conifer forest in the Altai Mountains. © Seth Judd
conifer forest in the Altai Mountains. © Seth Judd

Hope for the Taiga

Aug 2008

There has been a lot of concern for the Russian Taiga, particularly since the change in Russian forestry law in early 2007 in many respects puts timber trade well above conservation.

On the other hand, since 2004 a number of Russian institutions became concerned that the value of the Siberian forest was not properly understood. They looked to the certification schemes of the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) but then teamed up with a number of UK groups* to create an action plan. In 2005, Darwin Initiative funding was gained, and with The Tree Council initially taking the lead, a three-year project began.

* The Tomsk Taiga project involved The Tree Council, the British Trust for Ornithology, Cambridge University Expeditions Society, Pricebatch (Altai-UK), Traidcraft and WTA Education Services Ltd.

Since then, the Kaltaiskii Forest in the Tomsk province has been designated as a model for FSC application, and six further sites within the area are in the process of being given Special Protected Area status. FSC principles are being applied to the Forest Plan of the Tomsk region.

Other targets include identifying areas of high biodiversity to gain further protection, to carry out ecological surveys and monitoring, to support the existing community-based harvesting of sustainable forest products, to raise awareness of the value of the forest, and to develop eco-tourism.
The Taiga, also known as boreal forest, is a belt of dominantly coniferous forest which makes up a third of the world’s total forest area. The term is Russian, but this type of forest covers large regions of North America, Europe and Russia/Siberia itself. The main trees are conifers like spruce (Picea), fir (Abies), pine (Pinus) and larch (Larix), with a few deciduous trees like alder and aspen.

source: TreeNews, Issue 15, Autumn/Winter 2008, 26-7

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