three groups of indicators that looked at the three different levels: ecosystem, specie, and genetic levels.
The total area of major forest forming species is used to evaluate this indicator. This data is obtained from the State Forest Fund Account. The land area (trees and shrubs) and major forest forming species is shown in the Table 3.
Larch predominance (Larix sibirica, Larix gmelinii, Larix cajanderi, Larix czekanowskii) represents the largest area and highest volumes among the coniferous forests. These stands are in a very good condition as they are located in the areas of weak infrastructure (Siberia and the Far East) (Fig. 15. The Distribution of the Major Forest Forming Species).
Pine predominant stands (Pinus sylvestris mostly) have been under heavy exploitation for many years. Pine stands are second most distributed forests in the territory of the Russian Federation. Careful forest management is required for maintaining the existing biodiversity of pine stands. Dark coniferous forests constitute about 13% of the total Forest Fund area. More than a half of them are located in the European-Ural part of Russia. Spruce forests are predominantly represented by Picea abies, Picea obovata, Picea ajanensis, also including hybrid forms of spruces formed at the borders of the areals. Fir dominating stands are limited and grow at the restricted areas mostly in the Urals, in south and west Siberia, and in the Far East. Limited areas of the pure fir stands are formed by Abies sibirica, Abies nordmanniana, Abies nephrolepis, and Abies sachalinensis. Dark coniferous forests (taiga forest zone) are generally undisturbed. Balanced and sustainable management of dark coniferous forests are required to “bridge” commercial, environmental, and biodiversity components.
Siberian pine (Pinus sibirica) forests are mostly located in Siberia, and Pinus koraensis stands found in the Far East. In total, their area constitutes about 40 mill. ha. Siberian pine is of a great value not only for timber, but also for the variety of non-timber products. Moreover, Siberian pine forests represent unique habitats for many species of flora and fauna and thus should become a high priority since they are the key components of the sustainable forest management.
Stands with birch predominance are very common among the softwooded broadleaved forests (Betula pendula and Betula pubescens mostly). Smaller areas are occupied with aspen (Populus tremula) forests. Forests constituted by these broadleaved species are formed mainly at the felling sites, forest fire sites and at the abandoned agricultural lands. Forest stands with alder (Alnus incana, Alnus glutinosa, Alnus hirsuta), poplar (Populus nigra, Populus suaveolens, Populus maximovichii) and willow predominance (Salix alba, Salix fragilis) are mostly coincided with riverbanks and provide soil and water protection functions. Linden stands also belong to softwooded broadleaved forests and have been actively exploited in the past. Uncontrolled use of linded stands resulted in a rapid decrease of their distribution area. Linden is growing widely in the European part of Russia, and Tilia cordata represents the majority of stands in the Urals. Smaller areas of linden are found in the south of the Far East and are mostly presented by Tilia amurensis, Tilia mandshurica, Tilia taquetti.
Among the hardwooded broadleaved species, birch is the predominant specie growing mostly in the Far East (Betula costata, Betula davurica, Betula ermanii, Betula lanata, Betula schmidtii). Among hardwooded broadleaved species oak stands are the second most distributed specie. These forests are characterized by high level of biodiversity. About 55% of oak forests are concentrated in the European part of Russia (Quercus robur). Mongolian oak (Quercus mongolica) is predominant in the Far East. Forest areas formed by another hardwooded species such as beech, blackwood, ash, maple or elm are not significant and, therefore, of a special value. They require delicate approach and caring management. Haloxylon forests (Haloxylon aphyllum) represent rather unique plant type, which is characteristic for semideserts of Prikaspy. They provide soil and water protection functions. Other forests, such as chestnut – Castanea sp, pear – Pyrus sp, Gleditsia sp, walnuts – Juglans regia, Manchzhurian nut – Juglans mandshurica) occupy small areas but are vitally important for biodiversity conservation. Dwarf Siberian pine (Pinus pumila) forests growing in Siberia and in the Far East are of significant ecological value and are also important source of nuts. Apart from the Dwarf Siberian pine, growing in the unfavorable conditions, shrub forms of the birch species (Betula ovalifolia, Betula fruticosa) are widely spread in Siberia and in the Far East.
Information about the area of distribution of the forest forming species by age is not presented in the State Forest Fund Account (SFFA). However, this information is kept in the SFFA database. Forest stands are grouped into the age groups based on the age of final felling and on the age classes. Age class is an interval, characterizing the age of trees and shrubs:
· 20 years gradation was set for hardwoods and coniferous of seed origin;
· 10 years gradation was set for softwoods and hardwoods of sprout origin;
· 5 years or one year gradation was set for shrubs.
Siberian pine forests are an exception as the age class gradation is 40 years.
Depending on the age, forest stands are divided into five groups: 1 – young growth of the 1st age group, 2 – young growth of the 2nd age group, 3 – middle aged forests, 4 – maturing forests, 5 – mature and overmature forests.
Table 4 provides information about forest distribution of the major forest forming species based on its age group. Mature and overmature stands are dominating in every group of forest forming species throughout the Russian Federation. Middle-aged forests are the second most spread forests in the territory of the Russian Federation. Maturing stands occupy the smallest areas. Forest distribution based on different age classes is highly uneven. Leaf tree species are predominant in the area of mature and overmature stands. They have a remote location growing mostly in Siberia and are of limited exploitation (Fig. 16. Extent of Area by Age Class, years). Currently, there has been a pattern of the decrease of the areas of mature and overmature coniferous stands.
There is no generalized data on forest species composition of specially protected areas. IUCN representative office for Russia and CIS countries, together with WWF – Russia has generalized data on the areas of nature-protected forests that belong to different categories of IUCN (Table 5).
Protected forests include stands, growing in the nature protected areas and other stands that belong to the Group I forests. According to the IUCN classification, about 23.4% of land area, which is covered with forest vegetation, belong to different forest conservation categories.
According to IUCN classification, state nature reserves (strict protection) belong to Category I of protected lands constituting 1.3% of the total land area. These are the most strictly protected areas. National parks and nature parks (ecosystem conservation and tourism) fall into Category II (0.8% of the total land area), category III and IV (conservation of natural features and conservation through active management) are represented by the state nature zakazniks (wildlife preserves); nature monuments of federal, regional, and local significance; forests of historical and scientific value, and stands of special value (4.9 % of the total land area). Category V (landscape/seascape conservation and recreation) includes state shelterbelt forests and occupies insignificant area. They carry out ecological and water protective functions (Fig. 17. Percent of Forest Land Managed for Protection in Relation to the Total Area of The Forest Fund). Category VI (sustainable use of natural ecosystems) includes most of the Group I forests (15.8% of the total land area), including sanitary zones of water supply sources, resort areas buffer zones, ravine forests, fruit stands, nut producing forests, pre-tundra forests, spawning grounds protection forests, forest green belts, lentochny bor (pine forest belt), forest stands of sparsely wooded lands, restricted forest areas along the water bodies. Data on the major forest forming species of national parks is presented in Table 6.
Group I forests is the best category to evaluate using 1.1d indicator. The major functions of Group I forests are: water protection, water regulation, and ravine function (Table 7).
According to the location and to the functions, Group I forests are divided into the following categories:
· Restricted forest stripes along rivers, lakes, water reservoirs and other water bodies;
· Restricted forest stripes protecting spawning grounds;
· Ravine forests;
· Protected forests along the of the federal, republic and regional railroads;
· State shelterbelt forests;
· Lentochny bor (pine forest belt);
· Forests of desert and semi desert areas, steppe and forest steppe; mountainous forest stands of sparsely wooded lands that are of vital environmental importance;
· Forests of the green zones around settlements and administrative buildings;
· Forests of the sanitary zones of water supply sources;
· Forests of nut producing areas;
· Fruit stands;
· Pre-tundra forests;
· Forests of the I, II, and III zones of the sanitary protection of the resorts.
Final felling is conducted at the areas of the following categories:
· Restricted forest stripes along rivers, lakes, water reservoirs and other water bodies;
· Protective forests along the federal, republic and regional;
· Forests of the green belts around settlements and administrative buildings;
· Lentochny bor (pine forest belt);
· Forests of desert and semi desert areas, forests of steppe and forest steppe, mountainous forest stands of sparsely wooded lands that are of vital environmental importance.
Final felling at these areas aims at stands’ improvement, is directed to strengthen forest natural functions and is designed to timely and efficiently use mature and overmature stands.
A large number of extra valuable tree species such as Siberian pine, pine, spruce, oak, beech, hornbeam, maple, ash, elm and stone birch belong to the Group I forests, which is characterized by restricted exploitation regime. In terms of area, middle aged and maturing stands are dominating. They provide excellent environmental and water protection functions.
The index of fragmentation widely accepted in Central and Western Europe, is not commonly used in Russia. Most of the land area is covered with dense forests. Low-density forests are located:
· Along the southern border of the forest zone (going from forest zone to steppe zone);
· Along the northern border of the forest zone (going from forest zone to tundra zone);
· In the areas of the developed agriculture and farming;
· At sparsely wooded lands (southern part of the European-Urals) (Fig. 18. Extent of Forest Fund Areas by Forest Zones and Sub Zones).
Forest land percentage is determined by correlation between the land area covered with forest vegetation and the total area of a concrete region (Table 8). It is the most frequently used index to demonstrate forest fragmentation (Figure 19. Forest Land Percentage, %).
The most complete information on forest fragmentation is found at the locally obtained data of the State Forest Account. This information is represented at the management maps and plans of each forest management unit.
