Intact forest landscapes in Russia: current condition and losses over the last 13 years

Intact forest landscapes in Russia: current condition and losses over the last 13 years / Poster, A1. Moscow, World Wildlife Fund (WWF Russia), 2016 

Russia is one of the few countries in the world which still has large swathes of land consisting of wild nature. In Russia, as with many other countries, most of these areas are located within the forest zone. Intact Forest Landscapes (IFLs) are unbroken natural landscapes in a current extant forest zone which have been minimally influenced by economic activity.

IFLs are important in the preservation of the natural level of biodiversity and ecological processes at a landscape level and help to ensure hydrological regime stability and protection against floods, mudslides, avalanches and soil erosion. For centuries, communities living in and around forests have been relying on IFLs for their subsistence. The shrinking of areas of IFLs negatively affects the overall ecological stability of the wider landscape.

From the results of this research, it was determined that the area of IFLs lost in Russia between 2000 and 2013 was about 7.5% (21 million hectares) of the total. The average area of IFLs lost is 1.6 million hectares per year, or 0.6% of the total original area. If the rate of loss of IFLs remains the same, IFLs will completely disappear from Russia within 166 years. However, the most rapid destruction of IFLs is taking place in those forest areas adjacent to forests which are logged commercially and which are the most productive in terms of timber resources. Total loss of ‘timber rich’ IFLs, therefore, is expected to take place much quicker, quite possibly within the next 48 years.

The research goal was not only to achieve understanding of the current condition of IFLs but also to measure their loss between 2000 and 2013 and to analyse the various factors contributing to their destruction. The analysis of satellite images demonstrated that there are three key factors contributing to the reduction in the area of IFLs, including loss resulting from fragmentation. These are: logging and building of roads for timber transportation; forest fires; mining and prospecting, development of infrastructure and transportation of minerals, oil and gas.

 

Released at April 2015

Russian version is available

Electronic version of publication


 

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