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СообщениеДобавлено: 01 июн 2016, 17:30 
Татьяна Хакимулина, сотрудник Гринпис

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One of the principles of FSC forest certification is the sustainable use of forest resources within the Management Unit as defined by sustained yield. In the previous version of the FSC Standard the sustained yield requirement was described in Criterion 5.6 “The rate of harvest of forest products shall not exceed levels which can be permanently sustained”, while in the latest version – by 5.2 “The Organization shall normally harvest products and services from the Management Unit at or below a level which can be permanently sustained.” This is a very important requirement: the sustainable use of forests determines not only the socially-economic viability of the logging companies and forest settlements, but also impacts future threat levels to high conservation value forests that are currently protected or voluntarily set aside. If the adjacent forests are depleted and degraded as a result of a mismanagement, then at some point the logging company would have to decide whether to stop logging and close its mill or to find a way to log high conservation value forests, which are supposed to be permanently protected. Therefore, sustainable harvest rates are essential for a company to be able to protect high conservation value forests in the long-term.

Despite the importance of sustainable harvest rates, unfortunately there is not yet a comprehensive evaluation of sustained yield under FSC certification. FSC in Russia has developed the “express-method of sustained yield estimation for the management unit for the purposes of FSC certification (for boreal and semi-boreal zone with dominance of mature and over-mature forest stands)”. However unfortunately this express-method is not a requirement, but is only recommendation, and is almost never applied. This can be clearly seen through management results. It is likely not necessary to apply this method everywhere – there are areas where the rate of forest use does not exceed sustainable level (especially in regions with a long history of forest management, where the logging intensity is significantly limited by the forest age structure and species composition). However, there are areas, where the risk of forest depletion is very high due to intensive logging (“woodmining”) and great losses of forests due to fires and other disasters. The latest is especially typical in the wild taiga forests, where forest use in reality is more alike the mining for non-renewable natural resources (oil, gas and other), than classic forest management.

To help identify the areas where the amount of harvesting combined with other forest losses may exceed the sustainable level, Greenpeace Russia has produced the map of the estimated stand replacement return intervals (SRRI) in the Northern forests.

The map in PDF format: Stand Replacement Return Intervals in the Northern Forests in 2000-2013. Greenpeace Russia, 2016.
The detailed map methodology is described here.

The map allows the detection of areas, where the intensity of forest use (as well as forest losses as a result of fires, windthrow, insects and other disasters) exceeds sustainable levels (or may be sustained only with intensive silviculture). In other words, the map shows the “hotspots” of possible forest degradation as a result of overexploitation and/or excessive forest loss due to natural or semi-natural reasons (fires etc.). The calculation unit for the map was a one hundred thousand ha circle or “moving window”. The value in each pixel of the map, calculated with this moving window, represents the stand replacement return interval based on all data falling into the one hundred thousand ha circle built around this pixel. Thus these “hotspots” represent not the local overexploitation at the scale of single forest stand, but at the scale of a 17.84 km radius (100,000 ha). Often these “hotspots” cover substantial parts of forest management units or even the management units completely.

If such “hotspot” areas, where the estimated stand replacement return intervals are comparable or less than the harvest rotation periods, are within FSC-certified forest management units, auditors must ensure that there is truly compliance with FSC requirements on sustained yield.

As an urgent priority, certification bodies and stakeholders, which control the quality and results of FSC certification, must inspect those certified areas that overlap with the SRRI “hotspots”. The “hotspots” are not ultimate evidence of overexploitation, but indicate with a very high probability that overexploitation occurred from 2000 to 2013. The probability is slightly lower for the areas with moderate stand replacement return intervals (yellow and orange colors on the map) and higher for the small SRRI values. The red and dark-brown colors falling into the borders of FSC-certified FMU clearly indicate the loss of forest cover because of logging or natural and semi-natural reasons (separately or cumulatively) is too high, and that sustainable harvest rates are not being applied.

The proposed map does not reflect the distribution of forests by dominant tree species, productivity and other qualitative forest characteristics (this is currently impossible to achieve at the scale of large countries or all northern forests), and shows the stand replacement return intervals for the forests of certain areas in general - coniferous and deciduous dominated, productive and unproductive, commercial and protected forests altogether. Such averaging may lead to a significant underestimation of forest use impact on most valuable merchantable forests, e.g. mature coniferous forest stands.

The SRRI map is based on data over 13 years (from 2000 to 2013) and does not reflect the prior state of these forests, which may have been cumulatively depleted in the previous decades; nor does it consider forest use after the middle of 2013. Therefore in some cases the areas of green on the map may have also suffered from unsustainable use. Moreover, the map does not take into account selective logging, which also may lead to an underestimation of forest use intensity.

Below is the national SRRI map for Russia, overlapped with FSC-certified (valid certificates as well as those suspended and in the process of certification) forest management units (to zoom in and see the details download the map with the higher resolution by clicking at the image), as well as the fragments of this map for the areas with high FSC density: the Northern European part of Russia, East Siberia and the southern part of the Far East.





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