Anti-Timber Poaching Brigade in Siberia

Geographical location:

Europe/Middle-East > Eastern Europe > Russian Federation

Vladimir Alekseevich Schibnev, head of the
© WWF-Canon / Vladimir FILONOV

Summary

The project aims to ensure the conservation of the unique mixed temperate forests in the Lesser Khingan district of the Burea Mountain ecoregion in the Russian Far East through halting illegal logging operations.

Internal reporting: operative reports will be produced after each raid. Quarterly and annual reports will also be produced.

External reporting: an annual report will be produced, printed and widely disseminated to all interested parties and it will be made available on the WWF Russia website.

Background

The Lesser Khingan district of the Burea Mountain ecoregion is one of the top priorities for the conservation of the biodiversity in the Russian Far East. It hosts a unique mixture of temperate, boreal and endemic Daurian species, including the last remaining Korean pine (cedar) forests. At present there is no large-scale commercial harvesting in this area. However, the forest is subject to widespread illegal and semi-legal logging activities.

For the past 4 years WWF has built up solid experience in organising and supporting complex anti-poaching brigades, both for the protection of rare species and for control of logging. This work has been carried out within the framework of the "Tiger" control inspections of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in the Russian Far East and through other structures and organisations. These approaches have proven to be very effective in comparison with the existing state system of timber logging control. At present, WWF supports a cedar brigade for logging control in the Primorie region and an owl brigade in the Khabarovsk region.

The "Sobol" anti-poaching group is placed under the Evreiskaya province’s DNR. In addition to monitoring logging, its duties include exposing and preventing illegal fishing in reservoirs and poaching in hunting areas, protection of rare and endangered species and ensuring that other environmental regulations are followed. In accordance with the new administrative code of the Russian Federation, only the staff of the forestry department may halt illegal logging activities and make decisions concerning punishment and penalties. In consideration of the new code, the brigades control logging sites and potential ways of transporting illegally harvested timber, as well as collect and analyse forestry related information in the context of illegal timber harvesting.

Objectives

1. Establish an anti-timber poaching brigade to prevent illegal logging operations. Measurable indicator: anti-timber poaching brigade established 3 months after the project start.

2. Organise and carry out field raids on suspected illegal logging operations. Measurable indicator: average of 12 raids per year with a duration of 10-14 days for each raid.

3. Firmly establish the legal status of the anti-timber poaching brigade on the regional level.

4. Document the basic framework and methods of anti-timber poaching activities.

Solution

WWF would like to establish an additional anti-timber poaching brigade in the Southern Russian Far East to specifically deter illegal logging in the region. The brigade will be based in the city of Birobidjan (coordinator and main group) and partly in the smaller city of Obluchye. It will be active in the Lesser Khingan and Middle-Amur lowland with total area of 3,662,600 ha.

The brigade staff will consist of a number of state forest service inspectors that have the necessary mandate to expose and suppress forest violations, arrest forest legislation infringes, impound equipment and products from illegal forest activities, report on forest regulation violations, and bring guilty parties to justice.

The brigade will cooperate closely with militia authorities, enlisting militia employees to take part in raids on illegal logging operations. An additional task will be the collection of information about the volume and value of illegal logging in the area, about the routes of transportation and other characteristics of illicit trade in timber products.

The initial phase of establishing an anti-timber poaching brigade will require capital investment for the purchasing of the necessary equipment, such as cars and radios.

Lessons learned during the course of the establishment period and the activities themselves in the Evreiskaya province can be used for setting up similar brigades in the Khabarovsky Kray and Amurskaya province as well as in other regions in Russia where the problem of illegal logging needs to be addressed.

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