Russia's forest economy is suffering vast losses not only because of forest fires

Because there is no forest certification in Russia, the country loses one billion of dollars annually. This figure was cited on Monday at a news conference in RIA Novosti by Alexander Belyakov, chairman of the State Duma committee on natural resources and nature management.

"The annual turnover of the Russian timber industrial complex is now 8 billion dollars. But considering that the value of uncertified timber is 15 to 20 per cent lower than that 'with a passport', the country annually loses 1 billion dollars". There is also unaccounted-for "shadow market" income.

Belyakov conceded that the Forest Code of the Russian Federation has an article on obligatory certification, but more often than not it is not enforced.

The deputy explained that a certificate is the passport of a forest stand. This document must indicate the origins of timber, its age, species, "bill of health", calculated felling rate, and some other indices.

"Russia's forest complex has found itself near the brink," Belyakov noted. "The cornerstone of its existence is now the export of materials. Around 75 per cent of logs, 40 per cent of sawn goods, and 30 per cent of chemical pulp are exported to European, US and Japanese markets, and these countries are very sensitive to ecological issues," the deputy explained.

And if certified products today account for 7 to 15 per cent, in the years to come the demand for products "with a passport" may rise to 50 per cent.

At the same time he indicated that the institution of certification will benefit Russia itself - forest ecology will be improved, and more efficient use will be made of the forest complex. Its potential in Russia is already evaluated by experts at 25-30 billion dollars.

He also pointed out that, according to specialist estimates, it would take about 5 years to certify all the Russian forest complex if work was well organised.

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