COUNTRY PRODUCTION STATUS Although Russia accounts for over 20% of the world forests, its share of world forest products trade is below 4%. To find out more, click here.
LAWS The Russian Forest Code (2006) is the main forestry law of the Russian Federation. For more information on this and other laws and regulations pertaining to forest management, wood harvesting, processing and trade, including the Russian Roundwood Act of 2013 click here.
TRANSPARENCY Information on transparency and governance indicators can be found here.
CITES Russia became a party to CITES in 1992.
CONTACTS AND ORGANIZATIONS Several industry associations, civil society, and government agencies work on forest related issues in Russia. Their profile and contacts are found here.
Last updated: October 2016
Russia contains the largest area of forest of any state on Earth, accounting for more than 20% of the planet’s forest estate (larger than the Amazon rainforest ) and representing 11% of biomass on Earth.1,2
According to the FAO 2015 Global Forest Assessment report3,4, the total forest area5,6 in Russia covers 814.9 million hectares and includes:
· other naturally regenerated forest7 - 522.3 million ha;
· primary forests8 - 272.7 million ha;
· planted forests9 - 19.8 million ha;
· other wooded land10 - 74.9 million ha.
The percentage of land area covered by forest as a share of the total land area of Russia amounts to 49.8%.11 Russian forests are represented predominantly by boreal forest plants (88%). Main forest-forming tree species are larch, pine, spruce, fir, cedar, birch and aspen. They account for over 98% of land covered by tree forest vegetation. Standing larch trees account for 35%, pine accounts for 15%, and spruce accounts for 10% of stocked land area. Sub-boreal and nemoral forests, composed of broadleaved oak species, beech, elm, lime tree, maple and other deciduous tree species, account for 12% of total forest land area. Other tree species (pear tree, chestnut, European walnut, Manchurian walnut, etc.) account for less than 1% of land, while other species including shrubs (dwarf Siberian pine, shrubby birch, etc.) account for about 9%. Forest-forming tree species of the coniferous group account for 67%, hard-leaved deciduous accounts for 2%, and soft-leaved deciduous trees account for 29% of forest land.12
Despite efforts of Russian authorities to preserve forests using nature reserves and parks, funding for park rangers is lacking and corruption is widespread, limiting the protection of forests.13 Illegal logging is prevalent, especially in the Northwest and in the Far East, close to the border with China, the dominant market for Russian illegal timber.14 This has been an issue for many years, with WWF estimating in the 2003 report “Illegal logging in Northwestern Russia and export of Russian forest products to Sweden”15 that Russia lost $1 billion every year due to illegal logging16. According to a 2013 EIA report Liquidating the Forests,17 illegal logging cost the Russian Federation economy nearly 4 billion rubles in lost revenues and resources in 2010, but this could be under-estimated.18 It was reported that at least 80% of all precious hardwood trees harvested in the Russian Far East could be illegally logged. 75% of harvesting is apparently accounted for by clearcutting19, and the implementation of forest protection policies is relatively slow. Deforestation of boreal forests is particularly damaging as the forests have a short growing season due to extremely cold winters and therefore take longer to recover.
A 2013 WWF Russia report, “Illegal Logging in the Russian Far East: Global Demand and Taiga Destruction“20 states that illegal logging has reached crisis proportions in the Russian Far East, reporting that between 2004 – 2011, the volume for export to China of valuable hardwood species, in particular Mongolian oak (Quercus mongolica), Manchurian ash (Fraxinus mandshurica), Japanese elm (Ulmus propinqua), Amur linden (Tilia amurensis) and Manchurian linden (Tilia mandshurica) were logged at 2-4 times their authorized volume. In October 2015, Lumber Liquidators (a large hardwood flooring company based in the USA) pleaded guilty to importing timber into the United States which was illegally harvested from the Russian Far East.21 In February 2016, they were sentenced to US$13.2 million in fines and forfeitures for importing illegal wood and submitting false declarations under the Lacey Act. Additionally, Lumber Liquidators was placed on a five-year probation, during which it must implement a strict environmental compliance plan.22
2 Russiapedia http://russiapedia.rt.com/of-russian-origin/taiga/
3 FAO (2015): Forest Resource Assessment. Country Guide for Russia. http://www.fao.org/documents/card/en/c/d78d538b-1e60-4a59-a8ee-45694be95b8e/
4 FAO (2015) Forest Global Assessment Report http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4808e.pdf
5 FAO (2015) Forest Resources Assessment, Terms and Definitions. The FAO define forest cover as “land spanning more than 0.5 hectares with trees higher than 5 meters and a canopy cover of more than 10 percent, or trees able to reach these thresholds in situ. It does not include land that is predominantly under agricultural or urban land use.” http://www.fao.org/docrep/017/ap862e/ap862e00.pdf
6 The amount of forest area referenced here relies on the UN FAO definition of forests, since the FAO definition is one of the world’s most widely used standards for measuring and reporting forest area at the country level. The FAO forest definition, however, has been criticized because it captures monoculture plantations and includes areas designated as forest land-use, even when those areas are un-stocked with trees at the time of measuring forest area. It should also be noted that the FAO definition counts areas with 10% or more canopy cover as forests (in addition to other criteria). By comparison, for example, Global Forest Watch sets its default tree cover canopy analysis tool at 30 % canopy cover. For more information on this issue, see the FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment website, in addition to this open letter signed by civil society organizations from around the world, as well as these articles by Vidal et. al., Mather and Mathews and Grainger.
