gathererThe joint project of WWF-Russia and Citi Foundation is aimed at supporting small family businesses which collect and market non-timber forest products (NTFP).

WWF and Citi Foundation have worked together in Kamchatka for four years supporting small communities and family businesses which collect and market NTFP. The joint project is aimed at improving the socio-economic environment and living conditions for people in remote villages by creating new legal jobs as an alternative to grey- and black-market jobs, like poaching. It intends to create economic instruments to involve local residents and decision-makers in biodiversity conservation and sustainable natural resources consumption.

A part of that project is business consultancy. Remote areas of the peninsula are popular for ecotourism, plant gathering and souvenirs production. However, residents of those areas sometimes lack essential understanding of business mechanisms and marketing. That’s why WWF together with local government and other parties involved organizes seminars for businessmen from remote villages.

According to research data from Bystrinski and Nalychevski Nature Parks, the targeted non-timber plants concentration is very high in those areas. Blueberry, sweetberried honeysuckle, cowberry, bracken, ramson, mushrooms and birch sap are popular both in regional and international market, especially in South Korea and Canada.

The other part is financial support through micro-grants. Businessmen can apply and receive micro-grants based on the submission of their newly formed business plans. The money is spent for necessary equipment and machinery, renting production facilities.

Major funding streams in the framework of the joint project go for:

  • creating and developing new entrepreneurships which collect, process and market NTFP;
  • assistance in high surplus value products production;
  • developing of small businesses aimed at collecting and marketing NTFP;
  • creating new stable sources of income and new jobs based on collecting and marketing NTFP;
  • assistance in achieving production objectives, meeting standards’ requirements;
  • promoting traditional lifestyle;
  • attracting people’s and government’s attention to the problem of developing an untraditional form of sustainable and rational environmental management, spreading knowledge and information about its value for nature conservation in Kamchatski krai.

About 40 new jobs will be created this year in Kamchatka in the framework of the joint project. The number of new jobs created is probably the major marker of the project successfulness. The project is aimed at people in remote settlements, where poaching for salmon has been the only source of income for decades. Although new jobs are seasonal, they give a real and legit source of income for many families, distracting them from unlawful activity. As a result, the joint project of WWF and Citi Foundation, meant to support wild harvesting, is actually trying to solve long-term problems: salmon conservation and struggle with poaching.

The joint project of WWF-Russia and Citi Foundation ended in 2017. However, WWF-Russia is aimed to continue supporting small businesses and is searching for new donors.