Russia has the largest reserves of timber in the world. The country’s forests belong to the most valuable national assets. However, many forests have been destroyed during the last decades. NASA satellites allow calculating a detailed volume of lost and grown forests in each country over the years. Russia had lost 91million acres of forest while only 39 million acres of forest had been grown during 2000 -2012 (Spilsbury 29). Provided data indicates the worst case in comparison to the other countries in the world. Therefore, the deforestation belongs to the urgent issues in Russia. The impact of deforestation on economy, ecology and society is the subject for research. Illegal logging is the second pressing challenge that must be addressed by the government. Thus, the role of Russian government in the current situation regulation is investigated.
The research involves the analysis of the negative consequences of deforestation in Russia. The impact of the deforestation on Russian ecology and economy has been researched through the example of the Baikal Lake region. The investigation has been conducted on the basis of the information provided in the academic literature. The data have been observed through the thorough analysis of the statistics and legislation of Russian Federation. Investigation methods such as analysis and comparison have been used to find the proper solution of the current problem in Russia. The government impact has also been analyzed to show the role of authorities in problem regulation.
Forest extermination has destroyed the ecosystem in Russia. The intensive deforestation in Baikal Lake region has put at threat the existence of such animals as grouse, white-backed woodpecker and the Amur leopard. Ash, linden, oak and cedar have got into the list of rare species. Rivers that run into Baikal Lake have been clogged with logging companies’ waste. As a result, the purest freshwater Baikal Lake has also been polluted. Some fish species has disappeared. Almost the entire forest of Baikal Lake region has been exported to China. Deforestation caused a significant damage to wildlife not only to this region, but also to other Russian regions (Stoecker & Shakirova 72).
In order to stop the negative consequences of the deforestation, logging in the coastal strip and logging on a large scale has been banned. However, the significant deforestation continued even after the ban. In addition, acres of forests might be destroyed for the purpose of road construction, business development, and mining of other natural resources. As a result, the age-old forests are cut down with the purpose of getting profit. Despite the scale of the problem, low wages, lack of control and gaps in the law make it difficult to prevent deforestation in Russia.
Illegal logging causes the maximum loss to Russia. Illegal extermination of trees is conducted under the guise of the sanitary cuttings or tending. According to the World Wildlife Fund, Russia annually loses about $ 1 billion due to illegal logging. Restrictions on deforestation in China have increased demand for Russian timber. Therefore, the highest level of the illegal logging is noticed in north-west Russia and the Far East. Environmental Investigation Agency states that 80% of hardwood timber is cut illegally in the Far East and imported to the EU and other countries all over the world (Spilsbury 35). The smuggled timber is sold at the lowest prices. Thus, it negatively affects Russian economy.
Article 260 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code stipulates punishment for the environmental crimes (Stoecker & Shakirova 66). A lawbreaker can be brought to the administrative or criminal responsibility in order to counteract the deforestation and illegal destruction of trees. If the court proves the fact of illegal logging on a large scale, the guilty party will be fined up to 1 million rubles or sentenced to the correctional labor or compulsory tasks. In the case of serious crime, the court may impose imprisonment. Thus, any illegal forest destruction is prosecuted in Russia. Nevertheless, the poachers find a variety of ways how to avoid law and gain profit from illegal logging.
Deforestation has become a challenging issue due to the erroneous policies adopted at the state level in Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin eliminated the Federal Forestry Service and the Environment Protection Committee and transferred their functions to the Ministry of Natural Resources in 2000 (Josephson, Dronin, Mnatsakanian, Cherp, Efremenko, Larin 288). The liquidation undermined the Forest management system and led to negative consequences.
Russian authority does not take appropriate measures aimed at saving the timber resource. However, the government should pay attention to the issue until it is too late. Proper forest management will allow receiving all kinds of wood while causing only the minimum damage to forests. It includes reforestation, complex recycling and taking inventory of forest resources. In addition, the current Forest Code needs further development and supplementation. The authorities should develop and adopt the cutting practice rules for the forests of the Baikal Lake region. These rules must take into account the climatic conditions and the need for preserving the rivers of this region. The government should also select and establish specially protected forest areas in order to preserve and enhance the water protection and soil protection functions, and to prevent windfall and a windbreak in the forests of the Baikal Lake region.
- Josephson, P., Dronin, N., Mnatsakanian, R., Cherp, A., Efremenko, D., Larin. V. An Environmental History of Russia. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Print.
- Spilsbury, R. Deforestation: Development or Destruction? New York: The Rosen Publishing Group Inc. 2012. Print.
- Stoecker, S. & Shakirova, R. Environmental Crime and Corruption in Russia. New York: Routledge. 2014, Print.