Back to main WWF-Russia page Back to main WWF-Russia english page
Summer - Autumn 2000
REFERENDUM - tool for making decision-makers think about the future

Russian Timber industrialists go FSC

New regional offices esablished

WWF friends clubs formed

Auction helps restore forests

A bear will save Russian forests
Dear readers,
You are holding the third WWF Russian Programme Office Bulletin, which attempts to describe the major outcomes of the WWF's nature conservation activities in the country.
The period covered in this issue was a difficult one for nature conservation in Russia. Most of WWF's efforts were given to solving conflicts brought about by the abolishment of independent ecological control in the country.
However, this Bulletin also highlights as well some project activities that took place during the summer and autumn of 2000.
Editors: Katya Pal (,
Irina Prokhorova.
Design:Alexander Lavrenov.
Photo: E. Usov, K. Pal, V. Nikiforov,
L. Nemolyaeva, L. Kruglov, I. Nasedkin.
Russian environmentalists call for a referendum!
A decree by President Putin on May 17, 2000, abolished the State Committee for Environmental Protection and the Federal Forest Service. Their environmental control and ecological functions were transferred to the Ministry of Natural Resources _ the main user of natural resources in the country. This decree practically destroyed the system of ecological control in the country and deprived the population of one of the basic rights guaranteed by the Russian Constitution _ the right to a healthy environment. Under the prevailing situation and following numerous unsuccessful attempts to establish a constructive dialogue with decision-makers, non-governmental environmental organisations, including WWF, decided to conduct an All-Russia Nature Conservation Referendum as the last remaining step toward settling the conflict.
It was proposed that Russian citizens would have the opportunity to decide at the Referendum whether they were for or against the import of radioactive materials to Russia for storage and processing; for or against the establishment of an independent federal agency for environmental control and protection; and for or against the creation of a legally independent state forestry service.
The Referendum campaign called for a huge effort from all nature conservation organizations in Russia - including WWF, which played one of the key roles. In order to attract people's attention to the issue, public meetings were held all over the country. About three million signatures were collected throughout the country during the period of July-October 2000. Offices were established to collect signatures in 61 out of 89 of Russia's regions. Their activities were coordinated from Federal headquarters in Moscow.
As announced in November, the number of signatures accepted by the State Electoral Committee totalled less than the 2,000,000 required by Russian law for the Referendum to take place. Over 600,000 signatures were claimed invalid for purely bureaucratic reasons, such as unclear signatures, absence of address details, mistakes in passport details, etc.
Formally, this meant that the Referendum would not happen. However, thousands of Russian citizens whose signatures were declared invalid are going to fight for their rights in court. Also, collection of that many signatures in such a short period had a positive effect by demonstrating the environmentalists' great ability to consolidate their efforts, the high concern of Russian citizens in nature conservation, and a great coherence in taking environmental action.
"It is now clear that regaining independent environmental control in the country will take much time and effort. Nevertheless, WWF is determined to solve this problem while the public goes to court. We will carry on the negotiation process and continue the media campaign. We still do not insist on a referendum itself - we view this as the last possible option yet we will not stop the campaign until the problem is solved," commented Igor Chestin, Director of the WWF Russian Programme Office.
Russian timber producers tend to become ecologically responsible
It was only few months ago that the first timber producer got the first ever in Russia FSC certificate and the Association of Ecologically responsible Timber Producers of Russia was formed. The number of members has grown to 14, and the first results of the Association's work are already evident.
The principal outcome of the Association's work in its less than a year of existence is that several major companies have already begun the FSC certification process. Volga Ltd. (Balakhna, Nizhny Novgorod Region) and the Vologdalesprom Corporation (Vologda Region) started in August with the German auditing company, Luso Consult. Dep-Les (Novgorod Region) began certification with SGS Forestry Ltd. (UK). A few other Association member companies _ Lemo-Group, Krona-M and others — are thinking about beginning the certification process in the near future.
Overall, over 500,000 hectares of forest are expected to be certified in Russia by the end of 2001.

