Forest Resources

forest resources

[¦fär·əst ri′sȯrs·əs]
(forestry)
Forest land and the trees on it.

Forest Resources

 

one of the most important types of natural resources, they include a country’s existing forest reserves and nontimber resources (such as feed and game resources, the fruits and berries of wild plants, mushrooms, and medicinal plants).

Forests cover about 30 percent of the earth’s land (1971); data on their area and timber reserves are given in Table 1.

Table 2. Forest resources of some foreign countries (1963 inventory)
 Total area (million ha)Forest area (million ha)Forested area (million ha)Land under forest (percent)Timber reserves (billion cu m)
     TotalConifers
United States ......919.2307.1292.73220.3113.89
Canada ..........922.1443.1420.34623.8819.37
Brazil ...........846.8352.1335.14066.300.30
Finland ..........30.521.721.2691.411.14
Sweden..........41.123.421.9532.091.78
Norway..........30.99.08.3270.430.36
France ..........55.111.611.0200.980.45
Federal Republic of Germany........24.37.26.9290.990.66
Table 3. Forest resources of socialist countries (1963–65)
 Area (million ha)Forest area (million ha)Including forested area (million ha)Land under forest (percent)Forested area per head (ha)
 TotalExcluding bodies of water    
Entire world . .13,52813,0334,131.53,700.0291.2
USSR........2,2402,144915.5746.8333.3
Other socialist countries:      
In Europe.....12812436.435.0280.29
In Asia ......1,1671,167139.3139.3120.18
In America (Cuba)11113.02.5220.4
Total for socialist countries . . .3,5463,4661,094.2923.6270.8
Total for socialist countries as a percentage of the world’s resources ....26.226.426.524.367.0

The USSR has more than one-fifth of the world’s forest resources, including 53.3 percent of the coniferous timber reserves on earth. Among foreign countries, the United States, Canada, and Brazil have quite large forest resources of commercial value (see Table 2).

The development of capitalism has accelerated the process of forest consumption in most countries of the world. For example, forests in the USA (excluding Alaska), which during the period in which the country was settled by Europeans covered 384 million hectares (ha), were reduced to 262 million ha by the middle of the 20th century; moreover, there are no more than 200 million ha of commercial-grade timber. In some developing countries the felling of valuable species of trees was so unrestrained during the colonial period that among the low-grade scrub forests only a few large trees per ha remain. The danger that the lumber shortage may intensify is pointed out in the documents of the seventh world forestry congress (1972). As a result of this warning, many countries are paying greater attention to the renewal and cultivation of forests, to the creation of various plantations of fast-growing species of trees, and to the problems of forest conservation. A new, economical attitude toward forests is especially characteristic of the socialist countries, which, except for the USSR and the People’s Republic of China, have comparatively small forest reserves. According to international and national forest statistics, the forested area comprises 3,183,000 ha in Bulgaria, 4,445,000 ha in Czechoslovakia, 2,724,000 ha in the German Democratic Republic, 1,421,000 ha in Hungary, 8,314,000 ha in Poland, 6,204,000 ha in Rumania, 8,539,000 ha in Yugoslavia, 2,530,000 ha in Cuba, 96,380,000 ha in the People’s Republic of China, 25 million ha in the Mongolian People’s Republic, 8,850,000 ha in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and 8,970,00 ha in the Korean People’s Democratic Republic. In these countries the forested (forest-covered) area differs little from the forest area.

Consolidated forestry data for socialist countries (1963–65) are presented in Table 3.

All forests of the USSR form the State Forest Lands. In addition, the data of special surveys and estimates are used for taking stock of and describing nontimber forest resources and assessing various useful properties of the forests. According to inventory data as of Jan. 1, 1966, the total land area of the State Forest Lands of the USSR was 1,234.5 million ha, the forest area was 915.8 million ha, and the forested (forest-covered) area was 746.8 million ha.

One of the most important facts considered in solving problems of the use and regeneration of the forest resources of the USSR is the extremely uneven territorial distribution of forests. More than 90 percent of the forests grow in Siberia, the Far East, and the northern part of the European USSR. There are areas where more than 65 percent of the land is forested (such as Irkutsk Oblast and the Komi ASSR) and areas where forests occupy only 0.5 percent of the land or which are even totally unforested. The associated disproportions are revealed especially clearly in a comparison of the three large parts of the country: the European part (including the Caucasus and the Urals), Siberia and the Far East, and the four Middle Asian republics and Kazakhstan, which have extremely small forested areas (see Table 4).

Some information on the forest resources of Union republics is presented in Table 5.

Since 1943 the forests of the USSR have been divided into three groups according to their leading natural and economic significance.

The species composition of forests deserves particular attention from the standpoint of the commercial use of forests. Three groups of tree species are commonly differentiated in the forests of the USSR: the coniferous, soft-leaved, and hard-leaved species. There are, however, accurate data for these groups only for forests under the jurisdiction of forestry agencies (see Table 6).

In the timber industry and in construction preference is given in most cases to coniferous and hard-leaved species, insofar as they produce wood of higher quality, while insufficient use is

Table 4. Distribution of forests in the USSR
 Total area (million ha)Population (million)Forested area (million ha)Relative share (percent)
    Relative to populationRelative to forests
European-Urals area including the Caucasus) .563.9177.1178.376.424.0
Siberia and the Far East . .1,276.624.9551.710.773.7
Middle Asian republics and Kazakhstan......399.529.916.812.92.3
Total...........2,240.0231.9746.8100100
Table 5. Forest resources of the USSR by Union republics (as of Jan. 1, 1966)
Union republicsTotal area (million ha)Population (million)Forested areaLand under forest (percent)
   total (million ha)per head (ha)
1Included are bodies of water that are not included in the areas of the republics
USSR ........2,240.01231.9746.83.2233.4
RSFSR ..........1,707.5126.5705.95.5741.4
Ukrainian SSR......60.145.57.90.1713.2
Byelorussian SSR . . . .20.88.66.70.7832.5
Uzbek SSR........45.010.61.10.102.7
Kazakh SSR.......271.512.18.60.713.2
Georgian SSR......7.04.52.60.5737.3
Azerbaijan SSR.....8.74.70.90.1910.8
Lithuanian SSR .....6.53.01.60.5425.1
Moldavian SSR .....3.43.40.20.067.3
Latvian SSR .......6.42.32.41.0638.0
Kirghiz SSR .......19.92.70.60.233.3
Tadzhik SSR.......14.32.60.30.122.4
Armenian SSR......3.02.20.30.149.7
Turkmen SSR ......48.81.96.20.3412.7
Estonian SSR ......4.51.31.51.1733.0

made of the resources of many soft-leaved species (such as birch, aspen, and alder). Only some of the high-quality birch stands are used to produce plywood, furniture, and various articles. The other forests formed by birch and other soft-leaved species are still insufficiently felled even in the taiga zone of the European part of the country. (More than 20–30 million cu m of annual growth remain unfelled.) Larch forests, which account for about 38 percent of the country’s entire forested area, comprise a tremendous reserve in Siberia and the Far East. However, larch is insufficiently used, since the overwhelming majority of larch forests are in nearly or totally virgin regions of this zone and the technology of using timber, for example, in pulp, cardboard, and paper production, is poorly developed.

The standard of the annual removal of trees from forest—the annual cut, which is approved by the country’s central forestry and planning agencies—is used for planned regulation of forest utilization in all forests of the USSR.

