17 Jan 2022 18:34

Ministries studying incentives for business for participation in forest climate projects, including preferential interest rates - Natural Resources Ministry

MOSCOW. Jan 17 (Interfax) - The key instrument for ensuring the growth of the absorptive capacity of forests in Russia remains state activity within the framework of the Environment national project. However, it is important that private business also takes part in this work. Ministries are now working on options for stimulating business to participate in forest climate projects. Such options could include special lending measures, such as preferential interest rates, Natural Resources Minister Alexander Kozlov told Interfax.

"In terms of carbon sequestration scale and duration of its accumulation, forests have no equal, so forest projects are a priority in Russia's climate strategy. Preservation of intact forests, protection of forests from fires and other causes of forest mortality, afforestation and reforestation will be important vectors of the Environment national project. But it is imperative that private business takes part in this work," he said.

"According to preliminary estimates by the Federal Forestry Agency, the following forest climatic projects can be implemented: in terms of forest protection from fires - in the Krasnoyarsk and Khabarovsk Territories, Yakutia, Buryatia, the Irkutsk Region and YNAO; on forest protection - in the Vladimir, Moscow, Ryazan, Volgograd, Orenburg, Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, and Omsk regions, Bashkiria and Yakutia; on forest regeneration - in the Lipetsk, Vologda, Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk, Irkutsk, and Kemerovo region, as well as the Krasnoyarsk and Trans-Baikal Territories," Kozlov said.

In these regions there is a large amount of work to be done to protect forests from fires and to protect against pests (primarily the Siberian silkworm, which damages hundreds of hectares per year). In the Krasnoyarsk Territory and Irkutsk Region, companies analyzed forest management methods, including use of forests for timber harvesting, features of reforestation and care of forests. Areas of clearcuts and burnt areas are included in the reforestation fund, but without the creation of forest cultures these categories of forest land overgrow.

According to estimates by the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP), the total contribution to carbon sequestration from the implementation of forest climate projects in the land use, land-use change and forestry sectors by 2030 could amount to 50 million tons of CO2 equivalent per year, Kozlov said. Meanwhile, in accordance with the Federal Law "On limiting greenhouse gas emissions," climate projects are voluntary: their implementation is linked to the interest and investments of business.

"In this regard, the key tools to increase the absorption capacity include state measures to protect forests from fires, protection and regeneration of forests. The volume of forest carbon sequestration by 2030 will increase by an additional 100 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year. At the same time, additional funding in 2023-2030 for activities under the "Development of forestry" state program will amount to 354 billion rubles and funding under the "Conservation of forests" federal project will amount to 102.8 billion rubles. It is necessary to create incentives and opportunities to attract private business to the process, in particular, we are now working with the Economic Development Ministry and the Industry and Trade Ministry of Russia. Mechanisms that will allow for attracting private business, this is there area of activity. In terms of support, we can talk about special lending measures, such as preferential interest rates," the minister said.

Some major Russian companies, such as Rusal , have already begun implementing forest climate projects aimed at planting trees and protecting forests from fires, Kozlov added.

According to the Low-Greenhouse Gas Emissions Strategy for Russia, adopted in October 2021, CO2 absorption should nearly double by 2050 and reach 1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent (actual absorption in the Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry sector was 535 million tons of CO2 equivalent), the minister said. As part of the preparation of the implementation plan for the strategy, a "Climate Projects" working group was created under the chairmanship of First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, with the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry overseeing its operations.

The Natural Resources Minister told Interfax earlier that Russia intends to prove its own methodology of forest calculation to the UN. "The West gives data that the carbon balance of managed Russian forests is 614.5 million tons of CO2 equivalent per year. But we have calculated that it is much higher," he said.

According to Kozlov, Russia has a new up-to-date source of data on the country's forests. In 2020, the first cycle of the State Forest Inventory was completed, during which direct field measurements of forest characteristics on permanent sample plots were carried out. Over 13 total years of work, from 2007 to 2020, more than 69,000 thousand such sites were set up.