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The oaks of Europe


The SEU Forest Campaign Has launched new program

THE OAKS OF EUROPE

Project goal

Conservation of the broadleaf forest ecosystems, prevention of their further fragmentation and degradation. Creating conditions for their restoration.

Objectives

To discover natural territories that need protection and selection of the areas for natural landscape restoration.

To stimulate public activities in the regions, to bring together state, commercial and non-commercial entities for practical work for oak grove conservation and restoration.

The problem

Even the Russian official structures seem to be concerned about the present condition of the oakgroves. According to official sources, oakgrove covered areas went down by 20% in the past 32 years. In 1966 it was 4,4 mln ha, in 1983 - 4,1 mln ha, in 1998 - 3,5 mln ha. As we know about the inaccuracies in Russian official statistics, we may assume that real situation is even worse.

Its analysis through the regions indicates that in some of them, like Tatarstan and Bashkiria oak forest area went down more than 30%.

This speed of destruction is compatible to the speed of destruction of tropical forests.

At the same time, oaks have large historical and cultural significance for different people living in Russia. There is tradition of protection for single trees and for groves. The situation with restoration is much worse. We also should note that these activities are mostly non-systemic local initiatives.

In the sense of biodiversity conservation broadleaf forests are highly important - as they have the most diverse ecosystems (though they have only 2% of all forested territory). But on the governmental level there is no understanding of the problem.

As a result of industrial and agricultural development, road construction, other human influences once wholesome broadleaf massives are fragmented and the ecosystems are destroyed.

As the result of centuries long use the best trees were cut and are no longer capable of self- restoration. This is true even for protected territories.

The project geography

Broadleaf and mixed forest areas of the European parts of Russia. The assumed regional "bases": Suzdal, Novgorod, Kaluga, Kozelsk, Moscow region, Cheboksary, Kazan (the list may be expanded during the project span).

Methods

The project plans following work

1. Situation study

For practical conservation activities territories covered by the broadleaf forests or needing landscape and ecosystem restoration.

Besides local ecosystem condition the existing group of interests within the regions (potential allies and enemies), the existence of scientific, organizational and management resources.

The result - the region "portrait", describing the region, its mapping and preparation of the action plan for specific region.

2. Activating the public.

  • inventory/acquaintance with the local active groups - throughout them search for potential partners
  • their resource and needs studying.
  • organising interaction between different groups and regions
  • assisting local groups in preparing and fulfillment of the practical activities

Within the framework of this project component local organizations will receive our assistance in forest areas inventory, protected territories projecting, oak seedling planting plots establishment, workshop organizing and conduct.

(The existing information means and information materials being developed will be used).

The result - development local and regional oak grove conservation and restoration programs, real conservation and restoration activities. Active local "bases" will emerge and the development of active "oak" network.

3. Collection and development of information and methodical materials.

This part of the project is proposed, as there is a lack of informational materials about on practical work on broadleaf forest conservation and restoration.

It includes

  • research and study of other countries experience on that (Germany, Scotland, Baltic region)
  • contacting scientists
  • contacting practitioners (there are some people already having both positive and negative experiences in oak planting)
  • archive work
  • study of the similar campaign experiences
  • publishing of the selected materials

Development and publishing of the set of informational materials and recommendations

It may include:

  • general information about the broadleaf forests current situation
  • how to organize conservation and restoration work
  • how to find allies
  • communications - getting the media and public on your side
  • practical recommendation for planting and care
  • creating a program

Public information kit, including

  • manual for teachers and children organization leaders
  • instructions for kids
  • instructions for youth
  • instruction for "general" audience

Media information kit

The result - a set of "tools" for campaign. All materials created will be passed to the regional and local organizations and will be accessible on the program site for download.

For information exchange and campaign current SEU network information channels will be used.

4. Legal and program part of the project

As we already stated, broadleaf forest on the official level are perceived only as a source of valuable timber. There is no understanding of oakgroves and other broadleaf forests as of valuable and diverse ecosystems.

  • basing on the previous on the previous project compounds we will asset local groups in development local/regional programs on broadleaf forest areas conservation and restoration, changing forest use practices in these regions
  • getting these programs on local/regional legislation level
  • development of joint program and oak network
  • as a prospective - including into federal programs parts relating to conservation and restoration of the unique landscape

Result - the legal acknowledgement of the problem, eliminating the legal - restrictive problems, actively working program will emerge.

Organizational resources and preparetional activities

The first version of the "Oaks of Russia" program was presented on VII ISEU Conference in Kiev (August 2000), and caused significant interest among the NGOs. At the project discussion it turned out that the broadleaf forest problem is of interest for international NGO community, and it was decided to develop the "Oaks of Europe" program. Russian, Moldavian and Ukrainian NGO showed their interest. The project was discussed at the Taiga Rescue Network Conference in September 2000.

The project will be managed by SEU Forest campaign jointly with SEU Center for Coordination and Information. This SEU office have long experience in nature protection activities and grant management, has strong connections to environmental and other groups within former Soviet Union and international community.

To inform community about the oak grove problems, developments and solutions, SEU Forest Campaign has established web-site oaks.forest.ru. Information about the project span is included into SEU weekly newsline for media "Ecosvodka", into bi-weekly "Forest news" and Forest Update, the Forest Bulletin and SEU News.

On the preparational stage of the project connections to the local organizations of Suzdal, Novgorod, Volgda, Kaluga regions, Chuvashia and Tatarstan were established.

Results expected

Establishment of the specially protected broadleaf forest territories network, functioning of the regional programs.

Creation of the informational and methodology basis for the further project development.

Establishment and functioning of the community consisting of organizations, experts and activists, constantly working on broadleaf forests problems.



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