In its anniversary year, the Boreal Forest Platform in cooperation with its “big sister”, New Generation Plantations Platform organized a cross-border Russian-Chinese field study tour and exchanged experience in sustainable intensive forestry in commercial and plantation forests that maintain the most important environmental protection functions in addition to providing timber.
The field trip was attended by the Russian forest companies, representatives of NGOs from six countries, as well as the forest management authorities of China and the Republic of Buryatia. From 19 to 25 August, the experts visited the forest sites in Mulan forest bureau in the Chinese province of Hebei, and a lease area of Baikal Forest Company and Selenginsky Pulp and Cardboard Mill (PCM) in the Republic of Buryatia.
“This year the Boreal Forest Platform celebrates its first 5-year anniversary. This milestone in the development was marked by an international field workshop, which we held for the first time together with WWF International Platform – New Generation Plantations, whose concept was taken as a basis for the Boreal Forest Platform. Now we sum up the first results and outline new vectors for the development of this unique project for Russia. The main goal of the platform is to create a discussion site for experience exchange and discussion of the best practices in the field of intensive sustainable forestry, which helps not only achieve high economic efficiency of wood production in commercial forests, but to conserve intact forests, which are home to rare species of plants and animals, and biodiversity of forest ecosystems and social values of forests”, says Andrey Shchegolev, WWF-Russia Forest Program Director.
In China, experts from Mulan forest bureau, which is part of the special protective zone “Green Belt of Beijing”, designed to protect the region from desertification, showed the model forest sites and shared their experience of effective and sustainable forest management in restored forests, based on the best practices of the German and Finnish forestry model. The participants were able to visit the experimental sites, with economically profitable projects with continuous conservation of forest cover, and get acquainted with examples of effective restoration of forest landscapes, which preserve the protective functions of forests through the implementation of the “close to nature” approach. Up to seven species of trees grow in the areas of Mulan forest bureau, and the forests themselves are managed taking into account the principles of natural forest dynamics, which significantly distinguishes them from traditional plantations.
In Russia, intensive forestry has already been introduced in several regions at the legislative level and is being implemented by a number of companies. The Republic of Buryatia is the next region that is implementing the intensive forestry model, and the forest business here has yet to go through this difficult way. During the field trip, the representatives of the Selenginsky PCM and Baikal Forest Company, the largest forest company in the region, which leases a large area of protective forests surrounding Lake Baikal, told the participants about the planned activities for the transition to intensive model of sustainable forestry, and experts from around the world shared their experience and recommendations for optimizing this process.
Photography: (c) Cristine Tugova / WWF-Russia
“Based on the results of five years of operation of the Boreal Forest Platform and the introduction of the intensive model of forestry by leading pulp and paper companies in the Northwestern Russia, we can see that the basic principles of environmentally sustainable and cost-effective management in commercial forests have already been largely worked out in practice. We shall further support an effective transition to the new model in those regions of the country where this has not yet been done. A well-established system for disseminating lessons learned and monitoring practices will play a crucial role in this regard. It is also necessary to deal with the possibilities of wider implementation of the intensive sustainable model in Russia: for other types of timber enterprises, for other categories and types of forests. This field workshop and a number of previous ones (in Karelia and Finland) gave us very interesting experience of acquaintance with sustainable forest management not only in commercial forests, but also in protective forests. The extent to which this model is justified in terms of conservation the ecological functions of protective forests, how economically viable it is, what measures are needed to ensure the sustainability of such forests are issues that experts will have to deal with in the future. Now the Boreal Forest Platform is faced with the challenge together with its members to reconsider the tasks for the medium term and develop new formats of work,” says Denis Popov, Group Natural Resources Manager at Mondi.
Also, in the framework of this study tour, the issue of different interpretations of the concept of “intensive forestry” was raised. It is important to note that this concept is quite relative and intensification in different contexts can be understood differently. What participants saw in the context of this field tour was an example of management, when the intensity of forest operations, primarily involves improving the efficiency of forest management, investing more funds and resources to ensure a balance between maintaining important environmental and social functions, and ensuring the economic viability of forestry model.
The study tour “Sustainable Forestry in China and Russia: Finding a Balance Between Intensification and Conservation of Valuable Forests” was organized by the Boreal Forest Platform created by WWF-Russia, Mondi and other partners as an open discussion platform for the sharing experience in the field of sustainable intensive forestry, and the international platform New Generation Plantations created by WWF International for the sharing innovative approaches in the field of forest plantations. The partners of the field workshop were WWF-Russia, WWF-China, China’s National Forestry and Grassland Administration, and Mondi Group, one of the leaders in the field of sustainable intensive forestry in Russia.