In Russia the inventory of composition of flora and fauna species is far from being completed. Thus, for some taxonomic groups of living organisms it is hard to determine the number of forest dependent species.
Vascular plants. There are about 11 400 species of vascular plants of 1488 genus’s and of 197 families currently registered in Russia. According to preliminary estimates, there are only 30% of vascular plants (about 3.5 thous. of species) related to the forest ecosystems.
Bryophytes. All three classes of bryophytes represent the bryoflora of the Russian Federation: Anthocerae, Hepaticae, and Bryales. The amount of bryophytes totals up to 1370 species and 1000 of them are represented by Bryales. The majority of bryophytes are considered as important components of boreal forest ecosystems.
Algae. There are over 9000 species of seaweeds, sweet waterweeds, and soil algae registered in the territory of the Russian Federation. Some of them are permanent inhabitants of forest soils and epiphytes, settling on the tree trunks.
Lichens. There are about 3000 species of lichens found in Russia. Similarly to aquatic plants and bryophytes, many lichens represent tree epiphytes as well as constitute a part of ground vegetation in boreal forest ecosystems.
Fungus. Fungus is a part of nature, representing one of its key components. Funguses demonstrate high levels of diversity and are present in almost all terrestrial ecosystems.
Slime moulds (Myxomycetes) and mushrooms (Macromycetes) are considered to be the major forest dependent species. Slime moulds are a least studied fungus group. There were about 211 species of 10 families discovered in Russia, which makes about 30% of the world mycobiota.
Mushrooms is a large (over 3 thous. species) and diverse in terms of biology and taxonomy fungus group with most of edible mushrooms and mycorhiza-forming forms included. Institute of Botany of the Russian Academy of Science came up with a list of 241 rare mushroom species and 103 species that need to be protected.
Individual groups of vertebrates are studied relatively precisely. The diversity of invertebrate species (insects in particular) is weakly researched. There are taxonomy reviews missing on the main groups of land insects.
Vertebrates. There are about 1300 species of vertebrates that belong to 7 different classes found in Russia. Mammals are the best-studied group. There are almost 320 species of mammals registered, 90 of which are associated with forest ecosystems. Bird fauna (732 species) is thoroughly investigated as well. The overwhelming majority of birds (515 species) are nesting birds and 27 of them are nesting within the Russian Federation. The largest in number are the following orders: Passeriformes, Charadriiformes, and Anseriformes. There are about 9% of bird species included in the Red Data Book (Extinct and Endangered Species of the Russian Federation). There are no reliable data on the number of forest dependent species. However, almost 70% of birds in Russia proliferate within the forest zone. Due to the severe climatic conditions of the vast territory of the Russian Federation, the fauna of reptiles and amphibians of Russia is not numerous (75 and 27 species respectively). Forest dependent species are not found so far.
Invertebrates. Presently, there is only approximate information available on the number of invertebrate species in the fauna of the Russian Federation. The preliminary estimates show about 130-150 thousand species, which make up 10% of the global diversity. Insects constitute the basis of the fauna (97%). The following taxonomic groups of invertebrates are most frequently associated with a forest ecosystem:
· Protozoa (about 6500 species);
· Annelides (about 1000 species);
· Insects (about 100 thous. species);
· Arachnida class (about 10 thous. species).
Please, see Attachment for the number of the most studied groups of plants and animals at nature reserves and national parks.
In the last few decades certain species of flora and fauna have become extinct whereas some of them are still endangered (the areas of distribution are reducing, the numbers are decreasing). The Red Data Book contains the aggregated information on the state and conditions of the rare and endangered species (sub-species, populations) of wild plants and animals as well as the number of protection measures. Every specie (or sub-specie) listed in the Red Data Book is referred to a certain category of the Red Data Book of IUCN and other national Red Lists of Threatened Species. As for the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation, the following categories are accepted:
· 0 (Ex) – apparently extinct species (subspecies);
· 1 (E) – endangered species (sub-species) are hard to preserve if the factors, contributing to the their decrease of population are to continue. Taxons, which population has reduced to critical levels and also which areas of distribution have dramatically reduced, belong to the endangered species category;
· 2 (V) – sensitive and vulnerable species (subspecies) include taxons that are likely to be moved to the above-mentioned category of endangered species if the factors, contributing to the decrease in their population are to continue. This category also includes taxons which population went down due to their excessive usage, considerable disturbance of habitats and other changes in the environment;
· 3 (R) – rare species (sub-species). This category includes taxons represented by small populations that are not endangered, vulnerable, sensitive or extinct, but yet, running risks to be in this category. Usually, these taxons are bound to a very limited territory or have narrow ecological amplitude, or else – are scattered over the vast territories;
· 4 (I) – species or sub-species of uncertain status. Most likely, they belong to one of the above-mentioned categories, but the information about them is not provided.
In total there 440 of angiosperms species, 11 of Gymnospermae species, and 10 fern plants included in the Red Data Book of Extinct and Endangered Species of the Russian Federation (Plants, 1988). It is estimated that about 2-3 thousand species are endangered at a greater or lesser degree. The Red Data Book includes over 50% of vascular plants, 36% of bryophytes, 94% of fungi and 86% of lichens represented at the state nature reserves (1998) (Sokolov et al., 1997). Forest dependent plants are a considerable part (over 40%) of the total amount of species, included in the Red Data Book (Table 9). Mainly, it goes for Gymnospermae, fungi, and lichen that are closely related to the forest ecosystems.
According to the Red Data Book (1985), the amount of endangered vertebrate species is 197. The new edition of the Red Data Book (2000) showed 283 endangered species (subspecies), thus demonstrating an unfavorable pattern of decrease of fauna species. Presently, at the time of economic transition and structural changes there is a higher risk to loose such a valuable biodiversity. In 1985 there were 49 species of rare and endangered invertebrates, which constitute 0.033% of the total amount of species included in the Red Data Book. In the new addition of the Red Data Book (2000), the number went up to 155 animals. About 45% of animals included in the Red Data Book are closely related to forest ecosystems (Table 10).
The reduction of the areas of distribution of rare species is directly linked to anthropogenic activity. The major damage is caused by:
· Reducing forested area for farmlands;
· Transformation of the flood plains to hayfields and grazing lands;
· Fens and bogs drainage;
· Forest fires over the vast territories;
· Chemical protection against pests and diseases;
· Medicinal plants collection;
· Wild plants collection, etc.
Anthropogenic pressure on the forest landscapes has lead to the reduction of the considerable part of forest dependent populations. In some cases, such forestry measures like sanitary harvesting and cleaning of dead wood result in a loss of a whole group of living organisms, vitally dependent on the decaying deadfall.
As for big mammals, they suffer greatly from poaching. In order to protect this group of animals it is important to reinforce campaigns against poaching and to control the observance of the bans on harvesting. Special attention has to be paid to the protection of key habitats of birds and animals.
The majority of rare species of limited areas of distribution are living in broadleaved, broadleaved – coniferous, and coniferous forests in the Caucasus, in southern Siberia, and the Far East. The majority of rare species are concentrated in the zone of broadleaved forests of the European part of Russia and in the Urals.
The data presented in this section is preliminary and is still to be supplied with additional information and has to be verified.
Broadleaved forests, Siberian pine-broadleaved forests as well as spruce–fir forests of the Primorsky kray and Sakhalin play a key role in preserving populations of many rare species. A number of rare mammals inhabit only remote areas of difficult access and thus, are found on the territories of nature reserves. These rare mammals include:
· Amur tiger (Pantera tigris altaica);
· East Siberian leopard (Pantera pardus orientalis);
· Amur forest cat (Felis euptilura);
· Red wolf (Cuon alpinus);
· Himalayan bear (Ursus thibetanus);
· Ussur spotted deer (Cervus nippon hortulorum);
· Amur goral (Nemorhaedus caudatus);
· Sakhalin musk deer (Moschus moschiferus sachalinensis);
· Giant shrew (Sorex mirabilis).
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has launched specific projects to preserve tiger and leopard. More than 11 bird species and 7 species of insects belong to a number of forest dependent organisms with limited areas of distribution.
There are 21 species of trees and shrubs of limited areas of distribution:
· Calopanax (Kalopanax septemlobus);
· Birch (Betula schmidtii);
· Hop hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia);
· Oak (Quercus dentate);
· Apricot (Armeniaca mandshurica);
· Pearl bush (Exochorda serratifolia);
· Chinese prinsepia (Princepia sinensis);
· Nut (Juglans ailanthifolia);
· Magnolia (Magnolia obovata);
· Korean larch (Larix olgensis);
· Japanese red pine (Pinus densiflora);
· Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidate);
· Needle juniper (Juniperus rigida);
· Microbiota (Microbiota deussata);
· Tea-plant (Oplopanax elatus);
· Aralia (Aralia continentalis, Aralia cordata);
· Hazel (Corylis colurna);
· Rododendron (Rhododendron faurieri, Rhododendron schlippenbachii);
· Shrubby lespedeza (Lespedeza cyrtobotrya).
The Red Data Book includes about 18 species of vascular grass like plants of areas of distribution found in the Far East.
Mountain Forests of the Caucasus
Protected and rare mammal species occurring in mountainous forests include:
· Bison (Bos bonasus),
· Wild goat (Carpa aegagrus,)
· Giant noctule (Nyctalus lasiopterus.)
