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Biodiversity conservation in forest management

Sustainable forest management is impossible without the conservation of biological diversity in forest ecosystems. In addition to the establishment and functioning of protected areas (PA) and a network of protective forests to maintain biodiversity, it is necessary to ensure the existence and species dispersal in the territories actively involved in forest management.

To maintain biodiversity in areas where forests are managed, it is necessary to identify and preserve high conservation value forests (HCVF). However even large but isolated HCVFs cannot completely solve this problem; biodiversity shall be conserved even beyond HCVF.

The European countries where intensive forestry is introduced, such as Finland, Sweden and Norway developed and introduced the concept of key habitats in the early 90s. The concept of «key biotopes» includes:

  • habitats of rare species, mostly small size ones;
  • small areas of rare ecosystems.
  • separate small landscape (sinkholes, boulders, salt licks) and biological (single old trees with spreading crowns, fallen and dead standing trees) elements important for the conservation of a large number of native forest species.

In Russia, the conservation of the key biotopes during logging on forest sites is ensured by Federal Law (FL) «On fauna», FL «On environmental protection» by decree of the RF Government «On the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation», as well as the new forest legislation, including the Forest Code of the Russian Federation and Timber Harvesting Regulations.

Biodiversity conservation is a prerequisite of the certification under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) scheme. In particular, a system to protect rare species and their habitats should be created, key elements of the forest (trees and their groups), etc. should be left intact at logging.

The existing practice of forest management provides the following algorithm for key biotopes conservation:

  • when logging sites are allocated, based on the analysis of various materials, key biotopes should be allocated in advance;
  • then (in the snowless period) logging sites are inspected and key biotopes and elements are identified on spot, they are marked and mapped in the technological logging map.
  • depending on the selected key biotopes and objects, a logging plan is drafted (construction of skidding trails, location of loading bays, etc.);
  • if during logging some key biotopes and/or elements are found that are not specified in the logging plan and in the technological logging map, they are conserved and then the documents are relevantly amended.

Each enterprise develops its own internal guidelines for biodiversity conservation at forest sites development, which should be agreed upon with the regional forest management authorities.

Significant experience of biodiversity conservation during logging has been accumulated in Pskov, Kirov and Arkhangelsk Oblasts, the Komi Republic and Karelia; recommendations are being developed for the enterprises in Vologda Oblast. The first experience of such forest management emerged in Siberia as draft recommendations for conservation of key habitats, which has already been agreed with the Forestry Agency of Irkutsk Oblast.