FLEG II analyzed main forest restoration problems at the All-Russia Scientific and Practical Conference on Relevant Issues of Forest Restoration in Saint Petersburg.
On May 31 - June 2 2016, Saint Petersburg hosted V International Scientific and Practical Conference “Innovation and Technology in Forestry 2016” (ITF-2016). The event gathered over 300 leading experts in the field.
The Russian Forestry Agency dedicated 2016 to forest restoration, and this determined the agenda. One of the main ITF events was All-Russian Scientific and Practical Conference on Relevant Issues of Forest Restoration.
FLEG II expert Alexey Bobrinsky spoke before the conference participants on the topic, “Key problems of management and law enforcement in forest restoration” in Russia. Below are the main conclusions of the presentation.
Forest plans of Russian regions are balanced, but implementation doesn’t always go according to the plan: 19 regions significantly exceed the restoration plans, and some (8) are far behind.
The Russian Forest Code has considerable gaps when it comes to regulating forest restoration. In particular, it doesn’t say who is responsible for tending forests that have not been transferred into use, and for taking care of the products of forest seed breeding. The Forest Code states that “forest plant funds” must be formed for forest seed breeding, but doesn’t say how these funds should be organized and who should be responsible for them. The same applies to the norm that the protective forests should be restored in accordance with their purpose: in reality, protective forests are restored using the same methods as the timber production forests.
Most legislative norms described in bylaws are advisory rather than normative. For example, they say that each forestless area allocated for forest restoration must have a Forest Restoration Project, but do not say who, when and how should develop this Project.
Forest restoration rules declare that forest plantations must reflect the purpose of the forest area, but they don’t regulate how exactly protective forests should be restored in accordance with their purpose.
The legislation does not regulate which forest restoration methods – artificial or natural - should be chosen in which volume. Forest lease contracts often overestimate how much artificial forest restoration is needed and don’t take into account the availability of forest planting material in the vicinity. Often forest users create forest plantations on areas that were already successfully restoring naturally. As a result, thick and high-quality young trees are replaced with tree seedlings with low chances of surviving.
It is difficult for the government to assess the results and exercise control over forest restoration by forest users. Forest legislation doesn’t set any time frames for transforming forest plantations and natural young forests into full-grown forests. Therefore, forest restoration work cannot be assessed by the final results – only by the conducted activities. Even new norms adopted in 2015 did not solve this problem. According to the new legislation, the government monitoring of forest restoration must produce “analytical materials”, but neither the Forest Code nor the new regulation itself introduce any managerial steps that authorities could take following the results of the monitoring.
Only 12 regions of Russia have positive balance of planting material. All regions have a deficit of heavy machinery and high-quality planting material.