Of the nontimber resources of the forest lands of the USSR that are the object of secondary uses, feed resources, represented by vast hayfields and pastures, are of the greatest importance. According to inventory data for 1963, there are 5.8 million ha of hayfields and about 9 million ha of pastures in state forests alone. The yield of forest hayfields is vastly inferior to the yield of cultivated meadows and amounts to 5–10 centners of dry hay per ha. But hay from forest land is better in feed qualities than are the products of sedge and marsh meadows and is not inferior

Table 6. Distribution of forested area and timber reserves in national forests of the USSR for predominant species (according to forestry inventory data as of Jan. 1, 1966)
 Area (million ha)Timber reserves (billion cu m)
Species of treesForested areaMature and overmature treesGeneralMature and overmature trees
 TotalPercentTotalPercent
Coniferous ....489.6574.1326.7462.0183.045.91
Pine.......108.0216.357.7514.2919.29.26
Spruce .....80.6412.264.8612.2216.310.11
Larch ......251.5238.2169.5426.6635.720.12
Cedar......37.305.626.796.658.94.87
Others .....12.171.87.802.192.91.55
Hard-leaved . . .24.153.79.612.112.81.09
Standard oak4.920.71.130.500.70.16
Scrub oak . . .4.460.70.940.370.50.11
Beech ......2.520.41.030.500.70.26
Hornbeam . . .0.840.10.250.090.10.03
Ash .......0.760.10.430.100.10.07
Maple......0.460.10.290.040.03
Elms ......0.470.10.210.050.10.03
Others .....9.721.55.330.460.60.40
Soft-leaved ....111.8116.945.539.8913.25.83
Birch ......87.8913.335.437.099.54.07
Aspen ......17.542.68.002.182.91.47
Linden......2.390.40.880.280.30.15
Others .....3.990.61.220.340.50.14
Other species of trees ......34.865.324.330.831.00.62
Total .....660.47100.0406.2174.84100.053.45

to the products of sown meadows. The leaf mass, needles, and even wood, which are reprocessed into a pulp that is rich in vitamins, protein, and sugar and into pine meal, are used to supplement the feed resources of the USSR.

The food resources of forests, such as the seeds of the Siberian cedar, walnuts, filberts, pistachios, almonds, apples, pears, cherry plums, chestnuts, rowans, bird cherries, currants, raspberries, mushrooms, and medicinal and industrial raw material are also highly valuable. The forest is a favorable environment for the development of beekeeping and is the habitat and source of food for most species of game birds and animals. According to current data, hunting for fur-bearing animals is distributed throughout the USSR in the manner described in Table 7.

Table 7. Distribution of hunting for fur-bearing animals
In the taiga zone of the USSR (percent)
Sable...................................100
Siberian weasel.............................90
Squirrel .................................80
Blue hare ................................65
Ermine..................................50
Muskrat .................................40
Fox....................................15
In mixed forests of the European part of the USSR (percent)
European polecat ...........................70
Mink ...................................30
Mole ...................................40
Pine marten...............................15
Squirrel .................................15
Ermine..................................5

An important task of forestry and the hunting industry is to regulate properly the number of game animals in the forest per unit area.

Secondary use of the forest should be carried out on the basis of a proper combination of the principles of multipurpose forestry with the requirements of rational specialization of certain sectors of forestry. It is especially important to take account of the physicogeographic, ecological, and sociocultural factors of forests in addition to their economic capabilities.

REFERENCES

Vasil’ev, P. V. Ekonomika ispol’zovaniia i vosproizvodstva lesnykh resursov. Moscow, 1963.
Lesa SSSR, vol. 1. Moscow, 1966.
Lesnoe khoziaistvo SSSR za 50 let. Moscow, 1967.
Vasil’ev, P. V. Lesnye resursy SSSR segodnia i zavtra. Moscow, 1969.
Lesnoe khoziaistvo v sisteme planiruemoi ekonomiki. Edited by P. V. Vasil’ev and T. Molenda. Warsaw, 1972.
Lesnye resursy i promyshlennoe ispol’zovanie drevesiny za rubezhom. Leningrad, 1972.

P. V. VASIL’EV

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