A loving relationship between a community and protected area in Russia

Villagers see tangible benefits from safeguarding forested lands ─ now they look to the future 

People

In mid-May, Russia’s Polistovsky Natural Reserve (PNR) convened a seminar of surrounding villagers and officials from regional protected areas to discuss the effectiveness of the Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG II) programme. “We wanted to demonstrate that protected areas represent a precious resource to help villages face ever growing socio-economic challenges,” says Natalia Milovidova, FLEG II Consultant for IUCN in Russia. For the areas surrounding PNR, the benefits to the local villagers have been coming to fruition.

A blossoming ecotourism sector is just one of the early tangible benefits supported by the FLEG programme, which has been active in the area since 2010. Perhaps a more sublime suite of benefits originates from the FLEG-supported Masters Classes. These classes are a prime example of varied approaches to sharing economically profitable knowledge on non-timber forest products throughout the community. From mushrooms to handicrafts aimed primarily at the tourist market, community benefits are being realised while intrinsically enhancing the value, and therefore protection, of local forests.

But there is ample opportunity to do more. Another topic on the agenda of this seminar focused on the future and the local potential of forest landscape restoration (FLR) in the region.  “The involvement of local communities is a key factor in efficient forest resource management and increased landscape functionality,” says Andrey Zaytsev, FLEG II Country Program Coordinator for IUCN in Russia, “The successful partnership formed with the communities in Bezhanitsky District provides a solid basis for FLR. This approach is a particularly effective way of addressing local needs and contributing towards the achievement of the goals set by the Bonn Challenge. The administrations of the PNR and of other reserves expressed a keen interest in exploring the possibility of implementing FLR in the region”.

For more information and photos on this seminar see this ENPI East FLEG II website.

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