7 Where the tree species are predominantly non-native and do not need human help to reproduce/maintain populations over time.
8 Naturally regenerated forest of native species, where there are no clearly visible indications of human activities and the ecological processes are not significantly disturbed.
9 Forest predominantly composed of trees established through planting and/or deliberate seeding.
10 Land not defined as “Forest”, spanning more than 0.5 hectares; with trees higher than 5 meters and a canopy cover of 5-10 percent, or trees able to reach these thresholds; or with a combined cover of shrubs, bushes and trees above 10 percent. It does not include land that is predominantly under agricultural or urban land use.
11 FAO (2015) Forest Global Assessment Report http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4808e.pdf
12 The Russian Federation Forest Sector Outlook Study to 2030, FAO, 2012. http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i3020e/i3020e00.pdf
13 Environment Russia presentation (2015) https://prezi.com/teb-d2p3zncb/environment-russia/
14 Naturvernforbundet Norge (2015) http://naturvernforbundet.no/international/environmental-issues-in-russia/category930.html
18 4 billion rubles is approximately US$ 62 million using Sept 2016 exchange rate
20 WWF (2013): Illegal logging in the Russian Far East: global demand and taiga destruction. http://www.worldwildlife.org/publications/illegal-logging-in-the-russian-far-east-global-demand-and-taiga-destruction
About Forest Resources
This section provides an overview of the country's forest cover and a list of species found naturally and on plantations.
Historically, forest management in Russia under the Soviet Union has followed a centralized, top-down decision making process, with planning harvests frequently unrelated to actual growth/yield. In the first half of the 20th century, practices of unsustainable harvesting were common, in some cases undertaken by forced labor in prison camps.1 Since 1992, political and economic reforms in the Russian Federation have illustrated the slow transition of the forest sector to adapt to a market economy framework.2 In 1993 forest management was decentralized to local government authorities.3 Since then forest management has been centralized and decentralized several times: the Forest Code in 1997 transferred management function related to forest land to government authorities, the Federal Law no. 122 in 2004 centralized forest management and transferred forest management functions to federal executive bodies, and lastly in 2006, the Forest Code 2006 decentralized forest management and transferred forest land management to government authorities). These changes were most likely the result of the unstable position of the federal executive body within forest relations (the federal forest agency moved to work under different ministries 4 times between 2000 and 2012). Instability of legal regulation governing forest relations is a challenge for the sector, though all forests are state-owned and managed.4
The current Forest Code5 of the Russian Federation was approved in December 2006 and came into force January 1, 2007. It became clear that the code still required amendments and an amendment to the Forest Code was approved in December 2010. It decentralized forest management and transferred state supervisory functions related to forest land to government authorities of the Federal Subjects (of which there are 83 or 85 (as the 2 most recently added subjects are internationally recognized as part of Ukraine), consisting of republics, krais/oblasts (provinces6), cities of federal importance, an autonomous oblast, and autonomous okrugs7(all of which are equal) of the Russian Federation.8 The 2010 version of the Forest Code, and its changes came as a result of the 2010 forest fires. The new code therefore aims to improve the protection of forests from fires, as well as resolve issues due to logging in protected forests, management of urban forests and illegal logging.9 There have been six amendments since 2010 to the Forest Code, but these have been small and language based (see the laws section).
