Exchange for Sustainability


The German way of permanent forest management - a model for Russia?

Report by Ekatherina Nevmerzhitskaya and Nikolay Nevmerzhitsky, Russian Federation, about their stay in Germany in August/September 2019

We have been working in forestry for more than 10 years. During our work, especially in forestry practice, many questions came up, to which we have unfortunately not yet been able to find answers. And the most important thing we were constantly thinking about was how much all our activities in the forest affect the forest stands. We have doubts if forestry, which is still largely based on the Soviet Union tradition (mostly clear cutting, then artificial reforestation), is the right approach to forestry in Russia. The rigid requirements of the state forest administration largely prescribe certain forestry measures, regardless of the actual conditions (growth conditions, tree species composition, location, etc.), which are measured and controlled on the basis of defined action-oriented indicators. This, from our point of view, is comparable with the standardized approach of cultivation of grain, and it does not allow consideration of forestry and site-specific factors. Measures are often only carried out in order to meet state requirements.
We have hardly any opportunities to manage our forest stands on our own or to try out apply strategies. State control is limited to compliance with the regulations for achieving a certain amount of felling and for artificial reforestation of the areas within specified deadlines. Every attempt to carry out forest management that makes more sense from our point of view reaches the limits of the state requirements and is punished. Therefore, the following questions arise for us:
• Are both, the current management system and the legal framework in forestry in our country (our region) effective?
• How can the authorities (forest administration) be given sufficient leeway for sensible forest management?

Since the beginning of our work in forestry, we have been trying to improve the situation. However, real change processes require a longer time horizon. We, and also our colleagues in the state authorities, have not had enough time to gain experience in the implementation of silvicultural strategies and to draw the appropriate consequences, and so far, insights from forestry practice have hardly been incorporated into the design of the framework conditions.
Based on the knowledge we gained during our internship in Germany, we have developed the following fields of activity for us:
1. Transition to selective felling in mature and overripe stands, reducing the growth time of the target trees, reducing clearing areas.
2. Reduction of the area of the artificial regeneration by maintaining the shelter during the timber harvesting or targeted expansion of the natural regeneration.
3. Improvement of forest maintenance and selective felling with appropriate mechanization.
4. Cleaning the logging area before planting: using methods that minimize the environmental impact.
5. More accurate and traceable logging of felled timber for timber sales.
6. Targeted interventions (sanitary blows, forest maintenance) to maintain the health of the stand.
7. Continuous forest management: Acquisition, storage and evaluation of relevant data on the condition of the forest and construction of forest planning based on the data.
8. Illegal disposal of garbage on areas of the state forest fund: Effective measures against violators of the law and prevention by informing the population.
9. Damage to forest plantations caused by wild animals: cooperation with users of hunting licenses, prevention of damage to forest stands.
10. Creation and development of ecologically valuable locations for the information and education of the population.

Continue reading via pdf with lots of impressive pictures (in German)