Forests Resources of Russia
Russia’s forests are the ecological frameworks of the biosphere not only for this country, but for the whole Northern hemisphere of the planet as well. Twenty two percent of all forest land mass and 25 % of the world’s wood reserves belong to Russia. Forests take up 69% of all land in Russia. That is why rational and renewable usage of forest resources, as well as the protection and reproduction thereof, is not only a national task, but is imperative for all mankind. The Russian forest industry complex in 1997 united more than 30 thousand enterprises and provided for 2.3% of the GNP, 3,6% of exported industrial products, 10% of the overall production of non-foodstuffs, and 4.1% of gross profit. Due to unconsidered privatization and the absence of state help for the last ten years, the forest industrial complex suffered a collapse. In the most developed regions of Russia--where favorable natural conditions for forest cultivation exist--forest resources were undermined by their exploitation in the 1930’s-1970’s. First of all, highly productive coniferous forests near to areas of transport had been cut down.
Approximately 50 million hectares in the European part of Russia underwent “involuntary” changes in content; in other words, different breeds of trees began appearing in, and taking over, these forests. Coniferous forests, for example, were transplanted by small deciduous forests. The strategic task of forest industry complex is the reconstruction of indigenous coniferous phytoncides in conditions favorable for their growth.
At present, there are 14 million hectares of planted forests in Russia--concentrated mainly in the European part of Russia--which account for approximately 2% of forest land mass. This crisis which occurred in Russia nonetheless affected forest restoration activities; by 1997 forest restoration activities had been cut in half.
In order to increase the profitability of the forest industry complex it is important to increase the amount of export and to change its structure. It is, for example, more profitable to sell saw-timber cellulose, paper and cardboard as opposed to round timber. It is therefore necessary to restore the industrial production capacity of those sawmills which worked before 1990. In that particular year, 15,7 million m2 of timber went to export, whereas in 1997, only 4,8 million m2 were exported. Currently, 23% of all timber produced is exported. An increase in the export amount of saw-timber as well as an increase in deliveries of domestically produced saw-timber into domestic markets provides the opportunity to obtain the necessary funding to improve cellulose-paper and forest-chemical industries, which are in need of reconstruction due to ecological demands and the necessary replacement of outdated machinery with newer technology. One possible strategy for improving the Russian economy may be to increase the amount of gross home production of the forest industry complex by a minimum of three times.
To guarantee the sustainable development of the forest industry complex with the conservation of the global ecological significance of Russia’s forests it is necessary to improve the legal status of forest-managing entities at the regional and federal level. On the whole, there are 217.4 thousand people employed in the forest industry. Every worker has to manage 55.0 thousand hectares of the forest land. The average monthly pay of a forest-enterprise worker--an individual who works in extremely unfavorable and difficult conditions--was only 527 roubles in 1998. Under such conditions it is indeed unreasonable to expect any degree of sufficient activity from the forest protection institution. In 1997, fines for violations in the treating of forest land totaled only 526.5 thousand roubles, or 0.098% of expenditures for the forest-industry from the federal budget.
Russia’s forest’s contribution to the world processes of deposit and the prevention of the undesirable consequences of global warming is indeed substantial. On the whole, Russia’s forests absorb 262 tons of carbon. But this amount may be twice as much if one were to achieve an equal distribution of forests along their respective age groups. The greatest deposit ability is of young forests. Forests younger than 20 years of age produce 0.934 tons/hectare annually; those ranging in age from 20-40 years produce 1.611 tons/hectare. With increasing age, the deposit capability of a forest decreases. Reserves used to increase the amount of deposited carbon are, indeed, enormous. First and foremost, the reserves are an optimization of the age structure of forests. Thus young forests under 40 years of age and middle - age forests will cover 60% of the forest land mass (currently coniferous forests of this age - which dominate the forest reserves - comprise only 39% of the reserves). A second type of reserve exists, in which forest renewal and forest cultivation is focused primarily on
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