“For politicians forest is still mainly wood”

“For politicians forest is still mainly wood”
Yury Gagarin, Leading researcher Centre for Forest Ecology and Productivity of the Russian Academy of Science (CEPF RAS), Russia

Can you describe the importance of forest in your country meaning economically and socially?
Every year in Russia about 210 million cubic meters of wood is harvested, which is used in pulp and paper industry, furniture production, construction, agriculture, medicine, polygraphy and trading. The forest sector provides 1.5 million people with jobs. In the forest areas of the country, forest is a strategic resource. The rural population harvests firewood, collects mushrooms, berries, nuts for food and hunts in forests. At the same time, the forest provides regulating and supporting services, which is especially important for huge urban areas.

How important is it for policy makers, governments, business and wider society to understand the benefits forests can provide us?
For politicians, forest is still mainly wood, because it brings the bigger economic benefits. However, this perception can lead to environmental and social disaster. The transition to multifunctional forest management will increase the economic efficiency of forest using and increase the share of the forest sector in the country’s GDP, which is now very small – only 2%.

What is and should be the role of academia in helping policy makers and business managers to make the right decisions concerning forests?
Now the academia is mainly the chief expert providing reliable information for policy makers and businesses, but the results of scientific research are very slowly being introduced into the real sector. The role of academia in the development of the forest sector should grow. Only with the scientific analysis it is possible to develop effective forest management, which is characterized by a high level of complexity due to the need for a balance between forest ecosystem services.

What can be the role of SINCERE project on FES improvement?
The project should develop a scientific basis for the introduction of scientifically substantiated approaches to multi-purpose forest use, while maintaining a balance between ecosystem services, including through the amendment of the Forest Law. The project should demonstrate the benefits of forest services, which are still not economically evaluated, but which have a high social, ecological significance.

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