Following are the rare bird species registered in Russia:
· Short-toed eagle (Circaetus gallicus);
· Caucasian blackcock (Lyrurus mlokosiewiczi);
· Nuthatch (Sitta krueperi);
· Short-toed tree creeper (Certhia brachydacyla).
Caucasian viper (Vipera kaznakowi) and muddiver (Pelodytes caucasius) represent rare and protected reptile species of the Caucasus.
As for the insects, Caucasian ground beetle (Carabus caucasicus), longhorn beetles (Rhesus serricollis), and mnemozins (Parnassius mnemosyne) are the first ones to be protected.
Forest ecosystems of the Caucasus play a vital role in maintaining 14 species of vascular grass like plants as well as the following populations of rare tree species and shrubs:
· Pitsunda pine (Pinus brutia subsp. pityusa);
· Common yew (Taxus baccata);
· Greek juniper (Juniperous excelsa);
· Radde birch (Betula raddeana);
· Date-plum persimmon (Dyospyros lotus);
· Fig tree (Ficus carica);
· Wing nut (Pterocarya pterocarpa);
· Colchida box (Buxus colchica);
· Etruscum honeysuckle (Lonicera etrusca);
· Dwarf spindle-tree (Euonymus nana).
Bison, short-toed eagle, golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), giant noctule, voskovik-otshel’nik (Osmoderma eremita), mnemozina are found in the mixed and broadleaved forests of the European part of Russia. Russian desman (Desmana mosschata) occur in the forests of the flooded lands of the European part of Russia (Oksky nature reserve), while its number in the natural area of distribution (rivers: Dnepr, Volga, Don and Ural) is drastically decreasing.
To protect bison population there have been established specific nurseries in Prioksko-Terrasny and Oksky nature reserves. The offspring is transported to the other parts of Russia, where the bison population requires restoration.
Some predator bird species are nestling in the forest steppe zone. These are:
· Evropeiskii tjuvik (Accipiter brevipes);
· Harmel (Aquila heliaca);
· Saker falcon (Falco cherrug).
As for the tree species, Cretaceous pine (Pinus sylvestris var.cretacea) has quite a limited area of distribution and is found in the forest steppe zone. Such vascular plants as umbrageous sedge (Carex umbrosa subsp.umbrosa), blue pea (Lathyrus venetus), Russian fritillary (Fritillaria ruthenica), narrow helleborine, red helleborine (Cephalantera longifolia, C.rubra), Litvinov pea (Lathyrus litvinovii) are widely presented in the forests of the European part of Russia.
In the forested flooded lands of the northern Urals and in the west of Siberia (along the Enisey river) west Siberian beaver (Castor fiber pohlei) occur in a very limited area of distribution.
The forests of southern Siberia play a vital role in preserving the following species of rare and endangered populations of animals such as:
· Tuva beaver (Castor fiber tuvinicus);
· Dagan fritillary (Fritillaria dagana);
· Harmel (Aquila heliaca);
· Saker falcon (Falco cherrug);
As for the plants, Siberian dog’s tooth (Erythronium sibiricum) is the one to be preserved in this area.
The criteria and the related indicators reveal forest policy of the Russian Federation and compliance with the principles of biodiversity conservation and sustainable forest management.
The forests of Russia play a vital role in the process of biodiversity conservation of temperate and boreal forests of Eurasia in ecosystem, species, and genetic levels.
The ecosystem diversity maintenance is provided by long-term preservation of land area covered with forest vegetation. Species composition of Russian forests is rich and diverse. Coniferous (native) forest forming species occupy the largest portion of the land area, covered with forest vegetation (over 70%). Soft leaved (secondary) forests occupy about 16% of the land area covered with the forest vegetation. The unbalanced age structure is characteristic for the Russian forests, where prevailing mature and overmature forests are the most ecologically valuable.
Nature protected areas are considered to be the key components in the process of biodiversity conservation. Forest area of nature reserves is growing, demonstrating a good and stable trend. They currently constitute 7% of the land area covered with forest vegetation. The following categories: forests of the special protective value; forests of nature reserves, and Group I forests constitute 23% of the total forest area of Russia.
Low level of fragmentation is characteristic for the most areas of coniferous and mixed forests. It is a favorable factor contributing to the preservation of the various forest dependent species.
All the rare and endangered species are registered in the Russian Federation. All of them are included in the Red Data Book. Preservation of about 40% of animal and plant species included in the Red Data Book, involves forest ecosystems.
Thus, monitoring biodiversity conservation involves all the groups and indicators and is conducted at a high level.
Forest is a source of timber and of the variety of other products derived form it. Not a single economy is able to develop in a sustainable way without the use of forest products. At the same time, sustainable forest development cannot be practiced without spatially organized forestry and ecologically sound and balanced harvesting approaches. It is utterly important to maintain productivity of the forest ecosystem in order to ensure the effective carbon sequestration, which is vital for keeping atmospheric gas composition stable.
Nowadays, timber harvesting is the main forest use in Russia. The so-called commercial forests are designated to meet the needs of timber for commercial purposes only. Forest management and planning operations for commercial forests have been finalized taking into account their geographic characteristics as well as their economic accessibility for the upcoming 10 years (Table 11).
More than half of Russian forests grow in permafrost areas of Siberia and the Far East, thus demonstrating low productivity rates at these regions (the average index of a forest site is IV). Only 54% of the total growing stock is of commercial interest. Its major part, which is located in the European east and also along the Transsiberian railroad, has been considerably exhausted during the past century (Fig. 20. Mean Growing Stock, m3/ha). Table 12 presents the development of growing stock on forest land available for timber production.
Until the mid 1970s the area of felling sites was considerably larger than reforestation volumes. Unfortunately, in the areas of intensive forest exploitation the principle of sustainability and unexhaustive forest management has never been followed. Vast coniferous stands were harvested without performing any reforestation. According to Rosgiproles data, only in the year of 1989 the areas of forest regeneration started to exceed the areas of felling sites. Therefore, the decrease of planting volumes that occurred in early 1990s didn’t have much effect on the increase of the areas of forest plantations. Since then the share of forest plantations has been growing steadily. The development of area and volume indices of forest plantations is presented in the Table 13 and at the Fig. 21 (The Percentage of Forest Plantations in the Total Land Area Covered with Forest Vegetation).
Naturally growing species are usually used in forest plantations. The area of exotic species is insignificant, constituting about 1-2% of the total area of forest plantations.
Scientifically grounded Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) defines reasonable volumes of final fellings in mature and overmature stands. At present, AAC is over 500 mill. m3, including 300 mill. m3 of the coniferous species. Despite the fact that there is a pattern of increasing harvesting volumes, only 20% of AAC has been actually harvested (Table 14).
Forest abundant areas of Siberia and the Far East are underharvested simply because giant logging and wood processing enterprises of the Soviet era turned out to be unclaimed due to the undeveloped markets. The European part of Russia provides more optimistic picture: about 60 – 90 % of the AAC has been harvested here (Severny, Severo-Zapadny, Tsentral’ny, and Volgo-Vjatsky economic regions) (Fig. 22. The Share of Actual Harvest of the Mean Increase of the Standing Volume, %).
Forest is a source of numerous species of medicinal plants, variety of foodstuffs, and technical raw materials. These products are collected for the local needs and are also exported to other regions. According to the experts, the annual sales of drugs derived from medicinal plants is estimated to be about 10 bill. USD. The ecosystems of forest bogs and marshes are of special value as they combine several resources: biological, soil, organic, and mineral. Russian forest ecosystems are unique suppliers of wild plants and berries, mushrooms and nuts, as well as valuable species of medicinal plants and technical raw materials (Table 15, Table 16) Key Indices of Foodstuff Resources of the Forest Fund Area (as of 1999):
Siberian Pine nuts:
The area of nut producing forests, thous.ha 9553
Siberian pine forests included, thous.ha 6644
Mean biological resources, thous.tones 1071
Dwarf Siberian Pine nuts:
The area of middle aged, maturing,
mature and overmature stands, thous.ha 36014
Average yield, kg/ha 70
Biological resources, thous.tonnes 2521
The area of maturing, mature and
overmature stands, thous.ha 40766
Biological resources, thous.tonnes 875509
Annual possible extraction, thous.tonnes 8755
Honey production of lime stands:
The area of maturing, mature and
overmature stands, thous.ha 2781
Average possible volume
of honey production, thous.ha 1451
Table 17 shows the number of the most valuable game species and hunting volumes during the period of 1998–2000. State forest protection service provides the protection of animals and their habitats. Every forest management unit conducts a number of activities aimed at habitat improvement and site restoration.
Preservation and maintenance of forest productivity is an important and strategic task of the state forest service, which is controlled by the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia. Regular monitoring of the state of forest resources and sustainable forest management are important for the successful execution of this task.
Timber harvesting is going to stay a key component of the forest use. At present, forested area available for forest exploitation takes up to 46% of the total land area covered with forest vegetation. The remaining area is either located in hardly accessible areas or plays protective functions in the regions of high population density. Forests, inaccessible for commercial exploitation play important ecological and nature-protective role.
Unfortunately, relatively low levels of the forest resource usage are characteristic for Russia. Only 22% (145 mill. m3) of the Annual Allowable Cut 500 (mill. m3) is being currently harvested. Under exploited forests are located in Siberia and in the Far East.
The preservation of forest productivity is possible to achieve by developing a forest use strategy that would combine selective felling and clearcuts. Also, we should refuse to apply destructive and damaging forest harvesting machinery that destroys natural environment.
