• Russia

Legal framework for forest management and timber trade of Russia

Forest governance

Until 2011, Russia did not have a common forest policy document, and its forest policy was only formalized through a set of different concepts, government programs and legislation. At the end of November 2011, the Public Ecological Council of the Federal Forest Agency (FFA) approved the development of the Russian Forest Policy through a participatory process together with interested government bodies, NGOs and the forest private sector.

The Russian Forest Code (04.12.2006 No.200 FZ - Federal Law) was adopted in December 2006. The code includes requirements on harvesting and commercialization of logs, in terms of documentation, measuring, marking, registry and transport.

The main supervisory body is the Federal Forestry Agency (FFA; Rosleskhoz in Russian), which since May 2012 reports to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology (Ukaz Prezidenta, 2012). The sphere of competence of the FFA includes: (1) control and supervision of forestry issues, except in protected areas; (2) public services; and (3) management of state forest assets (FAO, 2012). Plantation is not a form of forest management widely practiced in Russia.

Federal plenary powers for forest governance at the regional level are implemented through forestry departments in eight federal districts and the 83 federal subjects of the Russian Federation. Those plenary powers, such as validation of forest plans, concession of forest areas, organization of wood auctions, maintenance of a state forest register and monitoring, are implemented by state structures within the bodies of executive power of the subjects of the Russian Federation. At the field level, the structures are represented by forestry districts (lesnichestvo). (FAO, 2012).

Legal rights to harvest

There is no privately-owned forest in Russia - all forests are state-owned. Companies or individuals are entitled to utilize the forest resources of the State. Long-term rights to use the forest resource through commercial harvesting (for e.g. timber) within a particular forest area (Forest management unit - FMU) are allocated to logging companies for a period of 10 to 49 years. Short-term forest use (for e.g. timber harvesting) is also possible for organizations and citizens and is agreed directly with local authorities. (Source: CNRA, 2010).

A Forest lease agreement is concluded between the Regional Forest Agency or Regional Forest Management Division, by delegation of the FFA representing the Russian Government (the “Owner “) and the Forest User (leaseholder), and approved by the State Registration, through wood auctions or, in case of priority investment projects, without auction.

There are different types of harvesting “contracts” (official approvals of logging projects):

  • Contract passed with the State or Municipality in the framework of a long-term arrangement, on the basis of a set of three mandatory documents, in three steps. Once the Forest lease agreement (see above) is signed and registered, the Forest User within 6 months must prepare a Forest Use Project (FUP). The Project must among other specify the annual allowable cut (AAC) volume. Following the successful review of the FUP, the Forest User must finally provide an annual Forest Declaration to the Owner. Note: there is no “felling permit" document as such but, once all three documents have been successively reviewed and approved, the Forest User is allowed to start logging operation in the forest.
  • Procedure for (short-term) roundwood harvesting, for a period of maximum one year. The Forest User may start harvesting as soon as a Forest stands purchase agreement has been concluded between the Owner and a Forest User. Harvesting must also comply with the regional forestry regulations, and the volume of harvested timber may not exceed the volume specified in the agreement;
  • Contract awarded in accordance with requirements specified in the Forestry Regulations of the Regional Forest Management Division, in relation to forestry operations such as sanitary cutting or thinning outside of the leased area.

Taxes and fees

A minimum stumpage fee is stated in the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No.310 May 22, 2007 (last updated on January 06, 2020). This fee is the starting point in the wood auctions. The final fee (auction fee) may exceed the initial one by several times.

No other taxes, fees or royalties are due.

Timber harvesting activities

After harvesting activities have been finalized, the felling areas are submitted by the Forest User for an inspection by the Owner, based on sampling and according to the conditions and timeframes specified in forest rent agreement(s).

The Forest User submits an annual Forest use report to the Owner, which for each felling site includes the volumes of commercial timber specified in the “contract” and the actual volumes of harvested timber. Since 2018 the Forest Users must submit a report about forest use and reforestation activities with photos, videos or remote (satellite) sensing data attached.

Third parties’ rights

Indigenous people’s rights, related to forest resources, are guaranteed by the Federal Law No.82 “On Guaranties of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of Russian Federation”, adopted 30.04.1999.

Trade and transport

The set of trade and transport documents shall include:

  • Export contract (which should be registered in the Bank of the exporter);
  • Invoice;
  • Product specification;
  • Delivery notes or bill of landing;
  • Phytosanitary certificate;
  • Customs declaration.