The Forest Code is still questioned by many NGOs (including WWF Russia, Greenpeace, the Biodiversity Conservation Center and the Russian Bird Conservation Union), most notably with regards to the scope of the legislation, public involvement in the management of forests and the conservation of species.10 Although these NGOs put forward amendment suggestions to federal authorities, not all of the suggested changes (such as improving the scope of forestry legislation) were taken onboard.11 In September 2013, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev decreed a new National State Forest Policy which defined principles, goals and tasks related to forest use, conservation, protection and regeneration.12 This provides overall policy guidance and takes a critical step to modernize the country’s regulatory framework for forest practices by creating enabling conditions to consider social and environmental criteria in forest management. Through a high-level working group, the policy allows for new methods to calculate Annual Allowable Cut (based on sustainable yield), added the concept of ‘heritage forests’ into planning to protect intact forest landscapes and harmonized Russian forest policy overall with other international forest certification standards.13
As part of its 2013 forest policy, the Russian Federation stated its intent to develop the domestic market for timber products, focus on investment in value-added forest-based products, and improve the competitiveness of the Russian forest industry by 2030. Interest rate subsidies on loans have been granted to organizations implementing investment projects aimed at developing high technology manufacturing facilities.14
In terms of the forestry institutions in place, since May 2012 the Federal Forestry Agency has reported to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology. Before this, it reported to the Ministry of Agriculture (2010-2012) and before that, the Ministry of Natural Resources. The Ministry of Economic Development and Trade was also involved with the drafting of the Forest Code as early as 2002, and this led to a number of drafts of the code as the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade supposedly focused more on industry needs as opposed to the protections and sustainable forest management outlined by the Ministry of Natural Resources.15
Current tasks of the Federal Forestry Agency include:16
- Control and supervision in the area of forest relations, except for forests in protected areas17;
- Rendering public services; and
- Management of state assets in the area of forest relations (management of state owned forests, except those within a protected area).
The Federal Forestry Agency undertakes the following services:
- State forest inventory and forest husbandry;
- Forest pathology monitoring;
- Seed growing;
- Aerial forest fire protection operations;
- Scientific research; and
- Additional vocational education.
These services are provided by institutions and enterprises subordinated to the Federal Forestry Agency or through tenders on the basis of state purchase. The Federal Forestry Agency does not have territorial bodies in the subjects of the Russian Federation. Federal plenary powers in the area of forest relations at the regional level are implemented through forestry departments in eight federal districts and the 83 (or 85) federal subjects of the Russian Federation.18
The following plenary powers have been transferred to government authorities of the subjects of the Russian Federation:
- Elaboration and validation of forest plans, legal forestry regulations, implementation of state expertise on forest exploitation projects;
- Lease and concession of forest parcels, conclusion of contracts for purchase and sale of wood stock, organization and carrying out of wood auctions;
- Issuance of permits for undertaking geological works on forest land;
- Organization of management, conservation, protection and regeneration of forests;
- Maintenance of state forest register;
- Implementation of federal forest supervision; and
- Establishment of lists of officials authorized to perform federal forest supervision.
These plenary powers are implemented by state structures within the bodies of executive power of the subjects of the Russian Federation. At the field level, the structures are represented by forestry districts.19
In Russia, 100% of forests are publicly owned.20 Private business carries out forest management in accordance with lease contracts. According to the Forest Code, forest parcels are conceded in tenancy to legal and natural persons in accordance with:
- Lease contracts for the period of 10 to 49 years, otherwise
- In accordance with contracts for the purchase and sale of wood stands for a period not exceeding one year.
