Snow forests of Asian Russia

Page - November 29, 2006
The Snow Forests of Asian Russia comprise areas of intact ancient forest ranging from the arctic zone in north-eastern Sakha, to the subtropical region along the Amur and Ussuri river basins to the south.

Siberian Tiger

Asian Russia makes up the eastern third of the Russian Federation and covers over 663 million hectares, more than two-thirds the size of the US. Forest makes up 45 percent of the territory.

Even at temperatures of minus 50° Celsius in the winter, boreal coniferous forests flourish in Russia. In this vast forest of over 5000 square kilometres, the landscape changes from sparse tundra covered with stunted willows and birch in the north to dense coniferous and deciduous forests in the south.

These diverse forests provide a home to many species of plants and animals, including the highly endangered Siberian (or Amur) tiger, Far Eastern leopard, the Himalayan bear, and the musk deer. The Amur-Sakhalin region shelters more types of plants and animals than any other temperate forest in the world, with many of these species existing nowhere else.

Like other forests, the Snow Forests of Asian Russia are also home to indigenous peoples including the Nanai of the Khabarovsk region.

Logging rampage clearing forests

Logging and other resource extraction such as mining pose a serious threat to Russia's Snow Forests. The minerals and reserves of timber in eastern Siberia is fuelling greed throughout the world. Since the Russian economy is highly dependent on foreign exchange, the country is engaged in a sell-out of nature on an indescribable scale.

Already some regions have been logged out, and in recent years, multinational logging corporations with a history of forest destruction have started to secure long-term logging agreements here. The Malaysian logging giant Rimbunan Hijau, has secured two 50 year leases to log forest along the Sea of Japan coast and is planning to export raw logs to markets in China, Japan, and South Korea.

Illegal logging and the consumption of specific timber species by Chinese and Japanese markets are now regarded as the primary threats to the rich temperate forests of the southern regions of Russia's Snow Forests.

This, coupled with an expected increase in demand for Russian timber from Northeast Asia, poses a serious threat to the survival of these stunning ancient forests.

Without decisive action, the intact natural landscapes of whole ecological regions and vegetation zones may disappear.

copyright 2002 Greenpeace/Global Forest Watch

Potentially intact ancient forest, >50,000 heactares

Other forests

Sources: Intact forest landscapes/forest cover, Greenpeace Russia and GFW 2001