Members of the Russian Federal Forestry Agency visit Alice Holt Research Forest
News from Forest Research: April 2008
Members of the Russian Federal Forestry Agency recently had a whirlwind tour of the UK, including meetings with Forestry Commission’s Director General, Forestry Commission Scotland and Forest Research at Alice Holt Research Forest, in Surrey.
The visit to the UK followed from a discussion between Phil Woolas MP, Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and Valery Roshchupkin, Head of Federal Forest Agency, Russia, at the 5th Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe, in Warsaw in November 2007. The purpose of the visit was to help inform the forestry debate on climate change in Russia, build links between UK and Russian forestry and climate officials, and identify areas for future co-operation.
Tim Rollinson, the Director General of the Forestry Commission (FC), hosted the first stage of the Russian visit, which included presentations and detailed discussions on climate change, forest monitoring, inventory work and certification.
FC Scotland organised a visit to the Cowal and Trossachs Forest District, before the group travelled to meet timber trade organisations in London.
Their visit to Forest Research (FR) focused on the proven knowledge and expertise of Forest Research and the wider FC in the key area of forests and climate change.
The party was welcomed by Acting Research Director Professor Andy Moffat and received presentations from climate change experts James Morison and FC England’s Mark Broadmeadow. In the afternoon the group visited Alice Holt Research Forest where they saw FR’s climate change tower, eddy flux monitors, soil carbon experiments and long-term monitoring plots.
The delegates were impressed by the attractive spring feel of a mixed broadleaved woodland and the extent of public access. They were also very interested in the labelling of some hardwood logs stacked at the roadside, since illegal logging is a significant challenge in Russia.
The Russian forest industry urgently needs decision-support information to support its vast areas of forest and are interested in the Forestry Commission’s policy, research and position on sustainable forest management and climate change. Climate change poses a serious threat to Russia’s boreal forests, with drought in Northern Russia causing dieback in about 5 million hectares of forested land.
Russia’s Federal Forest Agency is hosting an international conference on forests and climate change in St Petersburg later this year and it is hoped that the FC and FR can share expertise and know-how with Russian colleagues, both at this conference and in future work. Following these initial discussions, the Forestry Commission’s International Policy team will look to develop further collaboration with the Russian Federal Forest Service.
Climate change is among the UK Government’s highest priorities. That Russia and its forests are, and will play, a vital role in how the world confronts the challenges of climate change is perhaps less well known. This visit and its follow-up opportunities will increase its prominence and give Russian efforts on climate change and sustainable forest management a considerable boost.