Statement by Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation – Head of the Federal Forestry Agency Mr. Ivan Valentik at the special event “Forest-Based Transformation Towards Sustainable and Resilient Societies: Lessons Learned and Success Stories”
Let me start by expressing my gratitude for this opportunity of addressing such a representative meeting. The issues of forest sector are of particular importance for the social and economic development of the Russian Federation. Forested lands of Russia span more than 1 billion and 140 million hectares, with over 880 million hectares covered exclusively by forests. This is almost a half of my country’s land. The growing stock is 79 billion m3, with the annual increment of more than 700 million m3. Today, the State Forest Inventory is under way in Russia. We are updating the information about forests making use of cutting-edge information technologies. We expect to obtain more accurate data about forest resources. General timber stock and amounts of other forest resources are likely to increase.
The forests of Russia grow in various natural and climatic zones – ranging from the tundra to the subtropics. Management of these large and diversified resources requires constant improvement of the legislation, monitoring, implementation of forest protection measures, restoration of forest ecosystems as well as strengthening of their resilience.
These reasons largely explain the active involvement of the Russian Federation in international forest-related processes. We consistently stand for sustainable forest management, as well as for enriching the knowledge about resources and services of forest ecosystems. We highly appreciate our joint achievement – namely the fact that the important role of forests has gained global recognition and is reflected in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We consider the SDG-15 as a commitment that requires efforts of the whole world community for its fulfillment.
The Decree of the President of Russia defines the national goals and strategic targets of my country’s development for the period till 2024. These goals are aimed at social and economic breakthrough, higher standards of living, as well as promoting welfare and opportunities for personal fulfillment for everyone. The Government of the Russian Federation was entrusted to develop a national project for environment to ensure conservation of biological diversity, maintenance of forests, and reforestation of all cut down and dead forests.
Russia is committed to achieving the sustainable development goals. We are actively engaged in delivering on this task at all levels – global, regional and national.
A prominent example of the North-North regional cooperation is the Ministerial Boreal Summit that was held just a couple of weeks ago in Sweden. The Summit resulted in the Haparanda Declaration on Boreal Forests. In this declaration, the countries confirmed their willingness to work together to achieve the SDGs and other strategic decisions on forests.
In light of the above, we would like to express our gratitude to the UN Forum on Forests and the Bureau of its 13th session for the initiative of today's promising event that we are holding right before the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. We are hopeful that it will provide a valuable input to the HLPF-2018, and build on the readiness of all the stakeholders to strengthen cooperation for achieving forest-related SDGs.
We are convinced that one important precondition for advancing the achievement of SDG-15 is the equal attention of the international community to all the SDG targets, without far-fetched prioritization of any individual issues over the others when it comes to conservation and sustainable management of forests.
In Russia, we have launched the Unified State Automated Information System for Wood accounting and Transactions (EGAIS). All the valuable timber is subject to special labeling. This prevents illegal timber from entering markets. We are ready to share this practical experience.
The Russian Federation is a consistent supporter of a reasonable balance between the environmental targets of forest conservation, economic and social priorities.
This very approach has become the foundation of the ‘Green Shield’ initiative of the President of the Russian Federation that is aimed at creating a favorable urban environment by forming protective forest green belts around cities. This initiative enjoys broad public support.
We align ourselves with the position highlighted by the Secretary-General of the United Nations that the issues of forest degradation and deforestation remain acute. We are closely monitoring this problem as well as developing and implementing preventive measures. One example of our work is the legislative tool of the ‘Compensatory reforestation’. In the Russian Federation, we restore every forest plot that has been cut down due to urbanization, infrastructure development or for any other reasons. Thus, in each case we return a similar forest plot to the community.
However, it is not strictly and exclusively anthropogenic factors that cause forest degradation. We can also observe the increasing frequency in the number and scale of wildfires, droughts and other natural disasters. To prevent the escalation of forest-fire emergencies, we have established the Federal Headquarters for Coordination of Forest Fire Fighting Activities. The Headquarters coordinates the management of forces and facilities used for extinguishing forest fires. This allows us to ensure protection of forests as well as to safeguard people, municipalities, and economic actors.
We believe that the effective integration of the SDGs into national development strategies is the guarantee of successful implementation of the social, economic and environmental agenda of the United Nations. In our country, under the supervision of the President, there is an inter-disciplinary working group on climate change and sustainable development. Currently, we are developing a national set of indicators for achieving the sustainable development goals. The application of national sets of indicators may contribute to our common task of efficient monitoring of the progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
In addition to our Government’s decisions, Russia is doing a lot to communicate knowledge and raise public awareness of the forestry issues. By the decree of the President of the Russian Federation, the year 2017 was declared the Year of Environment in our country. The current year 2018 is the Year of the Volunteer. Under these initiatives, people can engage in voluntary projects to restore forests, learn more about the current trends in the forestry sector, or get skills to help protect forests against fires.
The Russian Federation is ready to share its experience in sustainable forest management.
With regard to the ways of further strengthening international cooperation on forests, we consider it necessary to avoid any silo approaches in the negotiation processes. We fully share the opinion that the achievement of the SDGs set out in the 2030 Agenda requires the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, as well as the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests adopted by the UN Forum on Forests which is the key global forest-related political forum. The synergetic approach will allow us to effectively use human, financial and time resources of our countries.
As for the topics for a more thorough consideration at the international level, we propose to enhance the scientific dialogue on managing forest fires and combating forest pests and diseases. Conducting research will allow us all to find the most effective solutions and predict the consequences.
We are convinced that the contribution of forest ecosystems to achieving the goals of maintaining climate balance, saving water resources, ensuring food security, advancing bio-energy and providing for sustainable urban development should be duly taken into account in the reporting on these goals. To this end, in particular, we need joint concerted efforts at the upcoming High-level Political Forum on sustainable development.
This is the HLPF that has the mandate and the capacity to elaborate recommendations for the implementation of SDG-15 and other forest-related SDGs. We expect that our discussion today will become a meaningful contribution to the Political Forum and make the profile of forests more visible and significant in the global agenda.
Thank you for your kind attention.