Contracts for the purchase and sale of wood stock are mainly directed at forest use for local needs and meeting the wood demand of the local rural population. Rights to conclude forest parcel lease contracts and contracts for purchase and sale of wood stands are acquired by legal and natural persons through wood auctions.21 An exception is made for priority investment projects, which are subject to selection and validation through a tendering procedure. Priority investment projects are considered to be those related to the setting up and modernization of wood-processing infrastructure to the amount of no less than 300 million rubles. The Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation keeps records of investment forest projects aimed at innovative development of the forest sector, but these do not seem to be publicly available. Tenants carry out forestry operations on leased land accounting for over 14 percent of forest estate land. Authorized unitary enterprises and autonomous entities carry out forestry operations on unleased land.22
Leasing state-owned forests has not proven a functional mechanism. For companies, the procedure is very bureaucratic and the maximum lease period of 49 years (imposed under the Forest Code in 1997)23 creates uncertainty about the future. The authorities are dissatisfied with the profitability-driven approach of the leaseholders, in which harvesting is the priority, but only minimal effort is put into managing forests and the results are often questionable. Nearly 12,000 companies have leased forests for harvesting purposes, and this apparent lack of effort means some research institutes (such as the Finnish Forest Research Institute) question if all companies are fully compliant with the law.24
The consequences of the instability in the forest legislation and institutional structures can be seen in the forests. Extensive clearcutting, poor regeneration and inadequate improvement cutting of high value species has led to forest management issues, and a shortage of commercially valuable trees.25
In the attempt to satisfy its timber supply needs, more forest areas have been allocated to forestry use. The pressure to cut down virgin forests and protected forest areas keeps increasing. Longer transport distances have increased the costs of harvesting, and there are problems with availability of coniferous sawlogs in particular. Market pressures are forcing businesses to seek a solution for enhancing wood supply.26
At present, Russian forest-sector actors, including politicians, are unanimous about the need to switch to intensive forestry in previously managed forests. This approach is based on long-term planning of forest management aimed at efficient wood production.27 Evidence of actions being taken to improve forestry in Russia can be found, for example with the 2013 Forest Policy.
From the viewpoint of forest users, implementation of the intensive forestry approach is impeded by forest management guidelines which cover the whole country and do not take account of special regional features or forest stand properties. Forest management is regulated by various guidelines, which are unconnected to one another and often difficult to implement in practice.28
Illegal logging, trade, and export of timber from Russia is seen as a significant issue. Many investigations have found illegal trade in timber across the Russia - China border. For example, in October 2015, Lumber Liquidators (a large hardwood flooring company based in the USA) pleaded guilty to importing timber into the United States via China, which was illegally harvested from the Russian Far East.29
The Transparency International’s (TI) corruption perception index (CPI) measures perceived levels of public-sector corruption, on a scale of 0-100 (0 = 100% corruption and 100 = no corruption). For 2014 Russia scored 27/100 on the corruption perception index, which indicates a high level of corruption in the country. It ranked 136 out of 175 countries assessed in 2014. In 2015, Russia’s score improved slightly to 29/100, and it ranked 119 out of the 167 countries assessed.30
The result of the CPI is supported by the World Bank’s set of Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) for all world economies. These indicators are an important barometer in terms of risk assessment. The WGI country reports are based on the six following aggregate governance indicators: Voice and Accountability, Political Stability and Absence of Violence, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law, and Control of Corruption. Countries are ranked (percentile rank model) for each of the six governance indicators on a scale from 0 to 100 where 0 corresponds to lowest rank and 100 corresponds to highest rank (better governance).
In 2014, Russia scored 20.2 in Voice and Accountability; 18.4 in Political Stability and Absence of Violence; 44.7 in Government Effectiveness; 51.4 in Regulatory Quality; 26.4 in Rule of Law; and 19.7 in Control of Corruption.31
Corruption is a major issue in the forestry sector with many public purchases and contracts as well as other services undertaken for the government or state-owned enterprises frequently involving bribes and kickbacks. According to the Institute of Modern Russia think tank, it is estimated that corruption could amount to anything between 3.5% to 48% of the Russian GDP.32
1 Pryde (1991) Environmental Management in the Soviet Union https://books.google.co.uk/books?isbn=0521409055
2 Edited by Eric Hansen, Rajat Panwar, Richard Vlosky (2014) The Global Forest Sector: Changes, Practices and Prospects https://www.crcpress.com/The-Global-Forest-Sector-Changes-Practices-and-Prospects/Hansen-Panwar-Vlosky/p/book/9781439879276
4 FAO (2012): The Russian Federation Forest Sector Outlook Study to 2030. http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i3020e/i3020e00.pdf
6 In Soviet times, Oblasts could be autonomous and could be subordinated to Republics or Krais. In modern times there are no differences.
