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
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
Editors: Katya Pal (email@example.com),
Photo: E. Usov, K. Pal, V. Nikiforov,
L. Nemolyaeva, L. Kruglov, I. Nasedkin.
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.
Russian environmentalists call for a referendum!
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.
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.
Russian timber producers tend to become ecologically responsible
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
WWF RPO People
|This quarter's newcomers:
Environmental Education Officer started working part-time in
July 2000 in the Moscow office
Environmental Economics Consultant started working part-time in
October 2000 in the Moscow office
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.
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.
WWF NETWORK GROWS
|PSKOV MODEL FOREST OFFICE
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 Molotok.ru, Russia's leading Internet auction.
Molotok.ru 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.
Plant your forest online!
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.
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
This booklet gives a profile of the Ural eco-region and steps that WWF
plans to take to help protect biodiversity in the region.
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.
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.
The Living Symbol for the Russian Forest
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 snow leopard lives very high
up in the mountains and has been rarely filmed
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