Russia and Germany: cooperation on climate stabilization and conservation of Korean pine forests within the range of the Amur tiger



Posted on 18 September 2012  | 
Today, on 18th September, the Russian-German Symposium “Forest climate projects of the Russian Far East: innovative mechanisms for sustainable development” is taking place in Khabarovsk

The organizers and initiators of the Symposium are WWF and the Far Eastern Forest Management Research Institute (DalNIILKH). Its Russian participants include the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, Federal Forestry Agency (Rosleskhos), Sberbank of Russia, Far Eastern regional divisions of Rosleskhoz and the Natural Resource Use Control Agency (Rosprirodnadzor), the Administrations of Khabarovsky, Primorsky and Evreiskaya Provinces, the Forestry Agencies from these provinces, the Institute of Economic Research of the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Science, Primorskaya Agricultural Academy, federal forest inventory and analysis organizations Roslesinforg and Dallesproject. Regional businessmen such as the leasers of nut harvesting zones and processers of Korean pine nuts are participating, as well as the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Primorsky Province, the indigenous peoples’ enterprise “Tiger” and WWF Russia.

Among the participants from Germany are representatives of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany (BMU), German Development Bank (KfW), the consulting company GFA ENVEST and WWF Germany.

The symposium is devoted to issues of Russian-German cooperation for climate stabilization and nature protection. The focus is on the results of the pathbreaking Bikin River Basin climate project, the first ever implemented in the Russian Far East within the framework of the Kyoto protocol. The project aims for the conservation of large massif of intact forests in the Bikin River Basin that are key habitats for the Amur tiger. This project was launched in 2009 by WWF Russia and WWF Germany in Primorsky Province in partnership with the indigenous peoples’ enterprise “Tiger” and financed by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany (BMU) and German Development Bank (KfW) within the framework of the International Climate Initiative of the German Government.

“The Bikin River Basin is the last remaining untouched massif of temperate old-growth forests in the Russian Far East, home for the Udege and Nanai indigenous peoples and haven for the Amur tiger, - says Vladimir Shirko, the president of the Association of indigenous peoples of Primorsky Province. – Thanks to the support of WWF and the Forestry Agency of Primorsky Province, 461 thousand hectares of the Bikin pine nut harvesting zone and water protection forests were leased to the indigenous peoples’ enterprise “Tiger” on a 49-year conservation concession for the harvesting of non-timber forest resources such as Korean pine nuts.”

“As the forests of the Bikin River Basin sequester significant amounts of CO2 and play an important role in the mitigation of climate change, this project has been supported as part of the International Initiative of the German Government on global climate stabilization, - comments Yury Darman, head of WWF-Russia Amur branch. – The received funds were used to cover payments for the conservation concession as well as development of forest inventory and a management plan, forest fire prevention measures and anti-poaching activities, the construction of facilities for collection and processing of non-timber forest products. And most importantly, all necessary documentation for receiving carbon credits as part of the Kyoto Protocol was prepared for the first time.”

Due to the success of joint Russia-Germany efforts, the BMU and KfW launched at the World Tiger Forum (St-Petersburg, November 21-24, 2010) a new large scale project on conservation of Korean pine forests in the Amur tiger habitats, which was started in August 2011 in Primorsky, Khabarovsky and Evreiskaya Provinces. Thus, the Russian-Germany Climate Initiative is helping to implement the Kyoto Protocol, and simultaneously conserving valuable ecosystems, biodiversity and traditional natural resource use by local communities.

«As part of the partnership between Russia and Germany the Bikin Pilot Project enables the development of innovative market mechanisms for nature protection by means of biodiversity conservation and climate stabilization, – says Juergen Keinhorst, head of the division for cooperation with Eastern European countries of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany (BMU). – In future this model should allow for the conservation of similar forest areas that are valuable for climate stabilization and biodiversity conservation. Thus, we can regard the joint Russian-German project as a pioneer in this field”.

“On July 17, 2011 in the course of bilateral negotiations between Angela Merkel and Dmitry Medvedev a Memorandum of Understanding on support for the project «Protection of virgin forests of the Bikin River to reduce climate change impact (The Russian Far East)» was signed, - notes Irina Fominykh, deputy director of the International Cooperation Department at the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources. – So, the Bikin Project has received support at high levels of the government, thus providing possibilities for international financial assistance for conservation of intact forests”.

“Thanks to the inclusion of Korean pine in the List of tree species forbidden for harvesting and strengthening of governmental and civil society control of illegal logging we have managed to stop the reduction of Korean pine-broadleaved forests in the Russian Far East, - says Aleksander Mariev, head of Forest Use and Regeneration Department of the Federal Forestry Agency. – And leasing Korean pine harvesting zones for the harvest of non-timber forest products provides for protection and sustainable use of about one million hectares of Korean pine forests, uniting the interests of both local people and tigers.”

At the symposium in Khabarovsk new mechanisms for nature protection and regional development are being discussed that have perspective for conservation of Korean pine forests in the range of the Amur tiger in Khabarovsky, Primorsky and Evreiskaya Provinces. Special attention is being paid to the roles of the Bikin and Korean Pine Projects in fulfilling the commitments Russia has made for tiger conservation. There is also discussion of development of legislation on climate and carbon markets in Russia, complex and sustainable use of Korean pine forests, the importance of Koran pine harvesting zones for the local economy, establishing new forest protected areas and improving management of the existing protected areas.
The Bikin River Basin is the largest remaining untouched massif of temperate old-growth forests in the Russian Far East
© Pavel Fomenko / WWF Russia Enlarge

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