Igor Chestin, the director of the Russian branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), yesterday announced that the WWF and Swedish furniture maker IKEA are to carry out a series of projects to protect Russian forests over the next three years. According to Chestin, around half of Russian timber is currently logged illegally, and this unsanctioned logging is causing serious damage to the Russian timber industry and the country's economy as a whole.
Chestin announced that the WWF and IKEA intend to develop a programme of voluntary timber certification based on the Forest Stewardship Council system and responsible forest management in Russia. They also intend to hold related thematic seminars for interested parties. In addition, with the help of experts from the Russian Nature Ministry and other government and public environmental protection organisations, they plan to initiate changes in Russian law to give harsher sentences for illegal logging, and increase the level of responsibility placed on timber producers.
According to Chestin, the programme will mainly concern North-West Russia (the Arkhangelsk and Vologda Regions) and Southern Siberia (the Irkutsk and Krasnoyarsk Regions). The programme will begin simultaneously in China, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Romania and Bulgaria.