The article analyzes the development of voluntary forest certification by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) system in Russia. The article is based on the review of diverse information sources, analysis of the reports of timber processing enterprises, personal observations during certification audits, discussions in workgroups, and information collected at training courses. We evaluated the present state of voluntary forest certification in Russia, analyzed non-compliances of the activity of Russian wood processing enterprises with the national standard FSC-STD-RUS-V6-1-2012 and indicated possible reasons for non-fulfillment of the requirements. We also presented problems in the development of forest certification in Russia and possible ways for its further development.
By the end of 2015, about 40 million hectares were certified, approximately 160 certificates were issued on forest management and 440 certificates on chain of custody. The 6th principle of the national forest management standard is the most problematic for logging enterprises. The principle concerns the requirements on the evaluation of impact of enterprise’s activity on the environment. About 40% of non-compliances identified by auditors referred to the indicators of the 6th principle.
We argue that the main problems of forest certification development in Russia are contradictions between the principles and the criteria of FSC and the requirements of Russian forest legislation, retention of biodiversity and high conservation value forests, lack of economic incentives for introduction and implementation of certification requirements, and high cost of audits. Despite the existing problems, the certification remains one of the most important instruments for achieving sustainable forest management in Russia.