Titan Group Companies Have Not Harvested and DoNot Harvest Onthe Area Proposed ByGreenpeace Russia and WWF For the Nature Reserve

19.10.2017

These statements are published on the respective companies’ websites of the two companies. In June 2017 we declared our commitment to sustainable development values and support of establishing the protected area in the interstream area of the Northern Dvina and Pinega Rivers covering 350,000 ha within the boundaries agreed with all interested parties.

Moratorium agreements to preserve high conservation value forests, in which our companies participate, are available to the public, strictly observed by us from 2013.

The boundaries of moratorium zones are wider than the projected reserve boundaries, i.e. wider than Greenpeace and WWF demand (Fig. 1).

Until now Titan Group companies have not been harvesting in these zones. Not a cubic meter of wood was logged on the area proposed by Greenpeace and WWF for the reserve.

We would like to inform you of our work to come to agreement with representatives of international NGOs (WWF and Greenpeace) about new boundaries of the projected SPNA.

In June 2017, in Moscow, there was a meeting with the leaders of WWF Russia during which the new boundaries of the projected protected areas, passing on the leased territory of Titan Group logging companies have been previously discussed and agreed.

We were sure that the negotiations went into the final stage leading to signing the agreed boundaries of the projected SPNA, crossing the leased area of Titan Group logging companies, on 12 July 2017. However, we received a joint reply from Greenpeace Russia and WWF, in which Mr. Alexey Yaroshenko stated that the proposals of environmental organizations «reflect the minimally acceptable area of the reserve in the Titan Group and Arkhangelsk PPM operations zone, and consider the interests to maintain the companies’ viability to the maximum degree» and «Titan Group rejecting these boundaries means that at present it is impossible to find mutually agreeable reserve boundaries». In his letter Mr. Alexey Yaroshenko informed us, that the negotiations «have not succeeded yet».

We believe that the deterioration of the social and economic situation for residents of the territories adjoining the reserve which may occur as a result of both unjustified bans to use the territories and decline of the economic situation for the Titan Group logging companies is not acceptable.

Our arguments were partly heard by Greenpeace Russia, as they proposed new boundaries for the projected SPNA, considering water collecting basins of small rivers. Our companies made additional forecasts for logging companies’ operations in the projected SPNA, as well as developed new proposals for Greenpeace Russia, which was mentioned in August at the round table «On developing protected areas system as exemplified by the Arkhangelsk Region experience». The event was organized by the Arkhangelsk Region Government in the Ustyansky District of the Region. The round table was attended by WWF Russia representatives.

At the next meeting with WWF Russia representatives, held after the round table, we gained support of this organization’s leaders concerning our proposals again.

However, on 15 August 2017 we received a reply from our partners — WWF Russia — that our joint proposals «were not accepted by Greenpeace», that «it makes no sense for WWF Russia to take a position on boundaries which conflicts with the Greenpeace one». Our colleagues also mentioned that «they are still ready for the dialogue with all interested parties» and will «try to find a compromise», but at present they had to acknowledge that «negotiations reached a deadlock».

Readiness of WWF Russia for the further dialogue can be confirmed by the fact that its representatives participated in the field visit to the leased area of Ust-Pokshenga LPH, a logging company of Titan Group, arranged by Titan Group on 25-27 September. After the field visit WWF Russia representatives noted the absence of Russian forest legislation violations or FSC FM standards violations (namely, biodiversity protection). It was confirmed that measures taken to protect biodiversity follow recommendations, that when logging key biotopes and biodiversity structures are preserved and also the fact that Ust-Pokshenga LPH does not harvest in the moratorium agreement zone or the projected SPNA was underlined.

At the Moscow working meeting with WWF Russia leaders at the end of September , the discussion of possible boundaries for the projected SPNA of regional importance were finalized.

Titan Group and WWF Russia signed a protocol that fixed our agreements on the boundaries of the projected Verkhneiulovsky (Dvinsko-Pinezhsky) landscape nature reserve of regional importance within the forest areas leased by Titan Group, Sawmill 25 and Arkhangelsk PPM and also on the boundaries of its buffer zone.

