Pskov Model Forest (PMF) is a place where for the first time in Russia were developed the idea and concept of the intensive model. Its highly efficient primary elements were developed and demonstrated in practice, and it is also a unique inter-regional site to exchange the best practices.
The project was launched in 1999 on the initiative of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Different Russian regions were considered as the implementation sites. In 2000, a part of forest area leased by ‘STF-Strug’ company – subsidiary of Stora Enso (area of Strugo-Krasnensky leskhoz, 18400 hectares) in Pskov Oblast received a status of a model forest.
The experts conducted a detailed survey of flora and fauna, and an inventory with the application of landscape ecological approaches. Then new guidelines and the landscape ecological plan of forest management were developed, which were approved at the public hearings with the participation of all stakeholders. The plan always addressed the needs of forestry specialists, forest inventory specialists, local residents, representatives of the public.
PMF applies a new approach in forest management, where the main principle is the transition from gathering to growing with care. It is based on the maximum use of the natural productivity of plantations and improving the quality of forest stands through thinning in order to gain the maximum benefits from the forest. This approach allows to increase 2-2.5 times the economic return from forests, and in relatively short periods to make it sustainable.
In its first years PMF was certified according to the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as it complied with strict international environmental and social requirements to forest management and forest use.
Project activities were conducted on the forest area leased by one of subsidiaries of international pulp and paper manufacturer Stora Enso, which was one of the project’s donors. Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency – SIDA and WWF Germany were also the donors of this project. The experience gained within this project including landscape ecological planning and forest certification was distributed further over forests leased by Stora Enso subsidiaries and other key forest companies of the region.
Within the framework of the project training materials were published, including brochure “Environmentally safe forest management planning”, “Regulations for commercial thinning” and many others. “Regulations for commercial thinning for the intensive model of forest management” developed by the PMF experts in 2006 were reviewed and approved at the meeting of the Section on forest management and forest use of the Federal Forestry Agency Board.
In 2003, the members of the Coordinating Board on interaction of the State forest service of the Ministry of natural resources and the timber industry complex recommended to replicate the model not only in Pskov Oblast, but across the North-West of the Russian Federation.
The project created a network of 15 demonstration sites to train forestry experts and timber companies in terms of new technological methods for sustainable forest management.
PMF has become a platform for many workshops. Thousands of specialists of forestry and forest industries learned here the advanced forest management technologies.
Since 2005, the positive experience of the project has been actively disseminated in the North-West of Russia. Environmental planning today is applied across the area of over 1,500,000 hectares (Pskov, Leningrad, Novgorod Oblasts). Forestry intensification is directly associated with the forestry development in Russia in the nearest future, and the established scientific base of the PMF will provide the industry with qualified personnel and will help avoid possible errors when implementing new approaches in practice.