WWF Russia and RFP Group, the largest forest management holding company in the Russian Far East, have signed an agreement on protection of high conservation value forests (HCVFs) in Khabarovsky province.
The agreement has been signed on 14 May 2020. More than 110 thousand hectares of the unique forests of Khabarovsky province are given the status of High Conservation Value Forests, the forest areas where industrial logging is banned and the construction of forest roads is prohibited.

In total, 20 unique forest areas within the RFP Group lease were delineated as HCVFs, including subalpine hardwood forests complexes, rare tall grass spruce forests, peat swamp forests and other HCVF categories.

According to EvgenyChuvasov, head of sustainable forest management department of WWF Russia Amur branch:
“Signing the agreement is the result of work not only of WWF and RFP Group. A great number of scientists were involved in the field activities. Every HCVF area was delineated after the field expedition, data collection and its detailed analysis. The first field expedition was organized in 2011, and today, 9 years later, we officially record the results of that work on paper. By comparison: total forest area under RFP Group protection is three times exceeds the area of the Ussuriisky Nature Reserve.”

The works on delineating of the high conservation value forests will be continued till 2021. The agreement requires carrying out a number of actions to identify strictly protected zones of old-growth forests. The old-growth forests are virgin forests that have not been disturbed by human activity. They preserve the natural forest dynamics and, as a result, form the mosaic of natural ecosystems providing high level of biodiversity.

According to Dmitry Valtfogel, CEO of RFP Group:
«RFP Group is a responsible forest user that takes care of environment protection. We take all possible measures for complete recovery of forestry crops, conduct works on forest restoration, help in fighting forest fires providing staff and equipment. We are interested not only in enhancement of economic efficiency, but in compliance with high environmental standards and principles of social responsibility. Our goals of economic growth and growth of the company are closely connected to preserving healthy environment and sustainable use of forest resources. It’s very important for us that our holding enterprises ensure biodiversity conservation.”

WWF Russia and RFP Group negotiations on determing HCVFs have resulted in the establishment of Shaman-Yai Wildlife Refuge in Khabarovsky province. In summer 2012, with WWF support the first expedition of scientists and experts of public organizations was organized to Tiul-Shaman Mountain Range located on the territory leased by RFP Group. That time it was a miracle to discover the unique “island” of Ussury taiga - the refuge of coniferous forests surrounded by typical northern flora of the lower Amur River. After negotiations, RFP Group agreed to abandon a part of leased territories, and WWF staff jointly with scientists started the work on upgrading status of the future wildlife refuge. In the end of 2017, the government of Khabarovsky province has signed the Decree to establish Shaman-Yai Wildlife Refuge, protected area of 50 thousand hectares.