Reforestation plays an important role in maintaining forest productivity. Traditionally, reforestation activities involve native tree species that are well adapted to the local environment. The percentage of exotic species is very low. During the past years, harvesting volumes were exceeding the volumes of reforestation. Only in the year 2002 reforestation rates grew higher and exceeded annual harvesting volumes. Up to the year 2010, the area of 6.9 mill. ha must be reforested under the federal program “Ecology and Natural Resources of Russia”. Reforestation strategy has to be developed taking into consideration natural reforestation capacity of the Russian forests. Creation of forest plantations is welcomed only when natural regeneration is unable to ensure the required quality of the forests.
Besides the high timber volumes of the Russian forests they are also rich with non-timber forest products. The obtained information shows that harvesting volumes of the forest-based foodstuffs are much lower than the potential capacity of the forests, which ensures their sustainable use. However, the data is incomplete and more information is required on the current state of the non-timber forest values, levels of actual extraction and restoration capacity.
Forest pathology monitoring includes the following activities:
· Forest state inspections;
· Determining the causes of the forest dye off;
· Observation of the damage caused by pests and diseases;
· Observation of the damage caused by other negative factors.
The results of the forest pathology surveys are annually generalized and analyzed by the state forest service and its divisions. Forest pathology monitoring as well as collection and submission of the data follow a set of regulations, rules and orders.
In comparison to the land area covered with forest vegetation the share of forests damaged by natural calamities varies between 0.3 to 1.6% in different years. However, the absolute values of mentioned percentages are considerably big (Table 18).
Pests and diseases represent a serious danger for the Russian forests (Fig. 23. The Development of Pests and Disease Outbreaks and the Volume of Forest Protection Measures, thous. ha, Fig. 24. The Share of Forests Affected by Pests and Diseases Outbreakes, %). In the early 2002 there were vast pest’s and disease outbreaks (over the area of 10.3 mill. ha and 1.1 mill. ha respectively) registered in the territory of Russian Federation.
Total area affected by outbreaks of pests and diseases is considerably larger in European north and in Urals. In the remote areas of Siberia and the Far East the data on these outbreaks is incomplete. Forests of highly populated and industrialized territories of the European-Ural part of Russia are much more susceptible to pests and diseases.
Among pests, the Siberian moth (Dendrolimus sibiricus) is the major threat for the forests as it is precipitately growing in numbers throughout its area of distribution. Nun moth and pine sawfly are widely spread throughout the territory of the Forest Fund. There is an intensive spread of bark beetles in the area already weakened by industrial emissions (European – Ural part of Russia). The maximum density of the outbreaks monitored during the last three years is registered in:
· Volgogradskaja oblast (364.9 thous. ha);
· Saratovskaja oblast (285. 5 thous.ha);
· Rostovskaja oblast (201.1 thous. ha);
· The republic of Kalmykia (188.4 thous. ha).
High density of outbreaks occurring during the past years is characteristic for the Central part of Russia:
· Kaluzhskaja oblast (81.8 ha);
· Orlovskaja oblast (58.0 ha);
· Brjanskaja oblast (48.6 ha);
· Moskovskaja oblast (43.1 ha);
· Tambovskaja oblast (33.0 ha);
· Buzuluksky pine forest (40.1 ha).
As for the forest fires, the areas burned in the recent years vary from 0.02% to 0.3% of the land area covered with forests. Anthropogenic factor, which constitutes almost 88% of all the inflammations, remains the major cause for forest fires. In the European part of the Russian Federation almost 100% of forest fires occur because of harmful human activity. In the Urals, Siberia and in the Far East lightning appears to be the main cause for forest fires. Flammability dynamics of the Russian forests is discussed in details in the 1st part of the book.
Hydrometeorological Service of Russia provides complex network to monitor conditions of the Russian forests. Currently there are thirty-five stations responsible for monitoring and control of the Russian forests. These stations are located near the large industrial enterprises. They are designed to monitor vast territories with serious forest damage. These specially designed stations infrequently inspect certain sites of special value that belong to nature monuments and biosphere reserves.
Analytical survey of the largest industrial enterprises, data from the emission zones as well as literature studies have shown that almost 1.3 mill.ha of forest ecosystems suffer from the emissions including:
· The zone of absolute damage – irreversibly destroyed forest ecosystems that could occupy the area of 26 – 65 thous.ha (2-5% of the forested area);
· The zone of heavy damage, which may occupy the area of 130 – 195 thous.ha (10-15%);
· The zone of moderate damage, which may cover the area of 390 – 520 thous.ha (30-40%);
· The zone of weak damage, which may cover the area of 520 – 650 thous.ha (40-50%) (Karaban, Gitarsky, 2001).
Forest regeneration in the zones of heavy and absolute damage is impossible without reducing waste disposal and without performing additional forestry measures.
According to different experts, total area of polluted forests varies from 0.9 mill. ha to 5 mill. ha. Table 19 presents the total area of forests perished due to the direct emissions of industrial enterprises.
In the Russian Federation there is no systematic analysis of biological components of the forest ecosystems that is performed at the federal or regional levels. Therefore, there is no reliable information on this particular indicator. Information in the Table 20 shows the preliminary data about areas with fundamentally disturbed ecological processes as well as areas with damaged forest vegetation.
Up to the year 1989, forests burned in the fires were never registered in the state accounts on perished stands. Since forest fire is a major reason of the forest devastation, the number of totally perished forests since 1989 has grown considerably. Annual statistics showed that the forest area loss in 1989 had reached about 334 thous. ha. Destruction of forests by fire has grown considerably – from 63.6% in1992 to 91.1% in 2000. The actual value of forest fires as a reason of the forest die off has grown considerably: from 63.6% in 1992 to 91.1% in 2000. The scale of the area burned fluctuates greatly from year to year.
According to sanitary and forest pathology review of the Russian forests, the area of died off stands in the year 2000 was 2.3 times higher than its annual average value. However, in 2001 the same area occupied 327 thous.ha, which is about the annual average value. Usually, the cyclic pattern of forest devastation can be explained by the climatic factors, contributing to both: forest flammability and mass outbreaks of pests and diseases.
The area of forests, perished due to the combination of human and biological factors, annually constitutes about 342.8 thous.ha. This number greatly fluctuates (between 120 thous.ha to 650 thous.ha).
Maintaining the acceptable sanitary conditions of forest ecosystems is the key task of the State Forest Service (which is supervised by the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia, MNR). MNR annually analyze forest pathology and generalize sanitary data. Forest fires are one of the major reasons for the forest damage, deterioration, and, finally, die off. Every year between 0.4 thous, ha and 250 thous.ha of the forest area are being destroyed by fires, which constitute from 0.0001% to 0.03% of the forested area respectively. To secure fire safety, the Russian government passed a plan of urgent measures to prevent forest fires and to mitigate the consequences of forest and peat ignitions. Along with the traditional methods, remote sensing is another method widely used to spot the fires during the fire season. Following are the fire fighting divisions employed to suppress the fires:
· Ground units and subdivisions;
· Forest Fire Suppression Aviation brigades;
· Ministry of Emergency of the Russian Federation;
· Ministry of Defense.
A set of preventive measures, which were designed to strengthen the technical base of forest fighting brigades allow the perfection and further development of fire fighting system and preservation of the Russian forest resources.
It is also important to mention, that forest fires play a serious role in the environmental evolution, defining the structure and development of the taiga forests. Thus, it is important to restructure the existing forest fire protection service transforming it into the forest fire management system that would not only provide effective fire suppression, but would also apply prescribed burning as an alternative way to resolve problems and address certain issues (the reduction of forest debris, huge forest fires prevention, stimulation of natural regeneration).
Forest protection from pests and diseases is based on the data provided by monitoring activities on sanitary conditions of the forests as well as on forest pathology surveys. To ensure timely identification of the outbreaks, forest pathology surveys are conducted annually over the area of 10 mill. ha. During the past few years the forest state has worsened as the areas of pests and diseases outbreaks has grown and expanded. Forested area seized by outbreaks of pests and diseases fluctuates from year to year (from 0.2% to 1.4% of the total forested area). At the same time the area of forests, perished from pests and diseases is relatively small and fluctuates from 0.0005 to 0.003% of the total forested area. Biological and chemical suppressants are widely used as either a ground or aerial method to control the outbreaks. Usually, the area, where fire-pestsdiseases extermination measures are conducted is much smaller than the area of an outbreak itself.
It is important to mention that the dynamics of the perished forested areas is preconditioned by the climatic factors, contributing to both: forest flammability and mass outbreaks of pests and diseases.
Forest damage resulting from industrial pollution is of local character. At the present time, the area of perished stands (resulting from the industrial pollution) varies between 0.02% and 0.03% of the total forested area). A considerable decrease of harmful emissions results in obvious improvements of the forest state in the industrial zones.
Systematic soil and water monitoring separately for forested and non-forest areas are not conducted in Russia. Selected information, analysis and certain generalizations on the state of water resources country- and region- wise are annually presented in the national report “On the State of Natural Environment of the Russian Federation”.
Water and wind erosion, mostly occurring at farmlands and agricultural lands that particularly lack forest vegetation, are the most damaging to soils. About 129 mill. ha of agricultural lands in Russia represent areas highly susceptible to water and wind erosion. Almost 54.1 mill. ha of them are already eroded. These areas mostly belong to agricultural lands (plough lands and grazing lands) of steppe zone, semideserts and mountainous sites. The major task of the forest management units, located in the areas of eroded lands and sparsely forested areas, is to create forest protective stands at plough lands and mountainous grazing sites. Protective afforestation of eroded lands is needed at the area of 14 mill. ha. In 2001 about 3.2 mill. ha (23%) was planted in Russia. The greatest planting areas are located in Juzhny, Privolzhsky and Tsentral’ny federal districts. Existing areas of protective forests positively influence over 30 mill. ha of neighboring lands offering protection against erosion. Major factors restraining protective afforestation deal with weak financing and lack of due understanding and motivation to practice this measure. During the past 40 years, the highest volumes of protective afforestation were registered in the period between 1966–1975. A steady decline started in 1975 and it continues presently. In the year 2001 the volume of protective afforestation was rather low – only 18.1 thous. ha.
There is no reliable data about the areas subjected to heavy soil erosion. According to the expert reports, these lands are highly limited because forest ecosystems provide necessary soil and water protection. Ravine forests are included into the Group I forests (“protective forests“ according the Russian Forest Fund classification). These forests provide protection against erosion. Special forest management regime is characteristic for these stands. Final fellings are not allowed. In 2001 the total area of ravine forests is 13.4 mill. ha.
All the forests carry out protective functions. However, the specially designated forests, which belong to the Group I forests, practice these functions at the best. The biggest area under the Group I forests is occupied by:
· Restricted areas protecting breeding grounds of the most valuable fish species;
· Pre tundra forests;
· Restricted areas along the water bodies;
· Green belt forests;
· Ravine forests.
Group I forests constitute the major part of the Forest Fund both: in the densely populated regions like Juzhny, Privolzhsky, Tsentral’ny federal districts as well as in sparsely populated areas of Severny, Ural’sky, and Sibirsky federal districts (Fig. 25. The Share of Group I Forests in the Total Forest Area of Russia).
Forest area designated for protective functions is steadily increasing and presently constitutes 19% of the total forest area (Fig. 26. Area Development of Group I Forests Carrying Out Protective Functions).
To represent water bodies within the Forest Fund area, a share of surface water bodies (rivers and lakes) of the total Forest Fund area was taken as a criterion. The data presented in the Table 21 was obtained from the State Forest Account (1998). Relatively high percent of water bodies is observed in Severo-Zapadny (2.83%) and Ural’sky (3.89%) federal districts. Low percent of water bodies is registered in Tsentral’ny (0.38%) and Privolzhsky (0.42%) federal districts. The highest values are reached in lake-abundant areas (over 5% of the area) (Murmanskaja oblast’, Republic of Karelia, Yamalo-Nenetsky autonomous district).
Insignificant variability of water bodies’ values throughout the regions is caused by different natural conditions rather than by anthropogenic factor. There were no significant changes within the boundaries of the federal districts in the last 20 years (1978–1998). Certain alterations might have occurred due to land re-distribution among the landowners.
Preservation of soil and water resources as well as strengthening their protective functions are the central elements of the sustainable forest management. During the past 20 years there is a gradual increase of the Group I forests area. This evidence shows that the protection and management of the protective forests has significantly developed and improved. Agricultural lands of sparsely forested areas are heavily eroded. In these regions protective forests are especially important since they provide soil and water protective functions. Unfortunately, in the past decades the area of protective afforestation has significantly decreased.
Existing information on chemical, physical and biological characteristics of forest soils and waters located at the forest territories is far from being complete. Additional surveys are required to draw reliable conclusions.
One of the globally recognized problems is the climate change caused by various anthropogenic factors. This results from escalation of the greenhouse effect. Forests play a key role in carbon sequestration and thus, maintain relatively stable atmospheric gas content. Russian forests, the area of which constitutes one fifth of the total world forests, represent a huge carbon pool in a form of a biomass of living organisms, living residues of various levels of decay, humus components and peat. Balanced and efficient use of the Forest Fund areas as well as the observance of the sustainable forest management is the issues of a national priority. These issues are particularly highlighted in the Forest Code of the Russian Federation.
Carbon cycle within a forest ecosystem is a balance between the absorption of atmospheric carbon (CO2) by the aboveground vegetation and its release during decomposition of the dead organic matter, concentrated at a ground surface and in the soil. This difference (netto ecosystem productivity) defines quantative changes of carbon pool within ecosystem and identifies its role in the biosphere.
Systematic, site-based, and stationary information is available on biomass supply based on structural elements of plant vegetation and litter. There is much less information available on root stocks, current increment of aboveground and under ground biomass, annual trees’ die off, as well as leaf and needle die off. Very few data exists on the quantative assessments of degradation rates of the dead organic matter in the soil and on the surface. A complete carbon cycle, assimilated during the photosynthesis process, could be traced based on this.
According to VNIILM data, there are 104 bill. tones of organic matter (excluding organic matter of the soils) accumulated within Forest Fund area and outside of it. (total area – 1178554.4 thous. ha). Over 51 bill. tones of carbon, including 34 bill.tones of phytomass carbon and 17 bill. tones of dead organic mass carbon (deadwood, snags, logs, and litter) are deposited there. About 182 bill. tones of carbon is stored in forest (Table 22). Since 1983 there is a steady reduction of the carbon pool. Most likely, it is related to the decrease of mature and overmature stands and to an overall decline of productive forests. The natural change of species composition started in early 1960-es is slowly progressing to this day.
The ecosystem netto production index was calculated following FAO guidelines and being based on the State Forest Account data. Average index of growing stock increment was taken as a basis and a conversion index was used based on the literature sources. Presently, the annual index of ecosystem netto production of the Russian forests is 1200 mill. tones or 600 mill. tones of carbon per year (Table 23).
Carbon release resulting from felling operations, forest fires, outbreaks of pests and diseases, waste and fuelwood incineration is about 110 mill. tones per year. Thus, in Russia pure annual carbon deposition into the biomass and into the living organic matter (excluding humus) is about 490 mill. tones of carbon (600 mill. tones – 110 mill. tones) (Figure 27. Carbon Balance in Forest Ecosystems Throughout Russia, mill. tones of carbon per year).
It is impossible to assess the contribution of forest products to the global carbon budget since there is no reliable data not only about the size of forest processing and production, but also about the estimates of the life expectancy for forest products. To make preliminary calculations of carbon balance, the total annual amount of harvested and logged timber (30 mill. tones of carbon) can be considered as CCO 2 release since about the same volume of timber products is burned down or naturally decomposed by microorganisms.
It was estimated that the total amount of carbon stored in the organic matter of the forest ecosystems in Russia is about 233 bill. tones which includes 34 bill.tones deposited in phytomass, 17 bill. tones in the dead organic mass (deadwood, snags, logs, and litter), and 182 bill. tones is concentrated in humus. The largest carbon pool is in the organic matter of the soils of boreal forests, located in the northern parts of Russia, where decomposition rate is slowed down. This data repeatedly confirm the vital role of Russian forests in the global carbon balance.
There is a steady pattern of netto ecosystem productivity registered in Russia and presently, it is about 600 mill. tones of carbon per year. In the forests of Russia, total carbon release has dropped down from 130 to 110 mill. tones of carbon per year. Thus, carbon balance is positive and it is about 500 mill. tones per year. In 1990, annual anthropogenic release of carbon was 650 mill.tones while annual global emission of C-CO2 constitutes 6100 mill. tones (according to MGEIK). Thus, the share of Russian forests in global carbon release is 11%. Presently, due to the considerable decline of industrial production, annual carbon release has not been higher than 500 mill. tones per year. Thus, Russian forests (excluding channeling of carbon to marsh, tundra and grasslands ecosystems) completely compensate industrial emission of C-CO2 .
According to the Forest Code of the Russian Federation (Article 80, 1997), the following types of forest use can be practiced:
· Forest harvesting;
· Turpentine collection;
· By-products collection (stumps, birch bark, coniferous twigs, etc);
· Use of forests for secondary values (hay, grazing, bee-keeping, berries, mushrooms, nuts, medicinal plants, moss, lichen);
· Use of forests for hunting;
· Use of forests for science and research;
· Use of forests for aesthetic values, tourism and recreation.
Maintenance and enhancement of long-term multiple forest usages is the principal task of forest officers and managers. Major requirements for the use of forest recourses are defined in the Article 79 of the Forest Code of the Russian Federation.
Forest industry of the Russian Federation is represented by 21 thousand enterprises. About three thousand of them are of giant and medium size. About 95% of them are joint stock companies with over 1.5 mill. employees.
For the past several years, forest industry has been undergoing a deep economic crisis. Forest resources are underutilized and the processing efficiency is low. In Russia as a whole, the volumes of final fellings decreased three times during the last several years. In 2001 only 4.4% of the total industrial production of Russia felt within forest industry, wood processing industry, pulp and paper industry. The share of forestry exports, in the total volume of Russian exports, constitutes only 4.2%.
However, Russia is ranked second among roundwood exporters, thus holding one of the central positions in the world. About 21.6% of the total roundwood timber sold at the world market is coming from the Russian Federation. For the most part Russian export consists of unprocessed roundwood timber, which price is three times lower than sawn timber.
In 2002, export of unprocessed roundwood timber grew up 15.4% and constituted 36.6 mill.m3 (1.64 bill.USD), while processed timber export volume grew up 18.9%, constituting 5.22 mill. m3 (865.5 mill.USD).
In the year 2001, the volumed total removals by giant and medium sized enterprises were 87.2 mill. m3 (Fig. 28. The Development of Total Timber Removals by Giant and Medium Enterprises).
The actual wood costs of 1 m3 vary greatly throughout Russia constituting 134 roubles in Juzhny district and 544 roubles in the Far East. In 2001, the average actual wood cost of 1 m3 was 353 roubles, whereas the average market price of 1 m3 of timber was 585 roubles. In 2002, the average market price for a set of final products is provided below:
Product Price, roubles
Roundwood timber (for sawntimber production), m3 646.01
Sawntimber, m3 1324.49
A set for wooden boxes production, m3 1468.28
Scaleboard, m3 6653.25
Roundwood timber (for pulpwood production), m3 367.01
Chipboard, m3 2513.11
Pulpchips (for pulpwood production), m3 289.06
Commercial cellulose, tones 9656.85
Paper, tones 12278.33
Board, tones 8935.29
Carrier board, tones 8453.99
A considerable decline of forestry production was registered starting in 1990 (Table 24). However, during the past five years there has been a tendency for the production growth in the areas of cellulose, paper, board, chipboard, fiberboard production. The scaleboard production volumes have exceeded the production levels of 1990.
There is a tight connection between secured financial backing of forestry and forest industries. Without interaction between these two branches, it is nearly impossible to practice sustainable forest management and unexhaustive use of forest resources. Both of these approaches (sustainable forest management and unexhaustive use of forest resources) require solving a number of economic and environmental problems, paying extra attention to the local, regional, federal, and global importance of Russian forests.
Wood utilization provides principal incomes of the forestry branch. There are several legal grounds for the use of Forest Fund plots. They include: forest lease, gratuitous use contracts, auction-based documentation, and regional authorities resolutions. Payment schemes and income distribution procedures are determined in the Forest Code of the Russian Federation, in the Budget Code and in the Tax Legislation. Forest use and exploitation generates revenue from two sources: forest taxes or rental charges. Forest tax is collected for any type of forest use. State authorities of the subjects of the Russian Federation determined payment rates, which are based on lease contracts or defined at the auctions. The rates should not be lower than the minimum timber stumpage price, determined by the government of the Russian Federation.
Up to the year 2001, a following scheme of income distribution was defined (the Forest Code of the Russian Federation, Article 106): ·
· 40% of the payments (minimum rates) are channeled to the federal budget; ·
· 60% of the payments are directed to the budgets of the subjects of the Russian Federation.
Forest taxes and rental charges that were over minimum cost of timber rate were channeled to the forest management units than, were added to the budget means and were spent for the forestry needs.
In the year 2002 the scheme was changed. According to the federal law “On the Federal Budget of the Year 2002”, at present, 100% of payments at minimum cost of timber rates are channeled to the budgets of the subjects of the Russian Federation. Revenue from the minimum cost of timber rates, other forest use payments, payments for the transformation of forestlands, and forest fund withdrawal payments go to the federal budget.
The share of minimum cost of timber rate is 71.6% of the total lease payments.
Rental charges (forests, leased for harvesting purposes) constituted 2.67 bill.roubles in the year 2001 and 2.84 bill.roubles in the year 2002 (6.4% growth). About 1.51 bill.roubles was received from the forest auctions (growing timber sale) in 2001 and 1.04 bill.roubles in 2002 (24.5% decrease).
Forest tax for 1 m3 of growing timber was 38.8 roubles in 2001 and 37.9 roubles in 2002 (2.3% decrease). In 2001 the actual rate of a forest tax was 43% higher than the minimum cost of timber rate and in the year 2002 the rate decreased by 31%.
It is worthwhile to mention that the growth of payment rates correspond with the growth of market price for 1 m3 of roundwood. Thus, payment for the growing timber is only 5 – 7% of the price paid for roundwood timber. The share may vary throughout the country from 2% to 25%.
General information on the income from forest use during the period 2000 – 2002 is presented in the Table 25.
The share of the total income from the forest exploitation is 36%, withdrawal and conversion payments are 3%, penalties for forest legislation violations – 1%, extra budget means (realization of the produce of the forest management units) – 35%, other – 25%. The principal income of extra budget entries comes from final fellings (56%), where the price of 1 m3 of merchantable wood is 305 roubles.
Russian Forests contain huge amounts of foodstuffs (mushrooms, berries, nuts), furs, game, medicinal plants and technical raw materials. Economic value of non-timber forest products (particularly northern and eastern forests) is higher than the timber value.
Based on permits and licenses, tenants and other collectors harvest non-timber forest products. According to the Article 70 of the “General Guidelines on Secondary Forest Use” rental charge is determined by the lease contract requirements. Payments for seasonal forest use are paid through stumpage price when permits are issued. For the local population secondary forest use is free of charge.
According to experts, the estimated annual yield of berries (cranberry, cowberry, blueberry) makes up 4 mill.tones, Siberian pine nuts – about 1 mill. tones, and mushrooms – about 2.1 mill.tones. The estimated market value of commercial stock of wild berries amounts to more than 10 bill. USD, while commercial stock of mushrooms is estimated as 5 bill. USD.
Table 26 shows harvesting and production volumes of forest-based foodstuffs. As Russia is developing towards market oriented economy, commercial enterprises become responsible for the collection of non–timber forest products. None of these enterprises report to the Board of Statistics. Therefore, the actual volumes of non-timber forest products are not available. The volumes of non-timber forest products are linked directly to its productivity, which greatly vary from year to year.
Table 27 presents data on non-timber forest products costs income rates (per item sold). Vegetable raw materials cost the most whereas birch syrup has the lowest price. As for the income rates, vegetable raw materials and wild nuts keep the leading position among other forest based products.
Over 60% of the Group I forest area (excluding state natural reserves, national parks, protection zones of parks and reserves, antierosion forests, pre-tundra forests, water supply sanitary zones) is used for recreation and tourism. Group II and Group III forests are also used for these purposes, excluding areas not suitable for recreation and tourism for natural, climatic and environmental reasons (Yamalo-Nenetskii, Evenkiisky, Chukotsky, and Koryaksky autonomous districts and almost half of the Saha Republic). Urban forests are used for various kinds of recreational activities as well. Thus, the total area used for recreation and tourism constitutes 564.3 mill.ha (64% of forest land within and outside the Forest Fund).
Forest land of national parks used for recreation and tourism constitute 39% of the total area of national parks at the federal level. As for regional nature parks, this ratio is about the same. Protected zones of about one third of all nature reserves are also used for recreation and tourism.
A considerable amount of the facilities available for general recreation and tourism are provided in the territory of national parks (Table 28).
Environmental protective belt around Moscow has been chosen as an example, to provide detailed information about the so-called “green belt” surrounding large cities. This particular belt consists of 39 forest parks (total area 162.5 thous.ha including 66.4 thous.ha of forest lands) and has a radius of 10 km from the city boarder (Table 29). According to the year 2000 monitoring, the area of urban forests in Moscow is about 11081 ha. There are 94 urban parks, 700 public gardens, 10 boulevards, and 125 nature monuments located in Moscow.
In Russia areas designed for recreation and tourism are accessible almost all year round. In summer, recreation load in the forests located close to the settlements is much higher due to mass collection of berries and mushrooms, wild plants, medicinal plants and birch syrup. The average period of heavy recreation load on the forests varies from 120 to 150 visitor days depending on the latitude.
Forest financing consists of state investment (709.2 mill.roubles in the year 2000) and operational costs (7650.9 mill.roubles in the year 2000). Thus, the value of operational costs is 11 times higher than state investments for the same activities.
In the past few years there has been a steady increase of extra budget means of financing. As it is shown in the Table 30, in the year 2001 the percentage of extra budget means of financing has been 65.6% of the total forestry expenses.
State financing has been gradually decreasing and in the year 2001 it constituted only 24.2%. (Table 31).
In 2002 financial resources have been distributed as following:
· 32% - had been used to financially support staff and administration of the forest management units;
· 7% - had been used for forest fire suppression;
· 1% - had been used for forest pests and diseased protection;
· 55% - had been used for forest management (forest management unit level).
In 2001 Total expenses, including all sources of financing, constituted 13.8 roubles per one hectar.
In 2001 regional budgets covered only 23% of the necessary amount needed for reforestation. The rest 60% was covered by means of the forest management units.
In 2001 about 102.4 mill.roubles were paid as capital investments from the federal budget in 2001, which was 63% compared to the year 2000.
A sub program titled “Forests” was approved within the federal program “Environment and Nature Resources in Russia for the Period 2002 – 2010” (the resolution N 860 of the government of the Russian Federation dated December 7, 2001). The total value of financial investments within this sub program is 49418.1 mill.roubles (Table 32).
Forestry is a science based and research capacious branch of economy. There are 9 research institutions and one design office that belong to the State Forest Service (managed by MNR). The research institutions are full members of MNR professional network. Along with regional forest management bodies, they are also responsible for further development and promotion of science and research.
Forest research institutions provide sound grounds for each forestry component:
· Forest use and exploitation;
· Forest fire protection;
· Forest protection from pests and diseases;
· Forest mensuration;
· Forest resources account and assessment;
· Forest economics;
· Monitoring, etc
The main functions of forest research institutions include:
· Providing scientific grounds for forest management and decision-making (analysis and forecast of trends and developments, including socio-economic assessments, planning and decision making);
· Adjustments and corrections of normative base and standards according to the amendments made in the Forest Code of the Russian Federation (1997);
· Optimization and modernization of organizational structure and information flows based on computer technologies;
· Improvements of forest field tests and experiments;
· Control, monitoring and technical examination of all the forestry projects (including forestry aspects, silviculture and environmental issues);
· Working out a mechanism to introduce regionally tested research innovations.
