Forestry and timber industry in Russia in XXth century
Russia encompasses one fifth (22 %) of all forests of the world. Within forest area covers 2/3 of Russia’s territory, of which 45 % is covered by forests. By its resource potential, the country could even hold a monopoly in the world forest industry. The timber industry could and must have been one of the priorities in the state's economy. However, timber industry did not become a leading one, and is currently provides an example of hopeless weakness, exemplified by the average level of per capita consumption of main timber industry products, placing the country among the most underdeveloped ones in this field.
According to the last census (January 1, 1998), the total forest area was 1178,6 mln. hectares, or 69 % of the country's territory. Within these lands, the forest cover equals 774,3 mln. hectares, of which 718,7 mln. hectares is listed under administration of state forest management (Natural Resources Ministry of Russian Federation), 39,9 hectares belongs to Ministry of Agriculture. The remaining forest areas belong to the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Education and certain authorities of local administrations. Of total forest areas, 21,8 % is situated in the European part, of which 11,3 % is situated in its northern, most dense in woods, part. Thus, 9/10 of all forest areas of the country is situated in densely wooded areas of the European North-West, Siberia and Far East with low and decreasing in eastern direction population density and transport infrastructure. 68,5 % of population inhabits regions of Ural, Central and Southern parts of European part of Russia, where 1/10 of the country's forest areas is situated. Just these regions consume not less than 2/3 timber industry products.
The main forest areas of the country are more northerly situated than that in the US and developed forests of Canada. Russian forest regions are situated in more continental and harsh natural habitat and thus, are characterized by far less productivity than the woods in the US or Canada. More than half of woods in Siberia and Far East are growing on lands with permafrost and are comprised of trees of low productivity, not of great commercial value for timber industry.
The area of relatively productive forests (coniferous – pine, cedar, spruce, fir, hard wood species – oak, beech, ash and soft wood species) is occupying 142,0 mln hectares or only 1/5 (19,7 %) of total forest area, that is governed by the Ministry of Natural Resources. Half of this area (51%) is situated in the European part. In Siberia and Far East, the important part belongs to Siberian and Daurian larch woods, that occupy here 45,5 % of total forest areas. Most of trees grow on soil with permafrost and is of low productivity. By the area of relatively productive woods, occupying from 1/5 to 1/3 (with larch) of the total forest areas, Russia already is not the country with largest forest areas.
At least 30 % of all forests were destroyed in the Central-Western, Southern and near Ural regions during 1867–1914. The forest areas of the Central Black-Soil region comprised about 30 % in the beginning of XVII century, decreasing down to 22 % by 1725, 12,4 % by 1868, 7,5% by 1914 and 6,5 % by 1927, then increasing again to 7,3 % by 1950 and to 8,9 % by 1993. Deforestation became the main cause for dramatic impoverishment of Russian Black-Soil areas, an increase in number of ravines and more often occurrences of draughts and hot winds.
The Revolution, Civil War, lack of fuel and recovery of the destroyed industries put off transfer of the main timber felling to heavy forest regions till 1930-s, when the industrialization and collectivization policies were initiated. In practice, the full-scale fulfillment of this task has not started till 1950-s, although it started before the Great Patriotic War (1941–1945).
Starting 1929, a drastic changes were observed in the timber industry, caused by the policy toward fast industrialization of the country. The need for abrupt increase in timber industry production, mainly low-quality timber, first of all for construction purposes and timber export, required not just relocation of forest industry from devastated areas to more heavily wooded regions, but in fact its complete development. This new development was carried out based on principally new methods, full-scale consequences of which are reflected in current state of modern forests. The amount of industrial timber production has increased in 2,6 times during 1929–1940.
The shortage of transportation routes forced to dispose the timber processing factories in one place along the existing railroads and drift rivers. The short functioning time of such enterprises (20–40 years at turnover of coniferous trees lumbering as 80-120 years) made them a temporary business. With such practice, the principle of permanent forestry was violated. Due to lack of market for low quantities and low quality
1, 2, 3. >
Analytical book 2008
Analytical book 2004
Analytical book 2003
Analytical book 2002
Analytical book 2001
Analytical book 2000
Analytical book 1999
Analytical book 1998