In 2012, the FAO-PROFOR Framework for Assessing the Quality of Forest Governance was successfully tested in the Russian Federation; it had been designed and customized by an international team, including experts from the FFA. The testing enabled to identify key issues of forest governance and increase their visibility among the public authorities. The study was undertaken to assess the quality of forest governance at the national level. However, the decentralization of forest governance preconditions high importance of region-specific quality of forest administration because the Forest Code of the Russian Federation, adopted in 2007, delegates key powers in this area to Russian regions. Some participants of the testing exercise expressed interest in its adaptation for assessing the quality of forest governance at the level of a Russian region.
Under the FLEG II Program, experts from the World Bank adapted the tool, used to assess the quality of forest governance at the national level, to apply it for the same purpose but the level of a Russian region. They prepared a new, shorter questionnaire. This Report presents guidelines on how to assess the quality of forest governance in a Russian region. The questionnaire-based survey is scheduled for the second half of 2015/2016.
The diagnostic exercise of assessing the quality of forest governance will be based on the FAO-PROFOR Framework as customized for such assessments at the level of a Russian region and will consist of the following 5 steps: (i) putting together an expert/respondent group, (ii) conducting a preliminary survey of the group, (iii) processing of the preliminary survey results, (iv) holding an open discussion, and (v) documenting the results.
This Report contains a detailed substantive description of each step.
It is demonstrated that the role of the experts/respondents, adopting this or that judgement, is decisive; therefore, to minimize the risks of biased judgements, it is necessary to take a very thorough approach to selecting experts to be included in such an expert/respondent group. They will be selected on the basis of the following criteria: they should possess needed theoretical and practical knowledge of forest management and forest use; they should present the visions of the following key forest stakeholder groups in a given Russian region: regional governments, regional forest management authorities; timber business; forest NGOs; and forest research community. It is intended to hold a preliminary survey of a limited number of participants from the expert group to prepare for an open discussion. The main objectives of the survey are: to seek motivated opinions of the experts and identify the variation in assessments of different aspects of regional forest governance; to identify questions which yield the same responses from different stakeholder groups; to identify questions which are differently responded and are subject to discussion at the workshop to arrive at a consensus-based opinion. To conduct the survey, it is planned to use a questionnaire for rapid assessment of forest governance. Drawing on the experience gained earlier, it is recommended that the following three surveying methods should be applied: 1) face-to-face interviews; 2) personal questionnaire-based surveys; and 3) anonymous questionnaire-based surveys through a web-site.
Strengths and weaknesses of these surveying methods are presented.
The experience of the Forest Governance Diagnostics Project in Russia shows that a workshop is the most appropriate format for an open discussion of preliminary survey results and arrival at consensus-based assessments of participating stakeholders. Only this format enables various representatives of civil society, forest stakeholders to share opinions and arrive at a shared vision of specific aspects of forest governance. The report presents recommendations on how to hold such workshops.
A new, significantly shortened questionnaire was designed. It includes 50 questions under 3 pillars, corresponding to those of the PROFOR Framework:
PILLAR 1: POLICY, LEGAL, REGULATORY AND INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORKS;
PILLAR 2: PLANNING AND DECISION-MAKING PROCESSES;
PILLAR 3: IMPLEMENTATION, ENFORCEMENT AND COMPLIANCE.
The questionnaire includes additional questions to be used as indicators of forest management performance, corresponding to the indicators, used by the FFA to evaluate the performance of Russian regions, executing the federal powers, delegated to them.
 PROFOR is the World Bank-based Program on Forests