On April 19, 2018, the Government of the Arkhangelsk region signed the bilateral agreement (a moratorium agreement) on the establishment of the borders of the projected Verkhneyulovsky (Dvinsko-Pinezhsky) State Natural Reserve of regional importance and ensuring the protection of Intact Forest Landscapes within the established boundaries between all tenants of the forest plots in the interfluve of the Northern Dvina and Pinega and environmental organizations — WWF Russia, Greenpeace Russia.
In accordance with the moratorium agreement, the forest users whose forest plots are located on the territory of the proposed Dvinsko-Pinezhsky Natural Reserve assumed the obligations to refuse wood harvesting there until the actual borders of the Specially Protected Natural Area are determined. According to preliminary estimations, the area of the reserve will amount to 302 thousand hectares. At the same time, the consolidated contribution of GC «Titan», JSC Arkhangelsk Pulp and Paper Mill and CJSC «Sawmill-25» will achieve more than 170 thousand hectares, that is over 50%. Other forest tenants transferred about 80,000 hectares to the intact forest landscapes zone.
The agreement was signed by Alexey Kudryavtsev -General Director of GC «Titan», Dmitriy Zylev — General Director of JSC Arkhangelsk Pulp and Paper Mill, Dmitry Krylov — General Director of CJSC Sawmill-25, Alexey Bulygin — Deputy General Director of GK Ustyanskiy Timber Industry Complex, Sergei Barbolin — Director of LLC Dvinslesprom, Ivan Potaychuk — General Director of OOO «Vaengskiy logging company», Yuri Fil’ -Director of LLC «Forest Specialists» on the one hand and Eugenie Scwarts — Director of Environmental Policy of WWF-Russia and Alexey Yaroshenko — the Head of the Forest Department of Greenpeace Russia on the other hand.
Evgeny Shwarts, the Director for Environmental Policy of WWF Russia, evaluated the event and remarked that the Arkhangelsk region, on the level of large export-oriented business companies, managed to demonstrate a constructive position on this issue. He stressed as well that WWF has always adhered to the principle of escaping from excessive restrictions in the interfluve. The natural reserve is necessary to limit the industrial logging. The collection of mushrooms, picking of berries, legal hunting and fishing, ecotourism should not be prohibited.
Evgeny Shwarts did not exclude that WWF would test the projects with the enterprises of the regional forest complex which would enable to engage the local population in reforestation and cuttings in young forest growth areas, which promote intensive forestry development outside the boundaries of the Specially Protected Natural Areas. In the expert’s opinion, it would help both to solve environmental problems and to provide the earnings to locals.
Alexander Dyatlov, the Chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources and Industrial Complex of the Assembly of Deputies of the Arkhangelsk region, reminded that the Committee under his direction for several years has been calling all parties to start a joint work on the establishment of the natural reserve. «This is a big step forward towards the efficiency of the environmental protection measures, management of the natural reserve and conservation of the Dvina taiga,»- he said.
Alexander Dyatlov drew attention to the fact that during a lot of years the Deputies of the municipalities, Heads of the municipalities, the locals, who were worried by the termination of the production activities of the logging enterprises in Vinogradovsky, Kholmogorsky, Pinezhsky and Verkhnetoemsky districts, were applying to the regional Assembly of Deputies in connection with the establishment of the Dvinsko-Pinezhsky Natural Reserve. The discussion became even wider, as this issue affected the budgets of these districts, small and medium business of the timber industrial complex and the local population.
In this regard, he addressed a proposal to the representatives of Greenpeace Russia and WWF Russia to continue joint work in order to reach the agreement with the locals as for the establishment of the Natural Reserve. «After the timber producers have agreed the new borders of the Reserve, the responsibility for its creation rests with the Government of the Arkhangelsk region, the deputies and the environmental organizations,» — Alexander Dyatlov underlined. — But the decision to establish a Natural Reserve should be taken as carefully as possible taking into account the opinion of all interested parties. If we continue a constructive dialogue, taking into account the arguments and interests of all parties, then the reserve can be created as soon as possible. I can assure you that we will do our best.«
Alexander Erulik, the Minister of the Natural Resources and Forestry Complex of the Arkhangelsk region, told that the work on establishment of the reserve had been already conducted for several years. And the fact that the management of the enterprises of the timber industry complex and environmental organizations came to a common solution, first of all, as for the territory size, is very important. «Natural studies aimed at confirming the feasibility to protect taiga plots included in the moratorium agreement and determining the final borders of the Dvinsko-Pinezhsky Natural Reserve, will be held in spring and summer of the current year,» he said. All interested parties, first of all, the specialists of the relevant ministry, non-governmental nature-protecting organizations will jointly work over the actual map of the Protected Areas. It is recorded in a separate minutes, which has been signed today. The public hearings in the municipalities will become an obligatory stage of coordination.«
According to Alexander Erulik, the draft of the protected areas prepared by the participants of the research will be sent to environmental expertise in autumn, and then to the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation. Thus, the approval of the Regulations on the Reserve should be finished either at the end of this year, or in the beginning of the next year.
Yuri Trubin, Forestry and GR-Director of GC «Titan», emphasized that it was rather a complicated way before the parties has come to this agreement, but the priority in the economic calculations of the logging enterprises was put on accountability to locals and municipalities where the company fulfilled its economic activities. «This agreement twice increases the restrictions in the operational activity of our logging enterprises,» — Yuri Trubin said. «But we consciously take this step in order to guarantee to the nature-protecting organizations, the regional Government the conservation of this territory for its legal registration as a specially protected territory.»
According to him, the next step will be signing of an agreement with WWF upon further measures to protect forest plots within intact forest landscapes on the leased base of GC «Titan», JSC «Arkhangelsk Pulp and Paper Mill» and «Sawmill-25» as a whole. According to the plans, in 2025 it will amount to 5 million cubic meters.
Alexey Kudryavtsev, General Director of GC «Titan», said that having abandoned harvesting, the logging enterprises of the holding would continue to pay for the leased forest plots within the intact forest landscapes zone. «We have a sustainable development model until 2030, which includes operation in the situation if the reserve is created. We will take into account the „natural reserve“ factor while planning operational activities», — he said.
Dmitry Zylev, General Director of JSC Arkhangelsk Pulp and Paper Mill, recalled that the cutting area designed for the priority investment project of the mill has become smaller. Taking into account the plans of Arkhangelsk Pulp and Paper Mill to increase the production capacity up to 1 million tons, the management realized that the mill would need additional timber volumes. Therefore, they would continue team work with the Government of the Arkhangelsk region in order to find a compromise.