Another positive result is the development of new contacts with western buyers and investors. The Association became widely known among other timber producers, many of whom are now interested in learning more about FSC.

A precedent was set when, for the first time in Russia, federal authorities, large forestry companies and independent environmental organizations (WWF) began working together constructively based on agreement and mutual understanding.

Photo: Representatives from WWF, Luso Consult, Axel Springer Verlag, "Volga", "Koverninsky leskhoz" at the site to be certified (Koverninsky leskhoz, Nizhny Novgorod Region)

WWF RPO People
This quarter's newcomers:
Vadim Kalinin
Environmental Education Officer started working part-time in July 2000 in the Moscow office
Agnessa Sarkisian
Environmental Economics Consultant started working part-time in October 2000 in the Moscow office
Network exchange
Frederick Sunneson of WWF International visited WWF RPO in August to meet with potential WWF Corporate Club members. Together with Faina Zakharova, RPO fundraising coordinator, he held over 15 meetings with representatives of the Russian business elite, most of which resulted in agreements to cooperate.

Welcome to our home!
TRAFFIC Russia has moved to the WWF office in Moscow. From the very beginning in 1995 TRAFFIC Russia has worked closely with WWF and now dwells under the same roof.

Good buy!
Vasiliy Solkin, Communications Officer in the Russian Far East, has left to lead "Taiga Call" NGO in the region. He plans to continue working with WWF as a consultant in the future.

was established in the village Strugi Krasnie in the Pskov region, which is situated in Central European Russia .
The office includes several furnished and equipped rooms for the project staff and a training computer lab where seminars are held for those interested in modern forest planning and management techniques based on principles of sustainable forest management. Another nice peculiarity of the office is a fully equipped sauna for helping project staff and guests relax.
was established in Ufa, the capital of Bashkortastan, where WWF helps enlarge and further develop the system of protected areas. This project, funded by the Government of Switzerland, is implemented in accordance with the Bashkortastan Presidential Gift to the Earth made in 1999 as part of the WWF Living Planet Campaign. Despite frequent cut-offs of electricity and telephone lines, the enthusiastic staff of the Ural office has successfully started operation.

First WWF friends clubs established in Russia
In the beginning of 2000, WWF RPO launched a long-term programme to establish a network of WWF supporters in the Yakutia, Kamchatka and Chukotka regions.
WWF helps to ensure wide participation by the local population in conservation processes, particularly among schoolteachers and school children, who communicate the message to their families and create a pressure group for environmentally friendly decision - making at different political levels.
Since January 2000, four Environmental Education Centres have been established in these regions, and summer ecological outdoor camps for kids have been organized in the nature parks of Kamchatka, Yakutia and Chukotka.
As a result of the WWF conservation and education effort, Clubs of WWF supporters, called "WWF Friends Clubs", have been established in Yakutia, Koryakia, Chukotka, Kamchatka and the Kuril Islands. These are the first steps that RPO is taking in building up a whole network of WWF clubs throughout the country. In the symbol of the WWF Friends Club for Kids, the panda does the nearly impossible task of making a wolf and a hare friends as these animals traditionally clash in popular Russian cartoons and fairytales.
Projects News
  • WWF has always considered indigenous peoples as important counterparts in nature conservation work. With a view to disseminate information on the WWF project and gain additional support among the local communities of the Altai-Sayan eco-region, the WWF Altai-Sayan project participated this summer in the three major regional cultural events. These events were national traditional holidays with wide public participation that took place in the republics of Tyva, Khakassia and Altai. In order to attract broad public attention to the unique ecological region and its national cultural traditions, WWF organized the presence of journalists from Russian central press, France, Italy and Switzerland at the event.
  • An agreement on cooperation in the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) initiative in the Altai-Sayan ecoregion was signed in August between WWF, UNDP, and the former State Committee for Environmental Protection. According to this agreement, WWF RPO will supervise over half of the project's activities. Moreover, it was agreed to take the current WWF Altai-Sayan eco-regional project as a base for the forthcoming 4-year-long GEF project.
  • A volcano crater was named PANDA and an ecological track was named after WWF - not long after a 1,950-meter peak was named after WWF in Kamchatka. This is how the Nalychevo Nature Park administration thanked WWF for its help. In June 2000 delegates from WWF climbed the peak and placed the WWF flag at its summit.
  • A group of journalists visited the Orel Region (Central European Russia), where a free-ranging herd of 54 European Bison has been revived in the wild due to the joint efforts of WWF RPO and the Orel Region administration. In order to establish this herd in central European Russia, WWF asked some zoos and national parks in Western Europe to donate young bison. About 60 bison have been transported into Russian breeding centres since then. Most of them, together with their Russian relatives, have been released in the Orel Region. This September the journalists invited by WWF were lucky to observe the animals in the wild.