7 These are federal subjects in their own right, yet are also considered to be administrative divisions of other federal subjects
8 WWF (2015): The Forest Code and NGOs. Suggestions for its improvement http://www.wwf.ru/about/what_we_do/forests/codecs/eng
9 WWF Russia http://wwf.ru/resources/news/article/7662
10 WWF (2015): The Forest Code and NGOs. Suggestions for its improvement http://www.wwf.ru/about/what_we_do/forests/codecs/eng
11 WWF Russia http://www.wwf.ru/about/what_we_do/forests/codecs/eng
12 FAO (2013) Assessment of Forest Policy and Forest Industry Policy in the Russian Far East http://eastagri.org/meetings/docs/meeting100/Forest%20Policy%20and%20Timber%20Industry%20Policy%20in%20Russia.pdf
13 FSC (2013): FSC Helps to Shape New Russian Forest Policy. https://ic.fsc.org/en/news/id/541
14 The Russian Federation Forest Sector Outlook Study to 2030, FAO, 2012. http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i3020e/i3020e00.pdf
15 Nysten-Haarala (2007) The changing governance of Renewable Natural Resources in Northwest Russia https://books.google.com/books?id=kG3eCwAAQBAJ&lpg=PT94&ots=tUs2OnJWjz&dq=Nysten-Haarala%20(2007)%20The%20changing%20governance%20of%20Renewable%20Natural%20Resources%20in%20Northwest%20Russia&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
16 The Russian Federation Forest Sector Outlook Study to 2030, FAO, 2012. http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i3020e/i3020e00.pdf
17 These protected areas are under the regulation of the Federal Supervisory Natural Resources Management service, another agency of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
18 The Russian Federation Forest Sector Outlook Study to 2030, FAO, 2012. http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i3020e/i3020e00.pdf
19 The Russian Federation Forest Sector Outlook Study to 2030, FAO, 2012. http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i3020e/i3020e00.pdf
20 PEFC (2016), http://www.pefc.org/forest-issues/who-owns-the-forest
21 The Russian Federation Forest Sector Outlook Study to 2030, FAO, 2012. http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i3020e/i3020e00.pdf
22 The Russian Federation Forest Sector Outlook Study to 2030, FAO, 2012. http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i3020e/i3020e00.pdf
23 Uusivuori (1999) World Forest, Society and Environment https://books.google.co.uk/books?isbn=9401147469
24 METLA (2014): Russia eager to switch from wood harvesting to forest management. http://www.metla.fi/uutiskirje/bulletin/2014-01/news2.htm
25 The Moscow Times (2014), https://themoscowtimes.com/articles/russia-is-running-out-of-forest-39951
26 The Moscow Times (2014), https://themoscowtimes.com/articles/russia-is-running-out-of-forest-39951
27 METLA (2014): Russia eager to switch from wood harvesting to forest management. http://www.metla.fi/uutiskirje/bulletin/2014-01/news2.htm
28 METLA (2014): Russia eager to switch from wood harvesting to forest management. http://www.metla.fi/uutiskirje/bulletin/2014-01/news2.htm
30 Transparency International (2015): Corruption Perception Index 2014 https://www.transparency.org/cpi2014/results
31 Word Bank (2015) Worldwide Governance indicators http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/index.aspx#countryReports
32 Institute of Modern Russia (2013): http://imrussia.org/en/society/376-corruption-in-russia-as-a-business
About Forest Management
This section provides an overview of the country's forest management, transparency indicators, CITES Agreement information as it applies to the country, and relevant laws and regulations (i.e. forestry laws, processing/manufacturing laws, trade laws, tax laws, and transport laws).
The total area of forested land in the Russian Federation is 814.9 million hectares (ha), and forests occupy over half of the land area. According to FAO (2015) the country has 415 million ha of production forest, 212 million ha protection forest, and 178 million ha of multiple use forest.1
Although Russia accounts for over 20% of the world forests, its share of world forest products trade is below 4%.2 The private sector has been slow to adapt to new market requirements from economic reforms in the last two decades, and forest production is not a political priority. The 2014 State of the World’s Forests (SOWF) report3 estimates that the forest sector in Russia generates US$ 13,075,000, contributing 0.8% to the GDP, and employing about 600,000 people, or 0.8% of the labor force.
According to a 2013 FAO report4, in 2010 the Russian domestic market consumed almost 61% of the national forest sector production, with the remaining 39% being exported. The chemical and mechano-chemical wood-processing sectors consumed 21% of the amount of harvested wood, which is much lower than other countries with highly developed forest sectors (the USA for example consumed 76% and Finland 84%). The report also states that in 2014 Russia imported US $2.17 million of paper and paperboard to meet domestic demand; the overall value of imported forest products in that year amounted to US $16.6 billion.
