Dr. Evgeny Shvarts
Institute of Geography of Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
Although Russia has approximately 20.1% world forest area and 1/4 of world timber reserves, the main problem of the country's forestry sector is a shortage of wood raw materials, as well as degradation of economically viable forests in old-developed regions. Incentives for long-term investments to improve the quality of the forest fund are absent, and the regulatory framework is imperfect and insufficiently protects the interests of investors. An analysis of the initiatives of federal forest management bodies shows that the only explanation for the formation and maintenance of the existing situation in the forest industry is the desire the relevant departments to use ecologically and economically unjustified pretexts for the state budget implementation. Effectiveness of spending is frequently not assessed, as a result occurs misinformation of the country's authorities. Situation analysis demonstrates that several forest management models coexist in Russia. One of them is the model set by the Russian Forest Code (2006), it is likely to sustain at areas leased for large logging companies for the long term. Some initial signs of more intensified forest management are visible there. Another model is typical extensive model – ‘wood mining’. This system evolves back to the Soviet times. There is an ambition to revitalize state-owned forest management enterprises or / and the state-owned all Russia wide corporation responsible for reforestation and logging at areas which are not leased for private companies. Forest data is largely absent and existing one is unavailable for state or public control. Funds available for forest management are misused. Federal forest management bodies ignore the fact that lack of available timber resources is due to lack of effective reforestation. Reforestation methods in use and those used in the past do not ensure establishment of economically valuable forest stands to replace those logged or burned. Reforestation is focused on production of plantlets and planting with no weeding and thinning of planted or natural young stands. Criteria to assess success of reforestation based on species composition are not developed and not established. Imitation of reforestation does not help to solve the problem of economic value degradation of secondary forests, including those growing in the most productive zone – Central European Russia. Authorities ignore exceptional values of intact forest landscapes for preservation of biodiversity and global climate change mitigation. In 7 years since the Russian Forest Policy has been approved not a single National Forest heritage site has been established to preserve forests from exploitation. Despite strategic documents approved in 2013–2018 forest management authorities continue supporting extensive forest management and make no substantial steps towards transition to more intensified forest management. One of the first steps should be calculation of rent fee based on rented area, but not on a volume of logged timber.