Greenpeace Russia has started to collect signatures for a letter addressed to the Russian president, which demands re-establishment of state forest protection that would be a federal service, organizationally and financially independent from other state organs that deal with forest resource use, and would involve adequate number of staff (no less than 20 thousand inspectors). Such number of federal inspectors would mean operational groups of three people for each forest management unit in the regions of the country that are inhabited and accessible to transportation.
Collection of signatures will continue until September 2009, after which the letter will be handed over to president Medvedev. Every effort in helping to collect signatures is welcomed. The letter can be signed on the Greenpeace Russia website, and people are encouraged to ask all their friends and relatives to participate, too. The more signatures the appeal to the president includes, the more likely it is that the forest protection service will be established.
At the moment the leaders of the country do not recognize that the demolition of federal forest protection has led to catastrophic consequences for Russia’s forests. Illegal logging has steeply increased, forest fires have become more frequent, forested land is being freely acquired for personal use and the amount of illegal dumping sites in the forest is increasing. Conclusions from the year 2009 about the growing problems will inevitably seriously undermine the rationality of the reform carried out in the forest sector, initiated and directly supported by the Russian government. The end of this year will prove suitable time for suggesting improvements in the sector. One of the most important improvements that need to be brought up for discussion is the re-establishment of federal forest protection service.
The argument most often used against the re-establishment of the forest protection system is that as long as it existed (until the beginning of 2005), the protection service was mainly concerned with timber production under the pretext of thinning and sanitary logging, and not so much with actual forest protection. There are, however, a few objections to this: Firstly, even under the not-so-ideal organization of the service, the forests were not as badly or downright unmanaged as they are now. Secondly, the forest protection system will be effective only when protection is its only concern and when its employees receive their salary not from selling timber but from protection efforts. This is why we propose re-establishment of the forest protection service as a governmental service, organizationally and financially independent from the governmental organs responsible for forest resource use.
Our collective letter to the Russian president will not be a panacea and will not guarantee that the arguments put forth in it will lead to the re-establishment of the forest protection system as we see fit. However, as Greenpeace Russia’s experience has shown, such letters draw attention and really help in making the government aware of this or that issue, and in this case of the degradation of Russia’s forests due to demolition of the state forest protection service.
The letter to the Russian president about the need to re-establish the state forest protection service and the list of signatures
Sign the letter on the Greenpeace Russia website