The total area of the Russian Forest Fund covers ca. 1,181 million ha, out of which 886 million ha (= 75,0%) are forested and 763 million ha (= 64%) are stocked. The Federal Forest Service of Russia exercises control over 94% of the total forest fund area and 91% of the total growing stock of Russia. Among other forest owners, the largest are agricultural organizations (collective farms, State farms) with a share of 4% of Russia’s forest lands.
Categories of Forests:
The forests of the European and Asian parts of Russia are subdivided into three groups in accordance with their ecological and economic importance:
The first group comprises forests with primary functions in protection of watersheds and other ecologically important functions. This group also includes forests of scientific, historical and socio-cultural values.
The second group comprises forests in densely populated areas, protection forests and forests of limited exploitation values.
The third group comprises forests of densely wooded regions with mainly exploitation value. These forests are managed under sustainable forestry management for meeting national economic and export demands.
In the forests under the jurisdiction of the Federal Forest Service of Russia, three groups of main species (coniferous, high- and low density broadleaved) cover 638 million ha (90.4% of the total stocked area): 508 million ha (72%) coniferous species, 113 million ha (16%) low density broadleaved and 17 million ha (2.4%) high density broadleaved species.
The predominant coniferous species is Larch (Larix spp.). Low density broadleaved tree stand are predominantly composed of Birch (Betula spp.; mainly European birch [B. pendula] and White birch [B. pubescens]). Despite taking the second place among low density broadleaved species, aspen (Populus tremula) forests cover an area 4.5 times less compared with the birch area. Oak dominates within group of high density broadleaved species. About 55% of oak stands (composed mainly of Common oak – Quercus robur) are concentrated in the European part of Russia, and the rest – in the Far East – almost completely of Mongolian oak (Q. mongolica). Stone birch belongs also to high density broadleaved species. Such a collective name involves several species of Birches with dark-coloured bark and very hard wood. They are found in Eastern Siberia and the Far East. As regards areas covered, stands of Stone birch take second place after oak forests within the group of high density broadleaved species. Other high density broadleaved species are Hornbeam (Carpinus), Ash (Fraxinus), Maple (Acer), and Elm (Ulmus); these species cover a very small area.
Three main forest species groups contribute 97.9% (= 71.6 billion m3) of the total standing volume, including 78.9% (57.7 billion m3) of coniferous, 16.6% (12.1 billion m3) of low density broadleaved and 2.4% (1.8 billion m3) of high density broadleaved.
Russian forests produce timber of various specifications and grades, valuable both in the domestic and world markets. In 1993 the volume of merchantable wood harvested amounted to 174 million m3.
A considerable discrepancy has remained between the European-Urals and Asian parts of Russia with respect to both growing stock and final harvesting. The yield of mature and overmature stands in the European-Urals part amounts to only 19% of that available in the whole country, whereas this part contributes 57% of the harvested wood. Over the last 25 years the share of wood harvested in the Asian part has increased by 10%, but a tendency toward its reduction during recent years has been observed.
The Russian forests are a unique source of wild fruits and berries, nuts and mushrooms, valuable medicinal herbs and raw materials for various sectors of industry.
On the forest lands of Russia 24 national parks have been set aside up to now totalling 2,500,000 ha.
Forest Restoration and Protection:
Reforestation works are carried out on vast areas of Russian forest lands. Planting, sowing and natural regeneration improvements are carried out on cuts, burns and glades. As a result of these works the area to be reforested in Russia decreased from 3.02 million ha to 2.10 million ha between 1966 and 1993, mainly in the European-Urals part. During this period the total area of artificial stands increased nearly 5 times, their share in the total stocked forest area of Russia amounts to 1.9%, and to 8.2% in the European-Urals regions.
In the steppe and forest-steppe regions of both European-Urals and Asian parts of Russia, large areas are subject to protective afforestation. In 1993 the total area of protective forest stands was 3.0 million ha, including 1.6 million ha of erosion control stands, and 1.2 million ha of field shelterbelts.
Thinning and sanitation cuttings are conducted to obtain productive forest stands of highly valuable trees, to improve the quality of species composition and forest health.
Each year between 12,000 and 34,000 wildfires are recorded in Russian forests. Forest fire survey and control actions are taken by the Aerial Forest Fire Protection Service Avialesookhrana on more than half of Russia’s forest lands (see reports by N. Andreev and G. Korovin).
The average forest area affected annually by insects and diseases ranges from 1.5 to 2.5 million ha. In 1993 more than 40,000 ha of forests were killed by these causes. Control of pests and diseases is carried out annually on an area exceeding 500,000 ha. Biological management methods (application of bacteriological and virus preparations) are used on 85% of this area.
All the forest lands are now explored. The area studied and inventoried with ground-based methods increased nearly three times between 1966 and 1993, and it comprises now about two-thirds of the total Russian forest area. Other forests (situated mainly in the mountainous and the less accessible regions of Siberia and the Far East) have been studied and included into the forest account by means of other survey methods. Forest planning and inventory works are carried out by 13 enterprises employing 3,300 people.
The scientific potential of the Federal Forest Service of Russia is presented now by 10 research institutes and 18 forest research stations in which 1867 people are involved in research. In addition, more than 1,000 scientists wok in the forest institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences and in the national higher educational institutions (universities).
This information was taken from the brochure PECA ROCCHH (“Russian Forests”)
published by the Federal Forest Service of Russia (ISBN 5-88305-004-2).