WWF: Tree Felling Threatens Siberian Tigers
VLADIVOSTOK. October 19. VOSTOK-MEDIA – The official website of Primorye government has issued a statement of the Forest Service unveiling its plans to hold on October 26 an auction for logging forest plots in Pozharsky District, which provide vital habitat for Siberian tigers.
The Amur Region representative office of WWF-Russia said the logging areas include the spawning protection belt of Bikin River and the adjacent area designated for subsistence harvesting of hazel, which were leased to the indigenous minorities’ community Tigr for subsistence farming in 2009.
Also slated for cutting are the forests that comprise the newly established Sredneussuriysky Nature Reserve, which is the last ecological corridor linking Russian and Chinese tiger habitats.
The large-scale cutting is scheduled to start in the Pozharsky District hazel subsistence harvesting area, where a massive felling of valuable trees is already underway under the guise of improvement cutting. Pyotr Diyuk, the head of the local forest management department, said in a documentary broadcast on the Rossiya channel in May: “There is only one hazel subsistence harvesting area left in Russia and it cannot not be leased out because environmentalists will raise hell about it, especially in the Year of Tiger. And we just cut trees there…It’s a state-run company engaged in improvement cutting…In a couple of years the company will cease to exist.”
And that means that even pending the International Tiger Preservation Forum, which will be held in St. Petersburg next month, Primorye forest authorities do not abandon their plans to cut out the forest areas critical for Siberian tigers.
The Amur Region representative office of WWF-Russia is planning to hold an urgent press-conference on October 20, at 2:00 p.m. At the conference WWF will present evidence that Primorye forest authorities favor tree felling in protection forests as well as provide the review of the WWF’s efforts aimed to prevent cutting of Korean Pine, the key feeding tree species of Siberian tigers. Also highlighted at the conference will be the issue of the shrinking of tiger habitats.