Russia’s forests are the largest in the world. Stretching from the Baltic to the Sea of Japan, they encompass the last wild forests of Europe, make up the vast wilderness of Siberia, and provide habitat for the highly endangered Siberian tiger.
In recent decades, road-building, logging, and wildfires have increasingly degraded these ancient and previously largely intact forests. To protect some particularly valuable forests, the Russian government used data provided by Global Forest Watch Russia, a partnership between WRI and several Russian forest conservation groups.
Dr. Lars Laestadius leads WRI’s work in Russia. “The Russian government’s attitude toward non-governmental organizations is very cautious, but, at the same time, it realizes they have unique biodiversity data and maps on the country’s forests. Using satellite imagery and field visits, the Global Forest Watch Russia network mapped conservation values in Russia’s forests and made the results publicly available.”
These maps influenced the Russian government as it prioritized new areas for protection and drew the boundaries of three new national parks. Similarly, the forest-rich Republic of Karelia bordering Finland relied on Global Forest Watch Russia maps and data for its new forest plan, which outlines thirteen new protected areas and identifies future areas for protection.