Building models for sustainable forestry: 20 years of cooperation with WWF-Russia

Published 7 February 2020
In 2019, WWF-Russia and Stora Enso celebrated 20 years of cooperation in Russia. The Pskov Model Forest project is one of the landmarks of the joint efforts to improve sustainable forestry. Why was that project established and what have we learned?

Forestry is a vital industry in the economy of the Republic of Karelia and Northwest Russia, where Stora Enso procures wood.

“From the beginning, our goal in cooperating with WWF was to improve sustainable forestry practices in Russia, to ensure that wood procurement is responsible, and that environmental and social aspects are taken into account in forestry,” says Olga Rogozina, Sustainability Manager at Stora Enso Wood Supply Russia. “For example, conserving biodiversity in forests is an important part of sustainable forest management.”

The first joint project between WWF-Russia and Stora Enso was called Pskov Model Forest. The project focused on the management of forest resources and was launched in 1999 in the Strugo-Krasnensky district of Pskov Region. One of Stora Enso’s subsidiaries was operating in the area and the project was carried out on the leased forest land. The goal was to follow and test the Scandinavian forestry model in the region, since Stora Enso had a leased area there.

“The WWF-Russia Forest Program has paid special attention to the development of sustainable management in industrial forests. This is because we know that without sustainable management it is impossible to ensure the effective conservation of ecologically valuable intact forest landscapes, which contain many species of flora and fauna, including rare species," says Alexander Voropaev, WWF-Russia Forest Program project coordinator. “In fact, it was the Pskov Model Forest joint project in Russia that launched sustainable intensive forest management, which is now being followed by a range of Russian companies in different regions of the country."

Joining forces with several stakeholders

The Pskov project was a project between Stora Enso, SIDA and WWF Germany, managed by WWF-Russia. It also involved local stakeholders and research institutes as well as the regional and local forest authorities. The model developed in the project, called “intensive and sustainable forestry," means for instance that one harvesting company takes care of the whole forest management cycle, that investments such as thinning are seen as opportunities to increase the financial turnover of the rotation, that landscape planning is taken into account and that biodiversity conservation is also considered in commercial forests. One of the features was to ensure that forestry operators, environmentalists, and the local community are all involved in the decision-making processes.

As a result of implementation of the Pskov project (1999–2008), the regulations and practices surrounding intensive and sustainable forestry in industrial forests in Russia were developed. Subsequently, the experience from the project was extended to other regions in Russia and was implemented by some other forest companies.

Close collaboration for real change

"It is impossible to achieve competent, cost-effective forest management that addresses environmental interests without the active participation of business. The results we have already achieved in this area would not have been possible without the support of leading companies in the forest industry. Stora Enso is one of our long-term and most reliable partners,” says Voropaev.

“Since 2010, together with WWF-Russia, we have promoted forest certification and have been creating and testing group forest certification. This has been pioneering work in Russia, and today we have more than one million hectares in Russia covered by group certifications,” Rogozina says.

During the 20 years of cooperation, Stora Enso and WWF-Russia have had several joint projects, such as: the Pskov Model Forest; a project focusing on the legality of wood origin (2005–2008); a large-scale project to improve forest legislation (2008–2010); and forest certification projects (2010 onwards).

The Pskov Model Forest project donors were the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Stora Enso and WWF Germany.