Saving natural forests from industrial logging for paper production in Siberia

We saved more than 1 million hectars of natural forests in Siberia from industrial logging for paper production

Photo of Andrey Laletin
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Eligibility Criteria

  • I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
  • I am 18 years old or older.

Initiative's representative name

Dr. Andrey Laletin

Initiative's representative date of birth

May 13, 1959

Initiative's representative gender

  • Man

Headquarters location: country

  • Russia

Headquarters location: city

Krasnoyarsk

Where are you making a difference?

Yeniseysky district of Krasnoyarsk region and Mogochinsky district of Zabaikalsky region, Russia

Website or social media url(s)

https://www.facebook.com/andrey.laletin

Date Started

May/ 2016

Project Stage

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan going forward)

Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?

  • €1k - €10k

Organization Type

  • Nonprofit/NGO

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

In May 2016 I got information from local media that Angara Paper company plans to build Pulp and Paper Mill (PPM) near Lesosibirsk town and got license for logging more that 300 000 ha of primary natural forests for paper production. We had a meeting in our NGO "Friends of the Siberia Forests" and decided to oppose construction of this PPM and we finally succeeded and widely distributed information about our victory. Later our NGO colleagues from Zabaikalsky region contacted us and asked help to oppose construction of Amazar Pulp and Saw Mill. We made coalition of Siberian NGOs, also connected with Environmental Paper Network and in January 2020 we succeeded to save 750 000 ha of natural forest and now work to organize there protected area.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Majority of Siberian forests are natural. They give oxygen, clean water, keep carbon and protect humanity from climate change. Many of them grow on permafrost and protect it from melting. After logging permafrost melts and release lots of methane (Greenhouse gas that is 30 times more aggressive than CO2) that accelerates climate change. Forests in Siberia are boreal and they have natural biodiversity. After logging natural biodiversity disappears and is substituted by synanthropic species.

3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

In case of Angara Paper we focused on lobbying regional administration and politicians, because that company was from Moscow and did not pay taxes in Krasnoyarsk region. We got support from Krasnoyarsk administration and from the regional Parliament. With our support they issued several court cases against Angara Paper and won. Company must pay all that taxes (more than 3 million rubles, more than 100 000 USD). In parallel, we connected with Environmental Paper Network and Banktrack NGO and prepared a dodgy deal of Angara Paper and sent it to potential donors of the project in Japan with help of colleagues from Friends of the Earth Japan. Company did not get investments from abroad and had not money to pay taxes and start construction. In 2017 Angara Paper became bankrupt and 300 000 ha of natural forests were saved from logging. In case of Amazar PSM we also made dodgy deal together with EPN on the Banktrack website (see more in https://www.banktrack.org/project/amazarsky_pulp_and_paper_mill) and sent it to potential Chinese investors and also we wrote letters to Shenzhen and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges. We won in both cases and 700 000 ha of natural forests were saved.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

It is hard to protect forests in Russia, because industry always has priorities. That's why we used our contacts with foreign NGOs. We translated into English information about potential forest destruction and widely distributed it through Banktrack.org, to EPN groups and to potential investors. Our "know how" is communication with Stock Exchanges (in Shenzhen and Hong Kong) where we reported about problems of potential Chinese investors of harmful projects in Russia. But to save forests from one investor it is only half of decision. Our task is to organize new protected areas on the saved territories that noone can come again. It is our task now and we look for funding to organize protected areas on these 1 million ha of natural forests.

5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?

