Experts said the taiga in Russia’s Far East may suffer the fate of the fire-ravaged Moscow forests.
VLADIVOSTOK. August 18. VOSTOK-MEDIA – WWF-Russia has launched a fundraiser to protect the mixed coniferous-broad-leafed forests in the south of the Russian Far East, a home to Amur leopards and Siberian tigers, as wildfires are expected to reach the area this fall.
A WWF spokesman said the Far Eastern taiga may suffer the fate of the fire-ravaged Moscow forests since there is no state-run forest service.
“WWF is presently bolstering the fire-fighting ranks in the region,” the spokesman said. “WWF forms and trains fire-fighting brigades and also provides them with all the necessary equipment and machines, including bulldozers for clearing fireproof breaks, trailers for bulldozers, quad bikes, air-blowers, backpack sprayers and water pumps.”
In addition, WWF is raising awareness among local communities about the threats of wildfires and response measures. The fund is also considering installing cameras in forests to track wildfires.
The World Wide Fund for Nature focused its efforts on the Far Eastern districts of Khasansky, Ussuriysky and Nadezhdinsky.
“This area is the only place where Amur leopards live and is also home to many Siberian tigers,” said Denis Smirnov, forest program coordinator at the Amur regional branch of WWF-Russia. “There grow thick forests of black fir, which have the richest biodiversity among temperate forests,” he said.
Owing to its southern geographical location, the forests have the longest wildfire season: fires rage in the taiga twice a year – from March to May and from October to December.
In the period from spring 2008 to fall 2009 there was a natural catastrophe as nearly one-third of the forests were burned out.
However, WWF said they do not have enough funds to buy all the necessary equipment to combat potential wildfires and called on their supporters and partners to join the fire-prevention effort.
“Ecologists rely on their supporters and Corporate Club members and ask them to donate for the fire-fighting work through the WWF website, Sberbank and QIWI payment terminals,” WWF said in a statement.
“We really hope to receive prompt public's response to our appeal for help,” says Vera Beryozova, WWF-Russia Supporters program coordinator. “The more funds we get the more we are able to do to prevent potential tragedy this year.”
WWF has also stepped up its lobbying for a forest law reform. Experts at WWF have already outlined some primary steps. First of all, the Federal Forest Service should be reestablished.