All about russian forest
This site supported by Forest Club Logo
All about Russian forests | Russian NGOs Forest Club | Useful links | Site map | Site search
Russian version

Basic info about Russian forest and forestry


Russian forest legislation

If is everything OK with forests in Russia?

Russian old-growth forests - the world natural heritage

Sustainable forestry in Russia

Forest Bulletin

Other Forest Club periodicals

Forest Club Publications

Forest Club Hot spots



POBEDITELI ó Soldiers of the Great War

A History of Russian Forestry and its Leaders

Chapter 5

Commonality in Forest Management History and Future Policy Direction

Increasingly larger human populations and accompanying resource demands on a diminishing land base make it imperative that we learn from our past successes and mistakes and those of other nations to conserve our future forest options. In 1716, sixty years before the Declaration of Independence was signed in the United States, Peter I of Russia established the Department of Forest Rangers (masters) (Waldmiesters) to watch over the forests of Russia. We can learn much from the long history of forestry and related sciences in Russia and apply that knowledge to current issues that face the United States and other forested nations.

The history of forestry in Russia was fraught with continual ideological conflict between private and public management of the forest resources. There was a constant ebb and flow of emphasis between forest reserves and conservation as opposed to greater forest utilization and maximizing market value. From the 8th through the 16th centuries, "unlimited use of forests" was the norm, but, with the strengthening of property rights conservation of resources (timber, wildlife, and nontimber products) became more important. Starting with Peter I, competing shifts in forest policy became more divergent and occurred with greater frequency. As an example, a national Russian Decree of September 22,1782 gave private forest owners "complete freedom to use all forests to their greatest advantage" and subsequently "complaints on the wide spread destruction of shipbuilding, forests lead to fundamental reform of forest management" in 1798. The Russian 1802 Charter of Forests decreed that "commercial and state interests demand that the future abundance of forests be insured by the precise relationship between harvesting and reforestation" This charter reflects the pre-Revolutionary Russia which was characterized by multiple types of land ownership, and although there was "a broad foundation for private ownership, the country's forest policy focused more on the public interest and the future of the country" Public interest was served in the Imperial Order of 1855, which stated forest policy goals of: 1) preservation of forest from destruction, 2) maximizing profits, and 3) increasing reforestation when needed. Conservation of forest ecosystems was paramount in the subsequent Resolution On The Preservation Of Forests (1888) that established Conservation Forests to protect watershed values.

The 1917 revolution abolished private ownership and "established that all forests without exception become state property intended to meet the needs of the people on the basis of planned distribution of forestry products" but political and social pressures did not disappear. Russian forest management was reorganized 4 times in two centuries prior to the revolution in 1917, but reorganized 20 times and completely abolished three times since. Socioeconomic needs often overrode technical forestry advice: "The State, sometimes even ignoring common sense, continued to conduct internal and external policies that sacrificed the forest sector for its short-term interests."

A similar ebb and flow in forest management emphasis between conservation and utilization occurred within the United States. Public concern for wide spread timber har≠vest, flooding, and fire hazard precipitated The Creative Act of 1891 whereby the United States Congress authorized the President to establish and safeguard Forest Reserves (Shands 1993). But these forest reserves were soon opened to use by The Organic Administration Act of 1897. This Act allowed for the establishment of National Forests from lands in the public domain to improve and protect the forest within the boundaries, or for the purpose of securing favorable water flows and to furnish a continuous supply of timber for the use and necessities of citizens of the United States. The Inland Waterways Commission, created in 1907, demonstrated the need to conserve forests in stream headwaters, but concern for watershed values was soon compromised by public de≠mands for livestock grazing and significant reading and tim≠ber harvest required to support the war effort in the 1940's (Winters, 1950). At the end of the War, public emphasis shifted rapidly to conservation (Federal-State Cooperation for Soil Conservation Act 1944) and concerns for sustained timber yield (Sustained Yield Forest Management Act, 1944).i The Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960 redirected forest management to a broader use of forest resources: recreation, range, timber, watershed, wildlife and fish. Directions for broader use led to broader conservation legislation; the Na≠tional Environmental Policy Act of 1969 prescribed a policy of enjoyable harmony between man and his environment: to promote efforts, which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment, and biosphere. This Act was followed by more conservation legislation in the Endangered Species Act of 1973 that protected threatened and endangered species and their habitats. Eventually the complexity of resource man≠agement was recognized in The Forest and Rangeland Re≠newable Resources Planning Act of 1974 and the National Forest Management Act of 1976 which stated that the resource base and public uses change over time requiring com≠prehensive and reoccurring assessments of both resource sup≠ply and public expectations.

Russia and the United States have shared a common struggle in meeting rapidly changing public expectations for forest products and conditions while conserving long-term forest site potential and future forest management options. The great hazard in rapid shifts of human expectations for their nation's forests is found in the whiplash effects of diver≠gent programs on forest ecosystem integrity. How can long-term science based forest management exist in a sea of con≠flicting and rapidly changing political/social directions? The need to place forest management on a scientific rather than political basis has been a continuing struggle. As early as March 12, 1798 a Russian Decree attempted to establish sci≠ence as a controlling factor in the long-term management of forest resources. Russian scientists made significant contri≠butions to the science of forestry and soils and only a few have been mentioned in this text. Of particular importance are the botanical works ofAndrei Nikolayevich Beketov, the development of soil science by Vasiliy Vasiliyevich Dokuchayev, the development of an integrated forest man≠agement approach by Georgiy Fyodorovich Morozov, and the significant contributions to fire science by Ivan Stepanovich Melekhov. Significant works on forest mensuration have been provided by Fyodor Karlovich Arnold, Aleksandr Felicianovich Rudzky, and Egor Frantsevich Kankrin. The latter cautioned against the practice of excessive harvest for maximum investment gain rather than investing in the forest itself as "a bank that will never go bankrupt" for future gen≠erations. Other scientists discussed in the text have made sig≠nificant contributions to the fields of plant geography, geo-morphology, and landscape ecology. Just as Dokuchayev reached outside Russia to understand his newly created field of soil science and publish on the soil zones of the Northern Hemisphere, scientists outside of Russia need to understand Russia forestry and soils information to better understand and manage forest and soil resources of their countries. Foresters in Russia and the United States have dealt with the dangers of applying foreign forestry notions to local situations. How≠ever, without shared information, both nations face a costly situation of rediscovering forestry information already avail≠able elsewhere.

