Russia protects tree species critical to tiger habitat

It’s a case of the protection of one species being good for the protection of another.

The Russian government has introduced measures to protect the Korean pine, a key species found in Amur tiger (Siberian tiger) habitat in the Russian Far East, WWF and TRAFFIC said today.

“Rising global demand for Korean pine has led to a massive increase in logging, much of it carried out illegally, in Russia’s remaining temperate forests,” the two conservation organizations said in a news statement. TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, is a joint program of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and WWF.

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NGS stock photo of Siberian (Amur) tiger by Michael Nichols

To help regulate the logging of Korean pine, Russia has listed the Korean pine in Appendix III of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). The listing means exports of Korean pine timber from Russia will need CITES permits, which will make it harder for the illegal timber trade to carry on, the WWF/TRAFFIC statement explained.

World Tiger Day

July 29 (today) was designated World Tiger Day by governments of the 13 tiger range countries, who met in Hua Hin, Thailand, last January. 2010 is the Chinese Year of the Tiger.

“TRAFFIC and WWF Russia warmly welcome the measures to regulate the trade in Korean pine timber, which is good news for the local people whose livelihoods depend on the trade in Korean pine nuts and for amur tigers which live where these trees grow,” said Alexey Vaisman, senior program officer with TRAFFIC Europe-Russia. “The new measures will need to be backed up with appropriate enforcement action.”


Analysis of export data show the commercial trade in Korean pine timber rising over the last decade, in spite the global economic downturn which has reduced trade in most timber species, the conservation organizations added. “The new measures will benefit the legal pine nut trade in the region which WWF and TRAFFIC have been promoting as a means of providing legal and sustainable income.”

Caption: Korean cedar pine (Pinus koraiensis). This particular tree is around 200 years old. Bikin river valley, Russian Far East. (Photo © WWF-Canon/Vladimir FILONOV)

“We hope the listing in CITES will finally help break the system of illegal logging of Korean Pines and help the survival of trade in alternative, sustainable forestry products from the region,” said Evgeny Lepeshkin, Forestry Projects Co-ordinator with the Amur branch of WWF Russia.

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“The recently introduced measures come in the midst of a particularly active year for tiger conservation,” WWF and TRAFFIC said.

“Around 400 Amur tigers survive in the native Korean pine forests of the Russian Far East and north-east China, where the pine nuts are an essential food source for tiger prey species.”

“The fate of the Amur Tiger is inextricably linked to the safeguard of the Korean Pine,” said Pauline Verheij, joint TRAFFIC and WWF Tiger Trade Programme Manager.

On 14 July, the 13 countries with surviving tiger populations drafted an historic Declaration on Tiger Conservation.

The Declaration commits the countries to double the number of remaining wild Tigers, whose population currently stands at 3,200, by 2022.

Russia will host a Heads of Government Tiger Summit later this year where it is anticipated the Declaration will be formally signed.

“Russia is putting in place the kind of measures that will help with the commitment by Tiger range countries to double numbers of wild Tigers by 2020,” said Verheij.

Posted by David Braun

Siberian (Amur) tiger photo 21.jpg

NGS stock photo of Siberian (Amur) tiger by Michael Nichols

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More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn