Mondi is an international packaging and paper group with significant forest management operations in South Africa and Russia. We believe sustainable development is fundamental to our success. Our strategic approach enables us to better respond to risks and opportunities associated with global challenges including climate change, ecosystem degradation, resource scarcity and population growth.
We have conducted an assessment on the Mezen River catchment in Russia, where local people depend on fish - Atlantic salmon, a commercially valuable species - as a key source of nutrients. This is important to us because the communities believe that logging operations have significantly affected the water levels and fish population. Extensive clear cutting in previous years was the only substantial industrial activity in catchment area.
Our aim was to develop constructive dialogue with stakeholders across the landscape and define the most important long-term impacts on fish resources and fresh water ecosystems, identify appropriate mitigation measures and determine metrics to measure success.
Our analysis found that since commercial fishing stopped in the early 1980s, there has been no reliable statistical data on fish population available for the Mezen river.
In 2011, the methodology to track the number of active salmon spawning was adapted with local experts and stakeholders. Initial findings indicated that illegal and non-controlled fishing had a large negative impact on fish populations. Some expert stakeholders suggested that changes in annual fish population is the result of climate fluctuations, for example high or low water levels due to heavy rainfall or drought.
The main conclusion we can currently draw is that illegal fishing and changes in the local climate have stronger effects on the fish population than logging operations.
We continue to support the Mezen River project with a focus to improve sustainable management practices for fish resource extraction and restoration. We shifted our impact assessment of logging operations to other water courses to identify more obvious correlations.