  • Forest Programme
  • A WWF RPO project funded by USAID and aimed at preventing forest fires in the Amur Tiger habitat was completed in September. Seven fully trained and equipped fire-fighting brigades were formed and started their activities in the region.
  • Starting in August, five Russian timber companies began FSC certification. Pre-assessments were completed in Madok and Dep-Les from Novgorod, Ecotimber from Vologda, Dammers from Archangelsk, P&P mill Volga from Nizhny Novgorod on an area of more than 600,000 hectares.
  • Certification pre-assessment of the WWF Priluzie model forest in the Komi Republic (800,000 hectares) was done by Smartwood. Preconditions for certification were provided, and work is ongoing to fix those problems that were identified.
  • WWF RPO, together with other NGOs, has discussed, approved and disseminated key documents related to Forest management and Forest products trade: "The Position of Leading Russian NGOs on the Bottom Line of FSC Standards" and "The Position of Russian NGOs Concerning Timber Trade."
  • Draft FSC standards for Khabarovsk and Komi have been produced by the FSC regional groups, discussed and endorsed by the FSC national working group, and are on the way to be provided for comment to FSC and for field testing in 2001.
  • The Pskov Model Forest project was launched in September with the presence of the Pskov Region Administration, project donors, forest management specialists and regional and federal TV and press.
  • From projects to programmes
    Climate Change
  • WWF RPO is lobbying for a ratifiable Kyoto Protocol that closes major loopholes and prioritises domestic actions. This has lead to essential changes in the position of two key Russian ministries: the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Economy. They are focused now on a project-based approach and real emissions reductions instead of "hot air" trading. This was reflected in an article published in the international journal "Climate Policy" (issue #1, 2001).
  • WWF RPO significantly contributed to the good quality emission inventory of greenhouse gases by conducting an inventory first in four regions, including an area of the Altai_Sayan eco-region. These areas contribute about 7% of total Russian emission and create a solid basis for wide extension of experience.
  • WWF RPO has made a principal step toward best understanding the impact of Climate Change on biodiversity. For the first time ever the data of 13 selected State Reserves have been systemised and analysed. The research clearly indicates an impact and potential damage from Climate Change.
  • A first-ever Russian-language Climate Change Web page was developed as a part of the WWF RPO site. It includes relevant documents, reference materials, publications and news.
  • Marine Programme
  • The Marine Programme supported an analytical group of the Kamchatka Directorate for Fish Stock Protection in developing an analytical approach to the databases of fishing vessels reports and satellite positioning. During only two months of actual work, the analytical group has examined 1,800 ships and revealed 320 violations; 140 cases were very serious — when either a systematic discrepancy was found between the data submitted by captains and the objective satellite monitoring data, or when the object of fishing or the actual ship location were completely different from the information submitted by captains. In this cases ship owners' fishing permits were suspended and the ships themselves escorted to the port of registry.
  • WWF RPO and WWF Japan jointly commenced the first project on marine biodiversity conservation around the South Kuril Islands, an area under heavy poaching pressure. The purpose of the project is to raise the profile of the Kurilskiy Zapovednik, where the marine zone is shown to be in great need of protection for living resources from poaching in coastal waters.

