Expanding Forests but Declining Mature Coniferous Forests in Russia

Shvidenko, A. & Nilsson, S. (1996). Expanding Forests but Declining Mature Coniferous Forests in Russia. IIASA Working Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: WP-96-059

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Analyses of aggregated data of the dynamics of Russian forests during the period from 1966 to 1993 have identified a rather stable development of Forested Areas (FA) and growing stock (an increase of 8% and 5%, respectively). Unforested Areas (UFA) have decreased significantly; for example, the total amount of unforested burned areas declined from 68.4 to 31.9 million ha over the period. Average growing stock by age groups increased for all main forest-forming species (excluding mature and overmature coniferous stands). Development in the growing stock in European Russia has been positive, but Asian Russia has experienced a rather severe decline. Studies of the 1983-1993 period show somewhat different results. Official data show that the total growing stock for Russia underwent a serious decline over this period. An adjustment for systematic inventory errors still shows that there has been a substantial decrease in the growing stock in Asian Russia. The decline identified during this latter period cannot be explained by the harvest carried out, but is probably due to disturbances such as forest fires, pest, insects, and anthropogenic activities.

From analyses, it can be concluded that the quality of the forests has been seriously impoverished in Russia during the 1966-1993 period. This impoverishment is due to severe local overharvesting in regions with developed infrastructure and to so-called creaming--namely, the harvesting of the best stands of specific species over huge areas.

There are still vast areas of unexploited and unmanaged forests in Russia. In spite of serious shortcomings in Russian forest management, the stability of Russian boreal forests and their capacity for natural regeneration seem to be extremely high. Therefore, it may to be premature to speak of "the disappearing Russian forests."

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Working Paper)
Research Programs: Forestry (FOR)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 02:07
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:15
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/4967

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