Gross forest products export revenues amounted to US $9.5 billion in 2010, according to the above mentioned 2013 FAO report. Semi-processed round wood and sawn wood made up over 54% of Russian exported wood products. In 2012, the export value of plywood was approximately US$890,000, US$3.19 million of sawnwood and US$1.189 million of industrial roundwood. Export is mainly to China, Egypt and the US. Russia is now the main source of China’s sawnwood (valued at $7.5 billion USD in 2015) and log imports (valued at $1.2 billion USD in 2015).5
By September 2016, 42.1 million ha of Russian forests had been certified under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) scheme6, while 11.5 million ha had been certified under the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) by June 2016.7,8
Commercially important timber species
The main commercial timber species include common pine (Pinus), Siberian stone pine (Pinus pumila), Norway spruce (Picea abies), Siberian spruce (Picea obovata), Sukachev’s larch (Larix sukacewii), Siberian larch (Larix sibirica), Dahurian larch (Larix gmelinii), Siberian fir (Abies sibirica), white birch (Betula papyrifera), weeping birch (Betula pendula youngii), and aspen (Populus tremula).9
2 SRAS (2013) http://www.sras.org/russia_forest_sector_wto
5 UN Comtrade database (2016)
8 PEFC June 2016 Global Statistics http://www.pefc.org/images/documents/PEFC_Global_Certificates_-_June_2016.pdf
About Forest Products
This section provides an overview of the country's forest production and product trade.
The Russian Forestry Review while not a traditional industry association, is a downloadable magazine aimed at international companies who are interested in the Russian timber market. This includes information on legislation, risks and challenges and major investment projects. The most recent review was completed in 2015 and all 6 issues can be found here.
Contact: Phone: +7 (812) 640-98-68 Email: email@example.com
Civil Society Organizations
In November 2012 Russia passed a law regarding NGOs that received financial support from outside of Russia. Any NGO that receives foreign funding and takes part in political activity (such as lobbying) must register with the Justice Ministry as ‘foreign agents’. Beginning in June 2014 the Ministry of Justice has been authorized to apply the label to organizations without their consent. This is a controversial law and some activists are concerned that the ‘foreign agent’ label will limit the amount of work they can do, potentially leading to a lack of independent non-profits. This has also led to 22 NGOs shutting down between June 2014 and August 2016.1
WWF Russia, which was established as an independent WWF office in 1994, focuses on conservation through sustainable management of forests, creating protected areas and informing communities of endangered species. They have information on the Far East temperate forests; the Urals Taiga forests; the Eastern Siberian Taiga; and the Kamchatka Taiga.
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Greenpeace Russia was initially set up as an office in 1989, but was renamed Greenpeace Russia in 1992. A second branch was opened in Saint Petersburg in 2001. The NGO is a global campaigning organisation focusing on conservation and the environment. To remain independent, they do not accept funding from governments or corporations. Greenpeace Russia use nonviolence and active protect to draw attention to ecological crimes and inform the public and in Russia the group currently has approximately 5,000 supporters.
Siberian Environmental Centre is a regional charitable non-governmental organization that was officially founded in October 1999 and received the legal status on 24th February 2000. SibEcoCenter works in the area of the Novosibirsk region, the Altaisk region and the Republic of Altai. The organization’s work has two main directions; projects that are directly related to the conservation of nature, and projects with a social approach that aim to inform and educate the public about current environmental concerns. This organization was allocated “foreign agent” status in 2015.
The Biodiversity Conservation Centre (BCC) works to restore and protect natural habitat across Northern Eurasia. This is achieved through conservation programs and projects; consulting on conservation initiatives; promoting partnership between Russian and overseas environmental organisations; developing efficient fundraising mechanisms and improving the management of protected areas.
Contact email: email@example.com
The Bellona Foundation is an independent non-profit organization that aims to meet and fight the climate challenges, through identifying and implementing sustainable environmental solutions. Bellona-Murmansk shut down due to its foreign agent status in 2015.2
Friends of the Siberian Forests (FSF) is a Krasnoyarsk-based non-governmental environmental organisation dedicated to the protection of the Siberian taiga (boreal) forests. Contact details and website address not available. Named as a foreign agent in October 2015.
Russian Social-Ecological Union / Friends of the Earth Russia is a non-governmental non-profit membership democratic organisation, established in 1992. RSEU brings together public organisations and active citizens from all regions of Russia. All RSEU activities - projects and programs, actions and campaigns – are aimed at nature conservation, protection of health and the wellbeing of people in Russia and around the world.
