The forest environmental frontier in Russia: Between sustainable forest management discourses and 'wood mining' practice

Ambio. 2021 Dec;50(12):2138-2152. doi: 10.1007/s13280-021-01643-6. Epub 2021 Oct 21.


With 20% of the world's forests, Russia has global potential in bioeconomy development, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation. However, unsustainable forest management based on 'wood mining' reduces this potential. Based on document analysis, participant observations and interviews, this article shows how non-state actors-environmental NGOs and forest companies-address forest resource depletion and primary forest loss in Russia. We analyse two key interrelated forest discourses driven by non-state actors in Russia: (1) intensive forest management in secondary forests as a pathway towards sustained yield and primary forest conservation; (2) intact forest landscapes as a priority in primary forest conservation. We illustrate how these discourses have been integrated into policy debates, institutions and practices and discuss their relation to relevant global discourses. The article concludes that despite successful cases in conserving intact forest landscapes, there is still a frontier between sustainable forest management discourses and forestry practice in Russia.

Keywords: Forest discourses; Intact forest landscapes; Intensive forest management; Non-state actors; Russia; Sustainable forest management.

MeSH terms

  • Biodiversity
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Forestry
  • Forests
  • Humans
  • Wood*