Table 33 presents the value of financial support for forest research activities coordinated by MNR Russia.
Direct involvement of the local population in the forest sector including forestry, woodprocessing, and pulp and paper industries had decreased from 3.4% in 1970 to 1.6% in 1998. Since 1999, the employment rates started to grow (Figure 29. The Development of Involvement of Local Population in Forestry (% of average annual number of employed population).
Wage rate is the index, which reflects the well being of a social sphere of any branch of industry. In the year 2000, monthly salary of a ranger was 707 roubles, ranger manager assistants’ salary was 2047 roubles; ranger managers’ salary was 2250 roubles, forest management units directors’ salary constituted 4312 roubles. The average monthly salary of forest management units’ officials in the year 2002 constituted 2650 roubles, which was 75% higher that in 2001. In general, the average salary of the employees in the forest sector has always been lower than the rates paid in the other branches of economy. In 1998 it constituted 58.3% in the all-Russian average salary rate, in 1999 – 63.1%, and in 2000 – 55.6%. The forest sector employees are exposed to the higher danger (Table 34).
In December 2000 a program titled “Labor Protection Program For the Period 2001 – 2005” was passed by the MNR Russia, Ministry of Labor and Social Development and some other related institutions. This program is designed to ensure safety for the people working in forestry as well as specifies a set of measures aimed to decrease a number of industrial injuries.
The Forest Sector plays an essential economic and social role in the development of the Russian Federation. By the domestic gross output value the forest sector takes fifth place and keeps forth place by the export volume. However, being one of the key components of a national forest income, forest resources are not used effectively. This leads to weak financial income flows to the budget, which in return unable the authorities to cover the required costs.
Following are the ways to increase budget income:
· Forest users have to be directly involved in the market economy;
· Forest usage and exploitation costs, reflecting the real price for this resource, have to be fixed;
· Deep timber processing has to be developed.
Also, higher incomes have to be ensured based on the development of secondary forest resources as well as the use of “by products”, use of forests for the purposes of hunting, recreation or tourism.
Russian Forests have a great potential to further develop tourism and recreation activities. The total area available for these developments is over 500 mill.ha. Vast areas of virgin and unexploited forests are of unique scientific and aesthetic value.
Involvement of the local population is one of the key parameters that reflect socio-economic value of forests. Presently, only 1.7% of the annual average number of people, involved in forest sector meaning forestry, wood processing, pulp and paper industries.
In general, employment in forestry has decreased two times in the last 30 years. There are two major reasons for that: low salary rates and the overall economic crisis in the country.
The major principles of forest management are defined in the Forest Code of the Russian Federation (1997), in the Constitution of the Russian Federation (1993), and in the number of other legal documents. Presently, these principles are designed to “provide unexhaustive and sustainable forest use, regeneration, forest protection and conservation of the forests”.
Forest legislation is under the authority of both: the Russian Federation and the subjects of the Russian Federation.
There are over 300 legislative documents regulating forest use, reforestation, protection and conservation. In general, the forest legislation allows performing sustainable forest management and guarantees forest preservation.
The following components are called “objects of the forest relations”:
· The Forest Fund of the Russian Federation;
· Forest Fund sites and the right to use them;
· Forests outside the Forest Fund;
· The sites outside the Forest Fund and the right to use them;
· Trees and shrubs.
The Forest Fund land and the forests outside the forest Fund occupy about 69% of the total land area of the Russian Federation. Almost 96% of the total forested area is managed by MNR Russia. Other ministries and departments manage the rest 4% of the area.
According to the forest legislation, Forest Fund area and the land under the Ministry of Defense are of Federal ownership. It is allowed by the federal law to transfer the Forest Fund sites to the ownership of the subjects of the Russian Federation. Both: civil legislation and the Forest Code of the Russian Federation guarantee the right for free access to the forests for all the citizens of the Russian Federation. Forest Fund sites are allowed to be:
· Gratuitously used;
· Short-term used;
· Granted in concessions.
Individuals and organizations are allowed to practice any of the above-mentioned approaches. The federal law “The Territories of Traditional Nature Use by the Native People of Siberia and the Far East” was passed in the year 2001. The territories of traditional nature use were declared to be protected areas. Such areas are created particularly to maintain traditional nature use with special consideration given to the interests and concerns of the native people, many of which still live in the forests.
During the past few years Russia had undergone some considerable socio-economic changes. The Forest Code of the Russian Federation contains many contradictions and has many unclear legislative notions. Some of the norms are of declarative character, as they are not supported by legal mechanisms for realization. All the above-mentioned reveal the necessity for a new edition of the Forest Code. Above all, the new document needs to take into account all the changes made in Tax legislation, financial legislation, and civil code of the Russian. The new version of the Forest Code will contribute to:
· The effective forest management, forest use and utilization, forest protection and reforestation;
· The more efficient use of the Forest Fund;
· The budget income increase as grounded costs of forest usage will be determined and the payments will be legally secured. In order to secure further development and perfection of the normative and legal base of the Russian forestry, a Center on Legal Research, Handling and Control of the Forest Practices was established in the year 2002.
The major tasks of the Center include:
· Elaboration of the related laws and documentation including concepts, projects, and economic justifications;
· Analysis and generalization of the practiced regulations;
· Submission of the scientifically grounded suggestions on how to improve the situation.
In 2002 there were developed 80 legal documents. Some of them determine harvesting operations and reforestation in the forests that belong to different categories. The central topics for the perfection of the forest legislation include:
· Clear definition of legal status of forests;
· Keeping and supporting state forest ownership;
· Introduction of the market mechanisms in the forest sector.
Forest preservation of and sustainable forest management are the central elements of the national program on environmental safety of Russia. To support ongoing environmental education is a key goal of this approach. The particular importance of environmental education is secured by the Constitution of the Russian Federation and by the Edict of the President “On the National Strategy of the Russian Federation in the Field of Environmental Protection and Sustainable Forest Management” dated 04.02.1994. Currently there are being developed many educational programs, study guides, and schoolbooks on environmental matters and sustainable forest development. Compulsory professional retraining programs as well as qualification rising courses are offered to the forestry specialists. To raise public awareness and for the purpose of information dissemination about the state of environment and about the improvement measures, a Russian Federal Environmental Information Agency has been established in 1994. Presently, over 20 publications are being released in Russia. They discuss current situation in the areas such as economics, forestry planning, organization, and management, forest legislation.
State Forest Service (MNR division) had developed Forestry Development Concept for the period between 2003-2010 in order to define the most prioritized directions of national forest policy development. The Government of the Russian Federation had approved this Concept.
This Concept contains some suggestions on a number of measures to increase forest utilization effectiveness. Stabilized forest activities and production volumes, quality improvements and effectiveness enhancement are predicted for the above-mentioned period. Striving to improve Forest Fund quality, the following activities have been planned until the year 2010:
· To conduct reforestation over the area of 7 mill.ha;
· To bring young stands into the “valuable stands” category over the area of 9.5 mill.ha;
· To build 5.4 km of roads for forestry transportation needs.
Further elaboration of forest legislation and subsequent development of the new edition of the Forest Code of the Russian Federation are stipulated by the.
A coordinating board was established in 2003 in order to build partnerships and promote interactions between the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Forest industries representatives. Thus, the following institutions were invited for cooperation: MNR, Minpromnauka, Minekonomrazvitija as well as representatives of the largest forest logging and processing enterprises, export agencies, and home equipment producing. The coordinating board will consider and try to resolve the following acute topics: unexhaustive and sustainable forest utilization, price indexes, forest operations at the felling sites, and forest fire protection.
Presently, MNR Russia practice General Agreements with administration of the subjects of the Russian Federation. These agreements provide mutual approaches and action plans in the field of forestry such as conducting large economic and organizational field tests.
At present, foresters (“Forestry and Forest Park Management” speciality) are trained in 14 different higher education institutions all over Russia. Forestry faculties were additionally established in ten more higher education institutions.
Specialized MNR higher educational institutions (15 vocational schools, 4 forestry colleges, and 3 technical colleges) offer vocational education in forestry. At these institutions education is focused in four specializations. Every year, approximately three thousand people graduate from these institutions.
Forestry training stations based either on forest districts or forest management units function in some forest settlements. The pupils acquire knowledge of forest, forest management and, also, gain practical forest experience.
There are different forms of continuous education and raising qualification being developed in Russia. For instance, an intensive, three – year program is offered to obtain higher education. This program is designed for those, who have already received special secondary voluntary education. Specialized institutions of continuous education carry out professional skill improvement programs for managers and other experts.
The state forest protection service provides safety to the Forest Fund and monitors the observance of the forest legislation. Here are the following violations revealed by the state forest protection service: illegal harvesting, unauthorized occupation of the Forest Fund lands, damage by sewage, chemical and radioactive substances, uncontrolled industrial and consumers emissions. Reforestation and soil reclamation committed by the mining and construction companies are considered to be the most flagrant violations. The State Forest Service works hard on preventing, nipping and suppressing of the violations; it determines fines and hands out documentation to courts and other law enforcement agencies.
Current forestry reform is aimed at:
· The establishment of reasonable, profitable, cost-effective, and competitive production;
· Providing favorable conditions and extended opportunities for foreign and domestic investors in the forest sector;
· Capital accumulation in the most prioritized areas;
· Development of the forest export;
· Changing the existing structure of the forest export and shifting towards deep timber processing;
· Small business support;
· Intensification of the state control.