This section provides a list of local contacts who can serve as sources of further information, including industry associations, civil society organizations and government ministries.
Tools & Resources
About Tools & Resources
This section directs you to useful and relevant tools and resources, developed by WRI, our partners or other organizations, that provide more information about the country.
Laws & Regulations
Please note that many of these laws are in Russian only, where possible a link to an English language summary has been provided.
The Federal Forestry Agency of the Russian Federation is responsible for forest policy, formulation and legal regulation in regards to the conservation, regeneration and utilization of forests. The agency also provides information on forest fires and illegal logging. The main orders of the Federal Forest Agency include Order no. 1 of the Federal Forest Agency which is designed to regulate afforestation of land to prevent water, wind and soil erosion, and are defined as protection forests. Order no. 47 of the Federal Forest Agency sets out the forms of reports that should be submitted, including forest management, protection, conservation and afforestation; forest uses; protection and afforestation.
The Russian Forest Code (2006) is the main forestry law of the Russian Federation. The code was implemented in 2006 with the aim of establishing a stronger legal foundation to further develop the forestry sector within Russia. Specifically, the code aimed to increase the processing capacity. Some NGOs felt that the code did not go far enough to outline good practice in forest management, and there have been 10 amendments to date, the most recent of which was June 2015. The code defines ownership, use and renewal of forest resources as well as protections. The Act has 16 chapters made of 109 Articles. The code states that public forest can be leased for established periods. Forest types are classified into protection forests, production forest and reserve forests.
Since 2007, forest renewal operations are managed by each region within Russia. Federal budget is earmarked for use on areas that are damaged through forest fire, adverse factors or areas which haven’t been leased out (Regional Law no. 132-PK, 2013). The code has been criticized for decentralising forest management. Many regions did not submit a forest management plan when requested, those which did had their plans rejected (usually for minor errors in their finance calculations). Furthermore, there was no penalty for regions which did not provide a forestry plan when requested (Hitchcock, 2011).
Regional Law no. 12-ZKO “On delimitation of plenary powers between state bodies in the sphere of forest relations" (2011) establishes the powers of regional government in relation to forestry, including “law making; ownership, management and disposal of forest plots; establishment of the functional zones in urban recreational forests; establishment of rates of payment for timber extraction and fore lease of plots of public forest; establishment of modalities for conclusion of contracts with citizens for purchase and sale of forest species and organisation of forest fire prevention arrangements”.
The Russian Roundwood Act is a key amendment that was made to the Russian Forest Code in December 2013. The law sets out requirements across the timber process, including documentation, marking, registration and transportation of roundwood. The law has been implemented in four stages. From July 2014 roundwood required transportation documentation, from January 2015 logs of valuable hardwoods required markings and from July 2015 roundwood sales were required to be declared in an open source database. From January 2016, penalties were implemented for non-compliance with the law concerning the roundwood transaction declaration.
It has been suggested that Russia has weak forest governance, both by a speech made by President Vladimir Putin in 2013 and various high profile reports published by NGOs such as the Environmental Investigation Agency. While laws such as the Roundwood Act seek to change this weakness, it is important that implementation of legislation is considered and that due diligence good practice adhered to.
Article 14 of the Russian Forest Code relates to forest-processing infrastructure. To process timber and other forest products, processing infrastructure should be established. However, section 2 of the Article states that processing infrastructure shall not be established in protection forests or other cases specified in law. Order number 517 of the Federal Forest Agency states that unforested land, plots of non-renewable cutting areas and wasteland should be used as a priority basis for these activities.
Russia is unusual in regard to securing forest rights compared to other countries. In Russia the rights to use forest parcels is linked to a specific forest use. For example, a citizen may have the right to harvest wood, but not the cultivation of forest fruits or berries. The full list of activities that are permitted can be found in Article 25 of the Forest Code.
Article 72 of the Forest Code contains information on the lease agreement for a publicly-owned or municipally-owned forest parcel. For a forest parcel to be leased it must go through the state cadastral registration. The lease can last from 10 to 49 years, and this is dependent on the period of the permitted forest use specified in the forest management plan. If the lessee used the land with respect for due diligence and good practice, upon the leases expiration the lessee will have preferential rights for beginning a new period of lease.
