APPM and Titan Group Support Establishment of Verkhneyulovsky Nature Reserve on At Least 350,000 Ha
Confirming their commitment to environmentally sustainable and socially responsible business, Arkhangelsk PPM and their general supplier of timber, Titan Group, have officially announced their support for the establishment of the Verkhneyulovsky nature reserve in the boundaries close to the ones identified in the Arkhangelsk Region Forest Plan, on an area of at least 350,000 ha.
Given that the established Verkhneyulovsky nature reserve having an area of at least 350,000 ha will be the sixth protected area that covers large parts of forest blocks leased to Titan Group and Arkhangelsk PPM, the companies insist that the condition for complete approval of the Verkhneyulovsky nature reserve in the boundaries close to the boundaries identified in the Arkhangelsk Region Forest Plan, on an area of at least 350,000 ha, should be a revision of the moratorium agreements signed earlier by APPM and Titan Group for the forest blocks located outside of the protected area proposed by WWF Russia.
Arkhangelsk PPM and Titan Group also have to state that the establishment of the protected area in the Northern Dvina and Pinega watershed on the area proposed by WWF Russia (at least 350,000 ha) will inevitably result in gradual curtailing of the operations of Titan Group’s logging companies which harvest timber in the forests located in the proposed Verkhneyulovsky nature reserve over the next 7 years.
In view of the above, Titan Group and Arkhangelsk PPM suggest that the Arkhangelsk Region Government, Arkhangelsk Regional Assembly, and concerned authorities of the Russian Federation should immediately start developing a set of measures that would mitigate the negative social and economic impact for the municipalities located in the Verkhneyulovsky reserve proposed by WWF Russia on an area of at least 350,000 ha.
Titan Group and Arkhangelsk PPM would like to stress that for the period over which Titan’s logging companies will have to curtail their operations in the Verkhneyulovsky reserve area proposed by WWF Russia to extend on at least 350,000 ha, both companies will remain committed to FSC certification, noting however that this certification system is unable to ensure a balance between the interests of the economy, the public and the environment, but rather gives preference for the interests of the environmental organizations.
On June 23, 2017, during a round table held by FSC International in Bonn (Germany), the leading negotiator for the protected area on behalf of Titan and Arkhangelsk PPM, Yury Trubin, emphasized that both companies strictly comply with the Russian forest and environment protection laws. In order to strengthen their position on the global market and confirm that their forest management practice conforms to the international requirements, APPM and Titan were certified in the 2000’s by one of the most widely recognized voluntary forest certification systems, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
Both companies, including a Titan Group member, Lesozavod 25, fully comply with all the requirements of FSC certification, as confirmed by annual audit reports issued by the leading auditor, NEPKon.
In his address in Bonn, Yury Trubin stressed that compliance with the requirements of FSC forest certification includes maintaining high conservation value forests, including preservation of pristine forest areas (PFAs) located in areas leased/subleased by logging companies.
Trubin said that Titan Group, Arkhangelsk PPM, Lesozavod 25 operate in PFAs located in the Arkhangelsk region, and a large part, over 1 million cubic meters of the cutting quota in the leased forests, is located in PFAs. In order to meet the requirements for PFA conservation, logging companies in agreement with the international environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs), WWF and Greenpeace, have voluntarily assumed the obligations to conserve the parts of PFA located in the leased blocks and signed a moratorium on logging operations in these blocks, and strictly adhere to these commitments. Timber cutting in PFA parts is carried out in compliance with the applicable requirements of the FSC standard for forest management and the signed moratorium agreements.
In addition, Titan Group as a member of FSC Russia is currently involved in the development of a new national standard for FSC forest management in Russia, which provides for partial use of PFA forests by the industry. The standard is being developed with consideration of the international environmental non-governmental organizations’ interests and position on PFAs.
According to Yury Trubin, in the opinion of the environmental NGOs, establishing a protected area in parts of PFA forest blocks leased to Titan Group, Lesozavod 25, APPM, and other timber companies in the region, as well as unleased forest blocks, will lead to more efficient conservation. For this purpose, in early 2000’s the international NGOs initiated the establishment of a protected area in the Northern Dvina and Pinega watershed. The possibility of this nature reserve area being established is reflected in all revisions of Arkhangelsk Region Forest Plans 2008, 2011, 2016, and the Arkhangelsk Region Territorial Planning Scheme.
The Company’s representative at the round table reminded that Titan Group, Lesozavod 25, Arkhangelsk PPM support the protected area in the Northern Dvina and Pinega watershed in the boundaries that would factor in the current situation in this forest land, the operating capacity of Titan Group’s logging companies, and the operating programs for timber supply and development of processing capacities of the processing companies, Lesozavod 25 and Arkhangelsk PPM.
For this purpose and in order to develop and introduce new methods for sustainable forest management in the leased forest blocks, Titan Group, Lesozavod 25, Arkhangelsk PPM with participation of WWF and Greenpeace Russia (as experts) have started to form a new model of forest management, which will be more focused on establishing protected areas in the new boundaries approved by the international NGOs.
Titan Group, Lesozavod 25, Arkhangelsk PPM will continue to operate (harvest timber) in the PFAs which are not included in the proposed nature reserve and the voluntary moratorium areas in compliance with the applicable Russian forest laws.
Titan Group, Arkhangelsk PPM, Lesozavod 25 maintain a continuous meaningful dialog with the international environmental NGOs to coordinate the boundaries of the proposed protected area within their leased blocks, by gradually aligning their positions. A meeting will be held soon to coordinate the boundaries of the proposed protected area in the above companies’ leased bases.