Collaboration is the key factor in our project. Collaboration in regional level with Krasnoyarsk administration and Parliament helped us jointly oppose to Moscow based company to protect local forests. NGO colleagues from China EPN helped us to translate our letters from English to Chinese and we sent such letters to potential investors of Amazar PSM. The same help we got from Friends of the Earth Japan in communication with potential Japanese investors of Angara Paper project. Collaboration with Banktrack.org helped us to put dodgy deals and widely distribute information about problems in Siberia. Collaboration with other Russian and foreign NGOs helped in our communication with Stock Exchanges and with potential investors. It also demonstrated strength of global environmental movement for protection of Siberian forests. We need more collaboration with donor community, because we have only 1 donor for our project and it was not possible to find money for our project inside Russia.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

Protection from logging more than 1 million ha of natural forests is very important input into climate mitigation, protection of natural biodiversity, clean water and air. We engaged into our project dozens of officials and politicians in Krasnoyarsk and Zabaikalsky regions and much more ordinary citizens from Krasnoyarsk, Lesosibirsk, Yeniseisk, Chita and Mogocha cities. We communicated with many NGOs from Russia and abroad, distributed information and received compliments for our work. We do not want to stop now and look for assistance for organizing protected areas in these saved forests. Also we want to multiply our experience in other regions of Russia and abroad for saving natural ecosystems. We contacted Greenpeace, IUCN, Global Forest Coalition and other NGOs. We want to make presentations on successes of our project in the CBD COP 15 in Kunming, China and in UNFCCC COP 26 in Glasgow, UK to advocate for better role of boreal forests in climate and biodiversity protection.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

We want to distribute outcomes of our project widely, organize national and international webinars and online trainings (that is important during and after COVID-19 pandemics), develop a guide for NGOs opposing large harmful projects and translate it into different languages. We will look for other projects that are harmful for remaining natural ecosystems in Amazon, Congo basins and other regions and advise local NGOs on how to oppose harmful investments and stop such projects. Together with other Russian NGOs we are involved in development of the new Russian Forest Code where we try to promote better focus on environmental and social values of natural forests not economic ones that prevail in the current Forest Code.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?

We cooperate with local start ups that promote eco-tourism and collection of non-timber forest products (berries, mushrooms, nuts, medicinal herbs) in the natural forests that we saved from logging. These small companies were our allies in the fight for protection of forests in advocacy and lobbying on the local and national levels. There are many Indigenous People in these territories that want to continue there traditional lifestyles (hunting, fishing, traditional medicine, etc.). Local activists supported us against construction of Paper Mills and many of them support us in organizing protected areas in these saved forests. Status of protected areas will save these forests from logging.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

In the past our project did not require much funding. In 2017-2019 we had small grants (5000 USD per year) for our lobyying and advocacy work. But in 2020-2022 we need a higher budget for field expeditions to proposed protected areas and continue to oppose industry plans for logging these natural forests. Participation in this Act for Biodiversity Challenge is our attempt to distribute information and attract attention of potential donors to our project. Also we will continue looking for other donors through our foreign partners. We applied for several grant competitions for forest conservation. We do not need additional funding for distribution of our knowledge on advocacy and lobbying for protection of natural forests in other places.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

I (Andrey Laletin) am chair of NGO "Friends of the Siberian Forests" (FSF) and I have part time involvement in this project. There are 3 strong Board members (2 academics and 1 activist) and about 10 local activists - all volunteers. In 2017 government blamed our NGO as "foreign agent" and we lost main funding. From 1996 till 2017 FSF implemented more than 20 different projects, our yearly budget achieved 200 000 USD. Now we still are involved in protection of Siberian forests but voluntary.

11. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Search engine

12. Connection to Biodiversity: How does your project directly contributes to preserving and/or restoring biodiversity? Please share data to support your answer.

Saving natural forests from logging means protection of their natural biodiversity. 1 000 000 ha that we saved from logging are situated in the taiga biom that is rich of natural species of flora and fauna adapted to cold climate (https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/taiga-biome.php). Flora of the Eastern Siberia (where 1 000 000 ha of saved forests grow) consists of 2300 species (Malyshev, L. I., G. A. Peshkova. 1979. Nuzhdajutsja v ohrane – redkie I ischezajushe rastenuja Tsentral’noj Sibiri. [Rare plants of Central Siberia]. Nauka, Novosibirsk). For fauna - in Krasnoyarsk region there are 4 species of amphibians, 2 species of reptiles, 203 species of birds and about 80 mammals (Syroechkovskij, Rogacheva 1980). The Enisey River and its tributaries contain 42 species of fish. There are 11 nationally threatened vertebrate species, including Aquila chrysaetos, Pandion haliaetus, Falco peregrinus, Ciconia nigra and Grus monacha. (https://www.worldwildlife.org/ecoregions/pa0601).

