FLEG II experts presented the Program’s achievements in Bezhanitsky District, Russia
From May 12th to 14th, a seminar entitled “Forming Partnerships with Local Communities” was organized at the Polistovsky Natural Reserve (PNR), in northwest Russia, and was attended by representatives of Protected Areas who are members of the Association of Protected Areas of the North-Western Region, and representatives of local communities situated in proximity to the PNR.
The scope of the seminar was to present the activities undertaken since the establishment of the cooperation between the FLEG Programme and the Reserve in 2009 to ensure the mutually beneficial coexistence of the protected area and the surrounding villages.
Two representatives of the ENPI Forest Law Enforcement and Governance Program (FLEG II), Natalia Milovidova and Konstantin Gongalsky, took part in the seminar to illustrate the fruitful collaboration established with the PNR and the residents of Tsevlo, a village of Bezhanitsky District.
“Since 2010, we have been engaged in developing numerous activities aimed to promote ecotourism” said Natalia Milovidova, FLEG II Consultant for IUCN in Russia, “We wanted to demonstrate that protected areas represent a precious resource to help villages face ever growing socio-economic challenges. A prime example are the FLEG-supported Master Classes in traditional crafts, that helped local communities (re)discover profitable ways of using non-timber forest products to produce souvenirs for tourists. Their success demonstrates that economic growth can go hand in hand with nature protection and sustainable use of forest resources”.
On this occasion, the attendees were introduced to the concept of Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR), defined as “the ongoing process of regaining ecological functionality and enhancing human well-being across deforested or degraded forest landscapes” which has a clear potential to further facilitate local cooperation in this area1.
“FLR does not simply mean to plant trees” explained Konstantin Gongalsky, FLEG II Consultant for IUCN in Russia, “This practice entails the restoration of a degraded landscape so that it becomes functional to meet present and future needs and be beneficial to local communities. Ecological functionality can be achieved through a variety of processes such as new tree plantings, managed natural regeneration, agroforestry, or other strategies to improve land management”.
“The activities that we have carried out in close cooperation with the inhabitants of Tsevlo prove that the involvement of local communities is a key factor in efficient forest resource management and increased landscape functionality” affirmed Andrey Zaytsev, FLEG II Country Program Coordinator for IUCN in Russia, “The successful partnership formed with the communities in Bezhanitsky District provides a solid basis for FLR. This approach is a particularly effective way of addressing local needs and contributing towards the achievement of the goals set by the Bonn Challenge. The administrations of the PNR and of other reserves expressed a keen interest in exploring the possibility of implementing FLR in the region”.
The workshop ended with a tour of the ecological routes of the Reserve: the eco-trail “Plavnitskoe bog”, the boat trip “From the bog to the ocean”, and the newly created path “By the beaver’s path”.