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Russian Tiger Habitat Gets a Boost With Protection of Key Tree Species

Stricter Regulations Will Limit Illegal Logging of Korean Pine

Moscow, July 30, 2010 – The Russian government has introduced measures to protect Korean Pine, a key species found in Amur Tiger habitat in the Russian Far East, WWF and TRAFFIC announced 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.

To help regulate the logging, 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 continue.

“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,” Vaisman added.

Analysis of export data show an increasing commercial trade in Korean pine over the last decade, despite the global economic downturn that has reduced trade in most timber species. 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.

“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 Coordinator with the Amur branch of WWF Russia.

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 Program Manager.

On 14 July, the 13 countries with surviving tiger populations drafted a historic declaration on tiger conservation. The declaration commits the countries to double the number of remaining wild tigers by 2022. Currently there are as few as 3,200 wild tigers in the world.

Russia will host a global 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,” Verheij said.