Logging Sites Auction Canceled after Pressure from Environmentalists
VLADIVOSTOK. October 27. VOSTOK-MEDIA – The auction for logging sites at the protected forests in Primorye has been canceled today after significant pressure from environmentalists.
On October 20, the Amur Region representative office of WWF-Russa held an urgent press-conference demanding to withdraw 16 forest plots from the auction for logging permits at the protected forests of the northern Primorye, specifically at the Bikin river basin. The forest plots were put up for auction by the Primorye forest administration on October 19.
Denis Smirnov, an expert at WWF-Russia, and Alexander Ermolayev, a member of the Primorye Legislative Assembly, were the keynote speakers at the press-conference which was attended by numerous reporters from print, radio and television.
At the close of the conference it was agreed to submit an urgent request to the local forest administration and the environmental prosecutors office to cancel the auction of the forest plots, which had been leased to the indigenous minorities’ community Tigr for subsistence farming in 2009.
The local government’s decision to open up for logging the Pozharsky and Bikinsky pine nut harvesting zones, which provide a critical habitat for Siberian tigers and serve as an ecological corridor linking the Russian and Chinese tiger populations, has received a lot of media coverage and sparked considerable concern worldwide.
The controversial issue has arisen amid the preparations for the next month’s Tiger Preservation Summit in St. Petersburg, which is expected to be attended by the heads of all the 13 countries that have wild tigers, and clearly such news from Russia may simply discourage them from visiting the forum.
Responding to the request by WWF, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the issues of study and preservation of Siberian tigers are under the direct control of the Prime Minister, but before reporting the issue to Putin a comprehensive investigations should be launched into the auction.
As a result of the persistent pressure from the environmental groups, the forestry administration has apparently canceled the auction today. The forestry administration said its head, Pyotr Diyuk, went on vacation Tuesday and the committee did not show up at the auction.