Forestry research and surveys have been initiated in Rus≠sia and the United States to support a viable forestry industry and to protect the forest resource. In 1752, papers from the Russian Academy of Sciences contain descriptions by M. B. Lomonosov and S. R Krasheninnikov on a curriculum for a forestry science course for Russian foresters. The St. Peters≠burg Forestry Academy was established in 1803, an Agricul≠ture and Forestry Academy opened in 1865 in Petrovsko-Ragunovski near Moscow, and in 1892 Dukuchayev reorga≠nized the Novo-Aleksandrov Institute in which he established the first soils science department. The 1892 Dokuchayev expedition provided the foundation for a system of experi≠mental forests in Russia, and in 1915 Mikhail Mikhailovich Orlov published on the Views on Organizing Forest Experi≠mentation in Russia. Because forest assessment is necessary for management, Russia initiated a major effort in forest sur≠vey that continues to be unprecedented in detail and extent. As an example, between 1841 and 1854 Teploukhov and his surveyors mapped 2.8 million acres at a scale that denoted differences of approximately 15 acre units. Currently mil≠lions of hectares of Russian forest lands have been mapped at the stand level, an accomplishment yet to be seen on a similar large scale in the United States.

Almost 100 years after the first forestry academy in Rus≠sia, the Biltmore Forest School was established in North Caro≠lina in 1898 and forestry programs were established at Cornell University in 1898, and at Yale in 1900. But, the United States moved rapidly and Regional Forestry Experiment Station'' were established in 1908, the Forest Products Lab in 1910, Forest and Rangeland Research became an official branch of the US Forest Service in 1915, and State Extension Forestel positions established in 1924.

Professional forestry societies have played a significant role in infusing science into forestry management in both na≠tions. In 1767, The Free Economic Society (founded in 1765) published Preservation and Reproduction of Forests. The first issue of Soil Science in 1899 contained materials from Dokkuchayev and was edited by his previous student P. V. Otoski. Victor Semyonovich Semyonov, the first chairman of the Russian Society of Foresters, published 68 articles in the Forestry Journal between 1835 and 1846. In 1900, The Society of American Foresters was established in the United States with the Forestry Quarterly published in 1902, the Pro≠ceedings of the Society of American Foresters published in 1905, and the Journal of Forestry in 1917 (Winters, 1950).

Ecological issues and subsequent development ofecologi cal concepts have occurred in both nations; however, events and concept development previously separated by decades and centuries are now converging in modern times. Russian directives to balance timber harvest with reforestation in 1802 were similarly echoed by the United States 160 years later with the passage of the 1964 Forest Management Practices Act. The United States Forest Service embraced the multiple use concept in managing our forests in the 1960-70's, but more than a century before (1843) the Russian government required that wildlife experts be hired as forest conductors to assist foresters in the management of the forest resource. In 1875, Vasiliy Vasiliyevich Dokuchayev wrote "It is essential to clearly understand the mutual connection between all the fac≠tors indicted above (abiotic, biotic, geological, and hydro-logical) in order to achieve positive results from interfering in their highly important and complex struggles." A century later (19XX) Aldo Leopold cautioned about tinkering with the environment before we understood its complexity. The relatively recent interest in prescribed fire to restore and pro≠tect forest ecosystems in the Western United States was simi≠larly called for in Russia by Ivan Tikhonovich Pososhov in his book on Scarcity and Wealth written in 1724.

Both Russia and the United States have recently entered a new era of ecosystem management. Russian foresters now follow a new Forestry Code (February 14, 1997) based on the rational and sustained use of forests. A similar ideological shift occurred in the United States with the development of new perspectives in forest management in the 1980's and eco≠system management concepts developed in the early 1980's. What will be the political and social pressures brought to bare and the realized outcome of forest policy in both countries? Faced with similar resource issues and problems it serves both nations to greater understand the problems and attempted so≠lutions of the other.

i USDA 1983. The principal laws relating to Forest Service Activities. Agriculture Handbook No. 453. U.S. Printing Office, Washington D.C. 591 pp.


Shands W. E. 1994. National Forests and the Human Legacy: Some History. In: Silviculture: From the cradle of forestry to ecosystem management. Proceedings of the National Silviculture Workshop. Nov. 1-4, 1993. Hindersonville, NC. USDA, Forest Service. Gen. Tech. Rept. SE-88. L.H. Foley Comp. Southeastern Forest Experiment Station, Asheville, NC. p. 1-11.
Winters, R. K., editor. 1950. Fifty Years of Forestry. Soceity of American Foresters, p. 1-29.

<< Preview page Table of Contents

Share |
Back to top of this page Back to Homepage

Mail us!