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The Samarga watershed is located in the northeastern corner of Primorskiy Region in the Russian Far East. This pristine, roadless 2-million-acre watershed contains some of the last large areas of unprotected wilderness in Russia's biodiverse Sikhote-Alin mountains. The Samarga is an important refuge for wild Pacific salmon populations and is one of the last strongholds for the rare Japanese cherry salmon. The Samarga provides habitat to species including the Amur (Siberian) tiger and Himalayan black bear.
The forests of the Samarga are also the traditional hunting and fishing grounds for the Udege people, about 200 of whom live in the remote village of Agzu, halfway up the Samarga watershed. For years, the Udege have fought to protect their forests as an officially recognised "Territory of Traditional Natural Resource Use," which would guarantee their right to have a voice in natural resource use. The Udege worked with environmental groups to develop sustainable economic development plans that were based on fishing, hunting, ecotourism, and use of non-timber forest products and that would protect the forests from logging. While the Udege were able to guarantee their rights to wildlife resources, the regional government - interested in the Samarga's timber resources -- blocked efforts to designate the Samarga as a Territory of Traditional Nature Use.
Now, the situation has taken a turn for the worse. Earlier this year, the Primorskiy Regional government auctioned logging rights to more than 1 million acres of the Samarga watershed to the Russian timber company "Terneyles" without informing or receiving the consent of the local community. The auction was completed without any environmental review - even though this is a violation of Russian law.
The native community "Agzu" (Samarga watershed), Bureau for Public Regional Campaigns (Vladivostok), Pacific Environment, and Friends of the Earth-Japan are asking for your urgent help! Faxed letters to the new governor of Primorskiy Region and to the chair of the regional Duma (legislature) can help change this situation. International pressure can help convince the regional government to annul the auction and to guarantee indigenous rights to the watershed in the form of a Territory for Traditional Nature Use.
Please act now! A sample letter can be requested from the e-mail address below. Please print the sample letter on your letterhead and fax it to Russia as soon as possible! Please also send a copy of your letter to Pacific Environment at +1-510-251-8838 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, please contact:
David Gordon, +1-541-345-9924
Dave Martin, +1-510-251-8800 x 306
Xenia Soubotin, +1-510-251-8800 x 303,