In addition to coordinating the boundaries of the projected reserve, the Titan Group has already made a significant contribution to its creation by accepting a number of obligations. We have withdrawn: from building a road for logging trucks across the planned reserve directly accessing 8 Arkhangelsk — Moscow motorway (if implemented, the distance for hauling timber would have decreased by almost 400 km); from promising softwood plantations in Vyisky and Sursky forest divisions, offering them as a contribution to the reserve.

Besides, another contribution of Titan Group to the reserve establishment will be road and bridge building bypassing intact forests along the northern border of the reserve, which will demand additional significant financial investments.

At the same time, we emphasize that the establishing of SPNA within some boundaries is exclusive jurisdiction of the Arkhangelsk Region Government. No boundaries, even finally negotiated between us and international NGOs, will be accepted by the regional authorities without consideration of local population opinion, municipalities’ viewpoint, as well as other logging companies, forest leaseholders in the projected SPNA.

If Greenpeace and WWF fail to agree with the Arkhangelsk Region Government, municipal authorities, other forest users in the projected SPNA zone, the Arkhangelsk Region Government has the right to establish a SPNA in the interstream area of the Northern Dvina and Pinega Rivers on 100,000 ha area of intact forest landscapes, not leased, which fact will be considered by Greenpeace as the first stage of SPNA establishment. In this situation Motion 65 provisions of 2014 FSC General Assembly will come into force, under which FSC — certified Titan Group and other forest users, leasing IFL, will have to introduce a moratorium on logging in 80% of IFL area within the leased area boundaries. This fact will mean that a number of our companies will stop logging.

On August 2017, on the 3rd Russian Championship 21st —century Logger in the Ustyansky District, a round table «On developing protected areas system as exemplified by the Arkhangelsk Region experience» was held. The round table discussion participants, including WWF Russia representatives, passed a decision: «To develop NEW materials of the interstream area complex environmental study, justifying the legal status of the landscape reserve with regional importance for this area». At the round table «Measures taken to preserve IFL in the interstream area of the Northern Dvina and Pinega Rivers» (Arkhangelsk, October 3-4, 2017), the Minister of Natural Resources and Timber Industry Complex of the Arkhangelsk Region, Konstantin Doronin, announced plans of the Government of the Arkhangelsk region to conduct new expeditionary area survey in the interstream area of the Northern Dvina and Pinega Rivers involving all stakeholders, co-production of NEW supporting materials of the projected SPNA in NEW boundaries, agreed by all the parties concerned, and performing NEW State Environmental Expertise.

All partners of the Arkhangelsk Pulp and Paper Mill and Sawmill 25 were invited to participate in this round table. The event was attended by representatives of Stora Enso, Smurfit Kappa, SCA, ISB France, as well as representatives of FSC International, FSC Russia, NEPCon Russia. During this event, we flew by helicopter over the parts of territory of the projected Verkhneyolovsky reserve. Our partners were shown forest areas of intact forest landscapes, on which, in agreement with Greenpeace and WWF, timber is harvested, and those forest areas of the IFL, in which a moratorium on logging, which we have voluntarily accepted, is being carried out.

We continue our work with WWF and Greenpeace Russia. We placed an order to perform «Economic and social feasibility study for the inclusion of some forest segments leased by Titan Group for logging purposes into the Dvinsky-Pinezhsky (Verkhneyulovsky) reserve with regional importance». Such recognized Russian research establishments as Northern Research Institute of Forestry, St. Petersburg Forestry Research Institute, Northern Arctic Federal University are involved in this study. This study is expected to be completed in November — December 2017.

With the approval of WWF Russia and Greenpeace Russia we are developing the Titan Group Strategic Action Plan in forest management for the period until 2025 and long term. The first annotated draft of the Strategic Plan will be presented on November 2017.

The representative of Arkhangelsk PPM, an international member of FSC International, participated in the 8th General Assembly of FSC International.

We hope that our report on the activities to resolve the issue of the projected SPNA new boundaries with every interested party, and arguments in there will give you a clear idea of our position and responsibility to the employees, residents of settlements located in forest segments leased by our companies, as well as the measures to preserve intact forest landscapes of the Arkhangelsk Region taken by Titan Group, Sawmill 25, Arkhangelsk PPM as responsible FSC — certified companies.

SPNA map.
Minutes of working meeting.

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