Forest use for processing of wood and other forest resources is outlined in Article 46. Section 2 states that publicly-owned or municipally-owned forest parcels shall be leased out to citizens for processing timber. The authorised federal executive body shall be responsible for establishing and monitoring forest use rules for processing wood and other forest products.
Wood harvesting law is outlined in Article 29. The harvesting of timber is permitted in production forests and protection forests unless stated in federal law. Dead, damaged and over-mature timber will be the first to be made available for harvesting (see also Regional Law No. 131-GD). Allowable cutting volumes may not be exceeded, and cutting cannot take place until trees reach the minimum age. The minimum age is calculated by the federal executive body which is also responsible for calculating the amount of allowable cut. A list of the tree and shrub species which are banned from being harvested shall be made and updated by the Russian Federation Government (Order number 513). Rules for wood harvesting shall be established by the federal executive body. Powers of public authorities in the area of forest relations are also covered under Article 81.
The European Union Timber Regulation obligates operators and traders both inside the EU and those importing into the EU to ensure that all timber traded is from a legal source. This is achieved through the implementation a due diligence system.
Article 29 Section 8 of the Forestry Code states that citizens may harvest wood under a lease agreement, each forest parcel [section] would require a separate agreement if a citizen wishes to harvest from multiple parcels. If timber is harvested without allocation of forest parcels, then citizens must harvest under a sale-purchase contract for forest stands.
Chapter 7 of the Forestry Code outlines sale-purchase contracts in detail. Article 75 states that a sales-purchase contract is used to sell forest stands (publicly owned or municipally owned). The contract must state the specific location of the forest stands and the volume of wood to be harvested. A technological map of the area is required as well as a felling area allocation plan and a spreadsheet of financials and material assessment of the felling area. A post logging report on the forest use and regeneration is needed. Payment under the sale-purchase contract will at a minimum be the timber volume unit rate multiplied by the volume of timber to be harvested. The unit rate is set by the Russian government. The rights to work land may be auctioned: the conditions for such an auction are laid out in Articles 79 and 80.
Regional Law no 2859-OZ aims to prevent illegal logging by establishing requirements for receiving, storing, processing and shipping timber. Timber must be registered using a certificate of delivery of timber and an account ledger. Timber must be accompanied by a personal identity document from the supplier; a copy of purchase and sale contract of forest species and (if the supplier is not a timber logger) copy of a document demonstrating ownership of timber.
Section 7 of Article 29 of the Forest Code gives citizens the right to construct forest roads and other structures and facilities for the purpose of wood harvesting.
As forest regulation is decentralised, transport of timber is subject to regional law. Regional law no. 59-RZ “On organisation of collection and shipping point for timber” establishes requirements that timber must meet to be accepted and transported. Incoming timber must be accompanied by a forest parcel lease contract, forest declaration and timber inspection act documents (Ministerial Decree No. 571). Timber must be registered and recorded in a registration log. Each shipping/collection point must give monthly declarations of the timber that has been accepted. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in being charged with an offense as established in Regional Law 93-OZ e.g. failing to submit a monthly declaration of timber traded.
Regional law No. 398-KZ which came into force January 2014 establishes regulation of internal trade of timber. This includes principles on openness and transparency, though citizens procuring timber for individual/personal needs are exempt.
CITES Agreement Information
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement among governments whose purpose is to ensure that international trade in wild animal and plant species does not threaten the survival of these species. A total of 181 countries have agreed to the CITES regulations, which is a legally binding agreement. It is up to each Party of CITES to draft its own domestic legislation in order to comply with its CITES obligations.
Russia acceded to and ratified the Convention in 1992.1
The over-harvesting of Korean pine for its timber and edible seeds or “pine nuts” that are used in the food processing industry has resulted in a dramatic loss of habitat for the Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica). There has been a ban on logging Korean pine in the Russian Federation territories since 20102 to assist the conservation of this species, which depends on the pine forests for its key habitat. Live plants and seed of cultivated varieties of this species are found in international trade and are for sale on the Internet. Russia is the biggest exporter of these Korean pine products and the main importers are China (mainland and Hong Kong SAR) and Japan.3
For more information about CITES species in Russia, their status and trade names please consult:
A Guide to CITES listed tree species, 2015 http://www.daba.gov.lv/upload/File/Publikacijas/NOT_CITES_koki_EN.pdf
Laws & Regulations
This section provides a list of local contacts who can serve as sources of further information, including industry associations, civil society organizations and government ministries.