The Caucasian mixed forests are a vast ecological region. The whole Caucasus. Only part of this ecoregion is located in our country. Our, Russian, Caucasus – this is 10% of the forest from the total territory of the region. Only 3572 thousand hectares are covered with forest. The total timber reserves are estimated at about 495 million cubic meters. For understanding: this is 0.6% of the forest reserves of our country. And here is the question: is it even worth evaluating the “timber reserves” and the “economic value of timber” in the Caucasian forests?
In addition to the protected areas of the Kavkazsky Reserve and several wildlife sanctuaries, all other forests here are classified as protective. That is, at least clear-cut planned felling is illegal here. In fact, felling is underway. This is the only health resort region in our country with a warm climate. A recreation area for people, even more important due to the closure of borders in the world. Therefore, construction is underway here. Areas are being developed for bases, sanatoriums, just residential complexes. Even more infrastructure facilities: highways, communications, etc. Including inside protected areas. Each time it is the cutting down of unique forests. At the same time, the usual commercial timber harvesting continues to exist. The fact is that 100% of beech forests are in the Caucasus. Most of the oak forests, more than 20%, are in the Caucasus. There are many other trees whose timber is prized. So they continue to hack by hook and by hook!
I will give examples of how and why this happens.
Clear cuttings are prohibited by law in protective forests. I repeat that the forests of the Caucasus are small in area and all belong to the categories of protective forests. Those that are not protected areas at all! But selective felling is allowed while preserving forest functions. Development, that is, partial felling, is possible. But only for the purpose of preserving the environment-forming, water-protective, protective, sanitary-hygienic, health-improving, etc. useful functions of forests. In this case, the simultaneous use of wood is allowed. Subject to the condition that this use is compatible with the intended purpose of the protective scaffolding. Plus, local residents have the right by law to firewood for heating, to wood for construction.
On the basis of the existing legal grounds, the constituent entities of the Federation lease forest plots for the purpose of logging. Since 2009, this has been done in the Krasnodar Territory, since 2013 in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, since 2014 in the Republic of Adygea. Quite large-scale selective felling is carried out on the basis of contracts for the sale and purchase of forest stands in other administrative regions. This is, for example, for the personal purposes of citizens, for the construction of a house, etc.
In theory, everything is correct in the laws. Moreover, from the point of view of forestry, forestry management, it may even be necessary to cut down some areas! Let me remind you about the moth and other invasive species of insects, for example. An area infected with a pest insect and already dead in fact needs to be cut down to prevent the spread of insects further. The whole question is how everything actually happens. The whole point is that legal justifications are often used only for formal justification of felling at all and not necessary!
The circuits are old. They are found everywhere, in all regions of the country. From the Baltic to the Pacific Ocean. Extracts are made for individuals, local residents, and the cut down wood is taken by a merchant for elite furniture made of wild pear, for example.
A section of the forest is declared to be infested with insects, but this is not the case. The forest there is alive and healthy, just a forest pathological examination was paid for by a merchant.
There are many options for such schemes! It’s hard to track. Something can be done only by joint efforts, in the interaction of state environmental structures and society. Using public control. For example: the Russian Caucasus branch of WWF Russia has been working on the development of public monitoring of the legality of logging since 2016. For 2017, according to an independent assessment of the results of auctions for the right to conclude contracts for the sale and purchase of forest plantations in the Krasnodar Territory, social activists found that about 50% of the plots were assigned for felling or were felled with violations. 10 sites generally belonged to the protected area of the Sochi National Park – SPNA!
Fresh data for 2020: in Karachay-Cherkessia, WWF employees managed to obtain evidence of illegal logging in protective forest areas. Logging there, accordingly, is generally prohibited! Environmentalists have requested data from the Ministry of Natural Resources. Conducted an independent examination. And they realized that in four years the local authorities have given 71 areas of protective forests for felling with a total area of almost 100 hectares of forests and with a permitted felling of 3118 cubic meters of timber. The Department of Rosleskhoz for the Southern Federal District admitted all violations since February 2018. These are 46 protected forest areas with an area of 42.9 hectares and a volume of 1538 cubic meters of timber transferred for felling in violation of the law. Rosleskhoz conducts a routine inspection of the fulfillment by the authorities of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic of their powers in relation to forests. According to preliminary data, these forest areas are classified as protective, where cutting is prohibited by law, the Ministry of Natural Resources confirmed.
Like this: environmental departments do not always know what is happening on the ground, in the regions! We need citizens’ help, people’s participation!
ONCE AGAIN I WILL REPEAT THE QUESTION THAT I ASKED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE ARTICLE: IS IT WORTH EVERYTHING TO EVALUATE THE “RESOURCES OF WOOD” AND “THE ECONOMIC VALUE OF WOOD” OF THE CAUCASIAN FORESTS?
First, the uniqueness of the region is that it is a tourist, recreational region. In fact, the only region in the country with a warm climate!
And second: the climate-protective function of the Caucasus forests has not been assessed at all! Since 2010, the retreat of glaciers has been recorded. The rivers grow shallow. And many of them originate here in the Caucasus.
What profit can be for individual merchants to the detriment of the future of huge agrarian regions and to the detriment of the future of all citizens of our entire country ?! Should we all lose our rest in the south and food from the south due to the fact that some businessmen want to earn extra money now on little things ?!
© PAVEL PASHKOV
Translation of articles from Russian into English is carried out with the support of a google translator. All claims for errors should be sent to Google.
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