13. Example: Please walk us through one or two concrete examples that show how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address.

In the both regions of our project (Lesosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk region) and Amazar (Zabaikalsky region) we contacted with local NGOs and small busynesses (eco-tourism, collection of non-wood forest products, fisherman, etc.) that depend on natural forest and did not want it disappear. They helped us in our advocacy and lobby activities to oppose logging of natural forests. Our contacts with Krasnoyarsk regional government and Parliament helped to win court cases against Moscow based company Angara Paper and protect more than 350 000 ha of natural forests near Lesosibirsk. Also we connected with Russian national and foreign NGOs including Banktrack.org to publicize the cases. NGOs from China and Japan helped us to translate our letters to investors into Chinese and Japanese languages. NGO letters to Shenzhen and Hong Kong stock exchanges helped us to stop investments to China donors of Amazar PSM project and save more than 700 000 ha of natural forests in Zabaikalsky region.

14. Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem in your environment? How does your proposed project differ from these other approaches?

I did browsing on changemakers.org and looked at majority of 180 projects for this Act for Biodiversity Challenge, but I did not find similar projects. There were several projects using innovation mapping, but they are not essential to save forests from logging that we did in our project. There were many projects that tried to protect different species of animals or plants. But our project protects the whole ecosystem and all natural animals and plants in their connectivity. So I think that this project is unique and it will be important to widely distribute its methodology and apply in many different countries to save biodiversity on ecosystems level (not only in forest biom) and not only individual species.

15. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?

It is a first time when I apply for any award with this project. Only in January 2020 we won our case in the Hong Kong stock exchange against investor of the Amazar PSM - Kiu Hung International Holdings Ltd. and saved from logging 700 000 ha of natural forest in Zabaikalsky region https://environmentalpaper.org/2020/01/the-end-of-the-misguided-amazar-pulp-mill-project/. I drafted a letter for Environmental Paper Network and send another one.

16. Financial Sustainability – funding breakdown: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating an estimated percentage that comes from each source.

individual donations or gifts _0__% foundation or NGO grants _100__% (foundation grants) bequests _0__% corporate contributions _0__% grants or contracts 100___% (grants from foundation) earned income (product or services sales, licensing, franchising, consulting, financing, etc.) _0__% other __0_%

17. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge? How would you invest the prize money to leverage your work?

It will be necessary to distribute widely our approach to help many groups in different countries to protect biodiversity on ecosystem level against harmful projects. We want to publish a guide for NGOs and translate it in different languages. During and after COVID-19 pandemics we can organize webinars and other online trainings sharing our success stories and inspiring others. I want to participate in CBD COP-15 in Kunming, China and in UNFCCC COP-26 in Glasgow, UK and make presentations on important role of Siberian taiga forests for global biodiversity and role in climate change mitigation and adaptation. For ultimate protection of 1 000 000 ha of forests that were saved from logging it would be necessary to organize legal protected areas in these territories. I plan to organize conservation fund that will attract contributions from organisations and people for protection of natural Siberian forests.

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Photo of Marco Estrada

Permafrost conservation is one of the great challenges in coping with mitigating the harmful effects of climate variability and global warming and much more in the remaining areas of natural forests in the Nordic areas. This protection becomes a human need and a fundamental right, so the enactment of laws aimed at its protection is the fundamental basis for success, which involves making the problem visible both locally, regionally and globally, making Awareness that its conservation concerns and benefits us all regardless of the geographical location where we are.
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