The last large intact forests in Northwest Russia

Protection and sustainable use

image of The last large intact forests in Northwest Russia

The forests of Fennoscandia have been in human use for many purposes for centuries, and through the last decades industrialized and cultivated in a manner that can change their ecological function with respect to biodiversity at species and ecosystem levels. In Northwest Russia we can still find large, indigenous forests where human impact is low. They represent the last intact western taiga ecosystems of high value for biodiversity preservation in Russia and Fennoscandia as reservoirs and source habitats for future dispersal of taiga species. The Conference and Workshop in Steinkjer 2007 focused on these matters, but also the ecological importance of these forests for rural culture, socio-economic importance, industrial values and how protection and sustainable societies could go hand in hand. Many of the presentations given at the conference and workshop are here presented together with the Summary and Closing Statement worked out at the end of the sessions. The presentations cover many aspects from ecology, history and culture, conservation and management strategies, inventory tools for defining habitats of specific value to biodiversity, as well as implementation of environmental issues into the forestry laws and certification and educational tools for developing sustainable societies in a broad scale.



Sustainable forest management:

Sustainable development as a continuous process and sustainability as a long-term goal have started to engage new actors and stakeholders in relation to the use of goods, ecosystem services and values in forests and woodlands. A key aspect is to match these resources with the identification and development of products that are desired on different markets. Management and governance in this new situation implies a need to include not only stand and local spatial scales, but also regional as well as national and international levels. However, an important challenge is to build bridges in a geographical area among actors involved with different sustainability dimensions, actors in different sectors and at different societal levels, and different disciplines to facilitate the need for production and exchange of knowledge. Communication, education and public awareness are critically important, together with the need for transparent information about the state and trends of ecological, economic, social and cultural/spiritual dimensions of landscapes as social-ecological systems. The term landscape approach captures this and can be operationalized by applying concepts such as Model Forest, Biosphere Reserve, and traditional village systems. In this paper we advocate an approach that supports communication, education and public awareness and that relies on landscapes as laboratories for learning and knowledge production. We stress that to implement policies about sustainable development and sustainability, the context of landscapes in terms of environmental history, biophysical conditions, cultural heritage and modes for government and governance in the landscape need to be considered. We illustrate this idea by reviewing the challenges in Sweden and NW Russia using two urbanrural gradients (Bergslagen and Moscow regions) and two large northern river catchments (Engermandlven and Pinega). Finally, we discuss the challenge of applied interdisciplinary knowledge production where practice, education and research are integrated to address and solve real world problems.


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