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POBEDITELI  Soldiers of the Great War

Priorities of Investment Support when Reforming the Forest Management and Forest Use Systems in Russia: A View of Non-governmental Organizations

Materials to the Round Table May 21 2002

1. For two years after completion of the preparations of the World Bank Pilot Project on Sustainable Forest Use, a number of serious changes took place, which should be accounted prior to the project implementation:

  • Professional, administrative and moral level of forest management sharply degraded;
  • The system of nature protection has been ruined with practical liquidation of the systems of environment impact assessment and independent environmental control;
  • Criminalization totally penetrated (up to the highest management levels) forest sectors of some regions and branches of industries (wood exports from the Russian Far East and Northern Caucasus, furniture trade);
  • Irresponsibility and closeness of work of forest management and nature protection systems increased, especially well seen at the federal level.

2. With respect to this, the Component A of the Pilot Project should be seriously strengthened to counteract more effectively the indicated negative tendencies.

3. General directions of project layout improvement should be:

  • Simplification of the project structure to concentrate funds only on priority directions;
  • The analysis of the economic efficiency of activities proposed for financing using objective and open control of this parameter;
  • In order to provide the objective control and evaluation of project results, a periodic (not less than once every half a year) independent auditing should be performed under lead of the Ministry of Economic Development and/or Ministry of Finances with participation of nongovernmental environmental organizations;
  • Increase of the transparency and speed of project implementation, particularly by clearly defining official persons in charge and by annual public reporting on project implementation over the period under consideration.

4. Subcomponents A.1 Forest Policy Improvement ($4,0 million) and .5 Replication of the Forest Policy and Forest Management Reforms ($3,1 million) should be implemented only after the Ministry of Natural Resources will make public its plans on sector's reforms and their discussion with participation of all interested parties. The obligatory condition for financing these activities should be auditing and public reporting on the use of budget money by the ministry during the last three years. All measures should be undertaken within the framework of the project to avoid double payment of work, which was already implemented using other financial sources. When implementing these components, a special attention should be paid to criminal problems of the Russian forest sector and measures on their solution.

5. Subcomponent A.2. Forest Management Information Systems and Land-use Planning Improvement ($6,5 million).

The priority should be given not to solving of specific problems and financing of routine technical modernization but to development of the forest monitoring system, especially regarding globally important parameters (forest fires, intact forests) and general information on infrastructure of the country's forest sector.

In addition, it is necessary to create a system permitting operative monitoring of economically and environmentally significant changes in the structure of the State Forest Fund by regions and leskhozes (forest dynamics by accessibility categories, including tax areas, growing stock and site quality classes; the share if forests temporarily inaccessible for exploitation due to forest contiguity conditions or recent selective cuts; forest dynamics along existing roads etc.). All interested parties should have free access to all this information.

6. Implementation of the Subcomponent A.3. Improvement of Regional Systems of Forest Conservation and Protection ($22,5 million) should start only after the analysis of the efficiency of finances earlier spent for these purposes and of proposed activities. The means should be re-distributed in accordance with real urgency of problems under consideration among model regions.

The priority should be given not to expensive technical measures but to development of efficient interaction among state agencies (among Ministry of Emergency Situations, Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Communications, local and regional authorities), introduction of efficient monitoring and prevention systems (patrolling, forest fire management), social care of affected persons, development of the forest fire insurance system and making agreements on its basis with fire service on measures of fire extinction and protection.

7. Subcomponent A.4. Improvement of Regional Forest Regeneration Systems ($7,4 million).

There should be open and reliable analysis of economic efficiency of the proposed technological solutions regarding already well developed technological solutions (seedlings in containers). If their use is economically highly efficient then it should be introduced on commercial basis. Otherwise the reasons for wide-scale introduction of this technology will remain unclear.

The priority in this component should be given to an alternative approach in forest regeneration - wide scale use of selective logging, which is much more efficient and cheaper while simultaneously provides faster forest regeneration.



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