  • Plant your forest online!
    WWF RPO's first fundraising programme, "Plant your forest for life," has developed a quite a bit and receives support in different circles. The project is aimed at restoring the unique Altai forests burned in 1997-1998. Planting a hectare of forest costs 300 US$. Together with the Altai Forest Service, RPO appealed to people to sponsor reforestation as a gift to a loved one. About 100 hectares have been already planted with the help of individual donations. In November 2000 a press conference launched the start of a new Internet project jointly with, Russia's leading Internet auction. placed 10 hectares of Altai forest as well as gifts from celebrities for an online auction to support restoration of the Altai forests. Famous Russian rock musicians, writers and designers came to the press conference to express their concern for nature conservation. They presented their gifts, which would later be sold to their fans online: books, toys, pieces of clothing. All profit would go toward restoration.
  • Pskov Model Forest
    This leaflet describes the main goals and steps to be made in building a Model Forest in the Pskov region (Central European Russia).
  • "Forest conservation in Russia: An overview"
    This WWF RPO analytical document, illustrated with a number of maps and diagrams, contributes to the global Forest for Life Campaign by evaluating the state of Russian protected forests and assesses efforts in the regions to protect forest biodiversity using a scorecard rating system.
  • "Forest Bulletin"
    This first issue of the WWF Komi office bulletin gives an overview of the work that WWF implements in the Priluzie Model Forest. The Bulletin will be produced twice a year.
  • WWF in Central Asia
    This leaflet produced in English and Russian gives a brief introduction to WWF activities in the republics of Central Asia.
  • WWF in Altai Sayan Eco-region
    Leaflets in English and Russian briefly introduce the eco-regional approach to nature conservation in Altai-Sayan.
  • Climate Change Programme
    This leaflet in Russian formulates the problem of Climate Change and gives an idea of related WWF activities.
  • WWF in Central European Russia
    This leaflet gives brief description of WWF activities in 4 regions where the project supports protected areas and the creation of a regional econet.
  • Several booklets in English and Russian were dedicated to the Association of Ecologically Responsible Timber Producers of Russia.
  • Ural Project
    This booklet gives a profile of the Ural eco-region and steps that WWF plans to take to help protect biodiversity in the region.
  • "Forest Certification"
    The first issue of the Novgorod Certification Centre journal serves to promote FSC certification in the country and is distributed among timber producers, foresters, NGOs, administration representatives students and teachers.
  • The Living Symbol for the Russian Forest
    A drawing contest for kids was held by WWF RPO jointly with IUCN in the summer of 2000 to choose a living symbol for the Russian forest. Most of the characters proposed by kids as the forest symbol were bears. Basing on these drawings, a group of artists designed the symbol that is planned for use in promoting sustainable forest management and in teaching people to treat forests properly. Creating the symbol was the first step of a WWF RPO project funded by USAID to prevent forest fires in Russia. One of the main activities in this project is public awareness activities in which the symbol is used. The results of the kids' drawing contest and the new symbol were launched in the Museum of Forest in Moscow in September 2000 and received a lot of attention on TV and in the newspapers.
    Tracing the Mountain king - online!
    A unique extreme expedition "Tracking the Snow Leopard" started in the summer of 2000 in Altai-Sayan eco-region. A photographer and a cameraman accompanied a snow leopard expert and spent about a month in the habitat of this wild cat.

    The snow leopard, called locally "the king of the mountain," is the eco-region's flag species. About 120 cats are estimated to live in the area. One of the problems that WWF faces in its leopard protection activities is the lack of information about the specie.

    The snow leopard lives very high up in the mountains and has been rarely filmed or photographed.

    After some careful preparation, the film crew started into the region. The aim was to learn as much as possible about the cat, including information held by the local people. A film and a photo gallery would then be produced.

    However, the most exciting feature of the expedition was its appearance on the Internet. Using a satellite phone, the crew translated pictures and narrative extracts to Moscow, where this information was placed online on the WWF RPO web page.

    Summer - Autumn 2000