One of the central elements of the forestry sector reconstruction, which would lead out of the crisis and direct towards sustainability, is the advanced production development on the basis of wood processing located in the regions of major harvesting.
Presently, forest income alone is unable to cover management and reforestation costs. In general, forestry is a subsidized. Forest income is primarily determined by the payments, collected from forest use; therefore, the formation of these payments and charges has to be of principal importance. The increase of the forest income can be achieved by substituting taxable payments with taxable rental payments for the forest resource. Switching to rental payments will allow us to link the following elements: payment rates, Forest Fund characteristics, exploitation terms, final product price, industrial costs of both: harvesting and wood processing.
If forest legislation is going to be improved, the introduction of rental payments would provide forestry with guaranteed revenues which could be used for reforestation purposes. Rental payments would thus guarantee stable profit that would reimburse timber merchants. Rental payments would provide budgets of different levels with additional incomes.
There are several different ways to change the existing system of payments for the growing stock. In any case, a certain portion has to be allotted to cover regeneration costs, and the total rate should not exceed the forest rent. State fiscal policy determines particular approach to change the existing system of payments for the growing stock.
The introduction of rental approach is based on the following preconditions (to be ensured by the Government of the Russian Federation):
· Forest payment rates have to cover forest regeneration costs;
· Payments for growing stock should be based on rental costs;
· The distribution of payments has to reckon in the replenishment of the state budget and has to take into consideration economic interests of all the parties: forestry itself, forest users, the subjects of the Russian Federation and municipal bodies.
Center of Analysis and Forecast of the Growing Stock Prices was established in 2002 in order to improve the system of forest payments, to increase budget replenishment, and to stimulate market developments. The Center collects and analyzes commercial information on forest use and exploitation. It also predicts economic development based on price and costs development.
The State Forest Fund Account (SFFA) data is a principal source of information important for to measure or describe indicators of the sustainable management. SFFA management is based on the forest inventory and planning data which is updated by the SFFA. Up to the year 1999, the SFFA was carried out every five years. It was crucial to get region based summarized forestry characteristics and to present them by the start of each five-year plan. Presently, taking into account the dynamic character of civil society development and, also, the demand for precise and updated information, the State Forest Fund Account is conducted annually.
Forest monitoring data is an additional source of information and its detailed structure is provided in the 1st part of the book. Both annual reports on statistics published by Goskomstat and forestry periodicals could be very helpful in the assessment of indicators.
At present, basic forest account information is gained from forest inventory performed over the whole territory of the Russian Federation. For more details please, refer to the 1st section of this book.
A set of research institutes coordinated by the Russian Academy of Science and the Ministry of Natural Resources conduct integrated and comprehensive research of the forest ecosystems. These institutions include:
· The Institute of Sylviculture;
· Center on Ecology and Forest Productivity;
· The Institute of Forest and Timber.
For more details please, see “Forest Science” chapter in the 1st part of the book.
Instruction guide for the forest management and planning contains the forecast for the Forest Fund. The development forecast:
· Characterizes the effectiveness of the forest use and forest management activities planned;
· Allows to see the effect of these activities on the quantative and qualitative characteristics of a forest stand;
· Allows the assessment of the sustainability of the Forest Fund use.
The forecast of the Forest Fund development must be carefully planned (felling rotation included) for the prolonged period. It is impossible to design long-term forecasts of stands’ development without the use of modern information technologies including mathematical modeling, GIS, and the system of data base management.
According to the widely accepted program “Introduction of GIS Technologies into the Forest Sector During the Period of 1999-2005”, the GIS system has to be introduced in 68 subjects of the Russian Federation. Introduction of the GIS technologies is planned in 1427 forest management units. It has been decided that the results of forest management and planning operations should be submitted in the electronic format, using GIS technology. Thus, a considerable amount of maps and other information on forest resources will be available for further processing and analysis using modern information technologies.
Currently, an informational complex for the Forest Fund development prognoses is being designed. Two institutions are responsible for its development: VNIILM and Moscow State Forestry University.
A continuous decline of the forest industrial production along with weakening of the state management has revealed several negative tendencies in forest use, reforestation, and protection. Being one of the most important factors in the economic growth of the Russian Federation, forest resource potential as well as its environmental value is utilized ineffectively. Possessing almost a quarter of the world forests, Russia produces only 3% of the global forestry production using only 20% of its Annual Allowable Cut. The National Forest Policy is presently under the revision. Its major goals are to bring forestry into the leading positions, to reconstruct forest sector towards sustainable development, and to improve forest management. Thorough changes in juridical, structural and economic backgrounds of the forest preservation and its sustainable use are envisaged in the ongoing reform.
This particular publication is the first National report of the sustainable forest management, based on 7 criterions and 67 indicators that were developed within the framework of the “Montreal process” and adopted in the year 1995. The first six criterions reflect key characteristics and functions of the forest ecosystems such as:
· Health and sanitary conditions;
· Soil and water resources preservation;
· Forest deposit to the global carbon cycle;
· Socio-economic benefits.
Criterion 7 provides juridical, structural, and economic conditions for the sustainable forest management.
Present report provides information on 42 indicators out of 67 possible. Major reasons for not providing information on the remaining 28 indicators are:
· Lack of statistical data and
· Lack of understanding of how to interpret and assess certain indicators.
Criterion 1 of the present report is focused on the issue of biodiversity conservation and is discussed in details. Here is information on the 8 out of 9 possible indicators. The analysis of these indicators shows that Russian forests play vital a role in biodiversity preservation of temperate and boreal forests of Eurasia at all three levels: ecosystem level, species level, and genetic level. There are two positive factors contributing to biodiversity preservation: the increase of land area covered with forest vegetation and the increase of forested area that provides protective functions. Additional and more thorough research is required for the following issues:
· More accurate assessment of typological biodiversity, succession development, and forest fragmentation, particularly in the territories of nature protection;
· The inventory, specification, and precise definition of the forest dependent species that belong to different taxonomic groups;
· The development of methodological approaches to assess genetic diversity of the representatives of forest dependent populations found in different parts of the area of their distribution.
Using Criterion 2, which assesses forest productivity, there is enough information obtained on all 5 indicators. Maintenance of forest productivity and preservation is provided by regular inventory of forest resources and includes the definition of the exploitation volume. Timber harvesting is going to stay a key component of the forest use and can be performed at the area, which is 46% of the total land area, covered with forest vegetation. Presently, Russia is characterized by insufficient use of the forest resource, where only 22% of the Annual Allowable Cut is harvested. The areas of reforestation, which were already smaller then felling sites, have considerably decreased during the past years. Only 2002 reforestation areas exceeded the areas of felling sites. Besides the high timber volumes of the Russian forests they are also rich with non-timber forest products. However, there is more information required on the current state of the nontimber forest values, levels of its actual extraction and restoration capacity.
Using Criterion 3, which assesses health of forest ecosystems and its vitality, there is data obtained on all the 3 indicators. There are annual analysis and generalizations made on forest fires, sanitary, and pathological forest condition. Forest fire is the major damaging factor, however, it also play a serious role in the environmental evolution, defining the structure and development of the taiga forests. To ensure fire safety, the Russian government passed a plan of urgent measures to prevent forest fires. To suppress fires and to mitigate the consequences of forest and peat ignitions, all fires fighting means are used, including ground units, forest fire suppression aviation brigades, Ministry of emergency divisions and Ministry of defense subdivisions. Forest protection from pests and diseases is based on the data provided by the monitoring activities on sanitary conditions of the forests as well as on forest pathology surveys.
Due to incomplete information, only 3 out of 8 possible indicators characterize Criterion 4, which describes soil and water resources. The available data shows the increase of the Group I forests, which mainly provide soil and water protection functions. This tendency indicates improvements in soil and water protection. Additional research has to be conducted in order to obtain data on indicators, reflecting chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of forest soils and water ecosystems.
There is detailed information available on all three indicators under Criterion 5, which reflects the contribution of the Russian Federation into the global carbon cycle. The estimations of the total carbon pool stored in the organic matter of the forest ecosystems (233 mlrd. tones) prove the exceptional role of Russian forests in the global carbon balance. About 500 mill. tones of carbon are accumulated in the Russian forests, which completely compensate the domestic industrial emission of C-CO2.
As for Criterion 6, reflecting socio-economic functions of the forests, only 9 out of 19 possible indicators are presented. The received information illustrates the importance of socioeconomic functions of the Russian forests, although Russian forest sector is presently undergoing a crisis. This tendency is reflected in the decrease of final felling volumes, timber export volumes, and in the considerable decrease of the involvement of the local population in the forest sector. Additional research is especially desired in the areas of: cultural, social and spiritual inquiries and values, as well as needs, demands and necessities of the population.
As for Criterion 7, 11 indicators out of 20 possible were presented, which shows the necessity for additional information. The Criterion 7 survey illustrates that the principle of sustainable forest management has been already reflected in the forest legislation of the Russian Federation. Thorough changes and further improvements of juridical, structural and economic backgrounds of the preservation of forests and their sustainable use are envisaged in the ongoing reform. The National Forest Policy is presently under the revision. Its major goals are to bring forestry into the leading positions, to reconstruct forest sector towards sustainable development, and to improve forest management.
As a whole, all the indicators of the Montreal process that are described in this Report illustrate that the Forest sector of the Russian economy is on its way towards the sustainable forest development.
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