According to FAO, more than 140 countries announced about development and/or approval of their national forest policies, 76 countries approved and/or revised their national forest policies after 2000. Till the end of 2011, Russia, which holds 20 % of the World’s forest cover (1.18 bln hectares) did not have its forest policy document.

In August 2011 WWF Russia addressed the Federal Forest Agency of Russia with a claim to develop the Russian Forest Policy document through an inclusive public participation process. In the end of November 2011 the Public Ecological Council of the Federal Forest Agency approved the start of the Russian Forest Policy development  through a participatory process together with interested government bodies, NGOs and the forest private sector. The Federal Forest Agency established a Working Group of experts representing various stakeholders to develop a draft text of the Russian Forest Policy.

In December 2011 WWF Russia organized the First NGO Round Table on Russian Forest Policy Document for environmental and social NGOs all over Russia. The NGO community delegated 2 representatives – from WWF Russia and Greenpeace – into the Working Group which was in charge to develop the draft of the Russian Forest Policy Document. 

Recommendations, developed by NGOs at this Round Table became the basis for environmental and social aspects of the draft Russian Forest Policy. The draft was discussed by the Public Ecological Council of the Federal Forest Agency and after that it was broadly published at the All-Russia Forest Sector Forum March 29, 2012.

You are welcome to participate in discussing the Russian Forest Policy document. The Forest Policy is planned to be a ‘constitution’ of the Russian Forest Sector, all Russian forest legislation and programs for the sector’s development should be in compliance with the Forest Policy. Its draft is ready. Now it is time for a public discussion!

Steps to participate in the discussion of the Russian Forest Policy:

1. Please read the draft Russian Forest Policy developed by the Working Group of the Federal Forest Agency of Russia.

2. Find out opinions of professional foresters, scientists, environmentalists, and the position of WWF Russia about the draft Forest Policy text.

3. Please think about the role of forests in your life and what would you suggest to improve in the draft Russian Forest Policy to promote your forest values?  

4. Publish your suggestions.

What are the innovative concepts suggested by the draft Russian Forest Policy?

1. Forests are typically viewed as timber resources in Russia. Among all legislative documents the draft Forest Policy is the only one that suggests that forests of Russia have important ecosystem and social values and lays a basis for preservation of these forest functions.  

2. The draft Forest Policy prohibits removing forests from public property and public use in  populated areas of the country, including surroundings of large cities. If this provision is preserved in the final document and further translated into the forest legislation the uncontrolled logging for road construction and privatization of forests to build cottages around Moscow will not be possible. 

Does WWF Russia believe that the draft Russian Forest Policy is a perfect document? The draft document is a great step forward but it should be further improved.

The detailed WWF’s suggestions are here. Please see below some of them:

1. WWF Russia believes that authorities should be responsible for publishing concise information about forests and their current and planned use, including all forest planning documents, forest inventory information, Forest Register, information on leased forest areas and emergency situations in forests. This is important for people to be aware of logging plans and wild fires.  

2. We believe that uncontrolled logging and privatization of forests should not be allowed not only in densely populated areas of the country but also in the areas where Indigenous peoples and traditional communities live and/or which are important for their traditional economic activities.

3. This draft document says about public forest control, however no further comments on its practical empowerment and implementation are provided. For the public forest control to be a practical instrument authorities have to be obliged to consider all suggestions and complains from the public control participants and take necessary measures.

For more information please contact Nikolay Shmatkov, the Forest Policy Projects Coordinator, WWF Russia at nshmatkov@wwf.ru