Ecologist Andrey Laletin: "It's time to make reserves in Siberia, but not to build a pulp and paper mill there"

Ecologist Andrey Laletin: "It's time to make reserves in Siberia, but not to build a pulp and paper mill there"

24 December 2020, 18:08
Fires and total felling in the Angara region caused irreparable damage to the taiga. If the construction of pulp and paper mills is allowed now, relict forests, which in Europe have survived only here, will be under the threat of deforestation.

Here it is necessary not to produce cellulose, but to make reserves, ecologists say.

Novye Izvestia talked about the unique forests on the Yenisei and Angara and the danger hanging over them with ecologist, candidate of biological sciences Andrey Laletin, co-chairman of the Russian Socio-Ecological Union.

- Does the Krasnoyarsk Territory need a pulp and paper mill?

- I think they are not needed. We do not have enough raw material base. There, in the region of Lesosibirsk, forests have already been very much cut down, and the pulp and paper mill needs to be built so that the raw material base would be for many, many years to come. In addition, it is planned to build a second pulp and paper mill at the Angara. They announced that there will be two plants in the Krasnoyarsk Territory. It's not good at all.

- Did you assess the possible damage?

- There are investors in Lesosibirsk and Angara. I believe that felling will be carried out in primary forests that need to be protected. This is the wealth that Russia still owns. There are no such forests left in Europe at all, but we have remained in the north of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, in the north of the Irkutsk Region, in Yakutia. These are unique old-growth forests that have never been cut down before. These forests need to be protected, nature reserves or national parks organized. This is the opinion of many scientists, not only mine. I myself used to work at the Forest Institute, taught ecology at the Technological University, at the Krasnoyarsk State University. I am sure that these forests need to be protected and never cut down.

- If the forests are assigned the status of a nature reserve or a national park, how can the pulp and paper mill work?

- And for the pulp and paper mill, other technologies are needed - for birch and aspen. Now we have a lot of secondary forests in place of old growth forests. After felling and fires, which destroyed a lot of our forests. It is necessary to calculate the raw material base, it is necessary to calculate the haulage shoulder, because it will be unprofitable. It seems to me that this plant is planned to be able to receive loans for the approved project. In recent years, not a single new pulp and paper mill has been built in Russia. It is, of course, for the best. They steal, but the forests do not suffer. And if they start construction, will they start cutting? This is what has happened in recent years: first came the Angara-Peypa company. She cut down a lot, underpaid taxes to our region, and so she had to be asked. It went bankrupt. Then the Sibles company came to the same forests, to the same raw material base. She paid taxes, conducted felling and also planned to build a pulp and paper mill.

- When felling is planned, is there a mandatory recovery planting in the contract?

- We have restoration plantings in Siberia in coniferous forests do not work. No matter how much spruce and cedar have been planted, they do not survive. They either burn out or do not compete with grass, birch, aspen. Everything that lands, everything dies. This money is wasted. Even if they plan to plant forest crops, even if they plant them regularly, they never grow to the forest, they never survive.

- How do you see the way out of the situation? The region must develop, but the forests must also be preserved.

- Old-growth forests should be abandoned. And those that have already been cut down, birch and aspen forests grow there. Coniferous undergrowth is gradually rising in them. Our coniferous forests go through a change of species. In the area of Lesosibirsk there is taiga. And these taiga forests are fir (it is not restored by crops at all), cedar and spruce can recover. But it is necessary constantly, every year to carry out weeding, thinning, cleaning. And we have no money for this, there is no culture of leaving either. Therefore, they are planted and abandoned. They are dying. Then, on the same squares, they are planted again and again. Follow the landing plan. Another "drink" of money.

- How do developed countries combine economic and environmental interests?

- If cuttings are planned in such forests, they should be gradual. For the pulp and paper mill, everything is cut down. Clear felling in these forests should be abandoned and gradual felling should be carried out. They cut down 10%, then, after ten years, the next 10%. Thus, in a hundred years we will take all one hundred percent, but we will not damage the forest a bit. By the way, when there is a clear felling, no one remembers about animals, birds, insects ... In such forests, if you carry out felling and plant replacement crops, insect pests settle there. It is highly undesirable to disturb the structure by clearcuts. In Scandinavia, in Canada, gradual felling is done. We don't have such a culture. We got a ticket - and everything was clear cut. They cut everything down with a chess net. And the soil is weathered.

- What is the risk of total deforestation?

- There is seasonal and permafrost in the North. And if the permafrost thaws, then methane comes out of it, which is 30 times more aggressive greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. This also contributes to climate change. If in the tropics over the years the temperature has changed by a tenth of a degree, then in our North it has changed by 2 - 3 degrees over the past hundred years. This is a very strong warming and acceleration of global climate change. There is no need to build a pulp and paper mill either in Lesosibirsk or in Boguchany. Even without a separate examination, the situation is obvious. It is clear that those who pay will receive an environmental impact assessment permitting construction. They will get a positive opinion if they pay those who will conduct the research. Since the year 2000, there has been a constant weakening of environmental legislation. To take everything as soon as possible - gold, oil, timber and make a profit.

- What is the attitude of the population? Are protests possible like in Shies?

- The population will be told about new jobs, about the safety of production for the environment. We have depressed areas. Many businesses were closed. The plant in Lesosibirsk is now bankrupt. Ten years ago, three factories worked very well there. But then LDK-1 was closed, now the Novoyeniseysk plant is being closed and bankrupt. And they produced products that were sold abroad. These were fiberboard, chipboard, shields. Deep wood processing. There are wars between the oligarchs, the redistribution of property. They say that Muscovites want to buy the Novoyeniseysk plant for a cheap price. And it is very promising, with modern technologies and well-established sales markets abroad. But all profitable production facilities are selected by other owners. By the way, these mills are the main competitors of the pulp and paper mill in terms of raw materials, there will be no more wood! And so now they are taken out for 200 km. And if they start building the pulp and paper mill ... everything has already been chopped up and burnt down. This is not profitable even for the owners! They will build, but the raw materials available will last for a maximum of 10 years! In case there are no fires over the years. And even for this period will not be enough. If we save the forests, tourists from all over the world will come to us to see what the real Siberian taiga is, as the Canadians did.

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