From: World Wildlife Fund, WWF
Published August 2, 2010 09:23 AM

Russia tiger habitat gets a boost with protection of key tree species

Moscow, Russia, 29 July 2010, World Tiger Day—the Russian government has introduced measures to protect the Korean pine, a key species found in Amur tiger habitat in the Russian Far East.

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.

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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 carry on.

"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 Programme Officer with TRAFFIC Europe-Russia.

"The new measures will need to be backed up with appropriate enforcement action," added Vaisman.

Analysis of export data show the commercial trade in Korean pine timber rising over the last decade, in spite the global economic downturn which 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 Co-ordinator with the Amur branch of WWF Russia.

The recently introduced measures come in the midst of a particularly active year for tiger conservation.

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