Challenges and Opportunities for the Development of a Sustainable Forest Sector in the Russian Far East
Simeone, John Crichton
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Twenty-three percent of global forests are contained within the Russian Federation's nine time zones, which is more than the combined forest area of Canada and Brazil. Despite the fact that Russia contains the largest area of natural forests in the world, its current share in the trade of world forest products is below 4 percent. Russia's forest sector is known for high transportation costs, aging infrastructure, and high instances of bribery and corruption, issues that have had widespread impacts. In 2006, Russia's easternmost region, the Far East, had the ability to process only two percent of its regional timber harvest. While the Far East's processing capacity was particularly low, the situation for most other regions of Russia was little better. With such a low capacity to process timber, Russia increasingly became an exporter of roundwood logs; between 2003 and 2005, Russia exported more roundwood than any other country. Beginning in 2007, the Russian government implemented a series of policies, including export tariffs on roundwood, in order to develop a more competitive timber-processing sector and increase the production and exports of value-added forest products. Yet, in 2009, 96% of the forest product exports from the Far East were in the form of unprocessed roundwood logs. Thus, the efficacy of these national forest policies in the Far East has been unclear in the short-term. Additionally, Russia's World Trade Organization (WTO) accession in August 2012 is expected to alter many aspects of Russia's forest sector development and exports. Through semi-structured interviews with people involved in the forest sector, this research investigates the most recent challenges facing the development of a sustainable forest sector in the Russian Far East.
- Forestry