Land Reclamation Through Forest Planting

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Land Reclamation Through Forest Planting


(1) A system of forestry measures for combating unfavorable natural conditions that are obstacles to high and stable harvests.

Land reclamation through forest planting is extremely important because droughts, hot dry winds, wind and water erosion of the soil, and other unfavorable natural conditions cause great damage to agriculture all over the world. In the USSR alone more than 150 million hectares (ha) of arable land, more than 200 million ha of quicksand areas and sandy soils, and more than 4.5 million ha of hollows, gorges, ravines, and river valleys need land reclamation through forest planting.

This type of land reclamation is based on the planting of protective forests, of which there are three types—field-protecting forest bands on flat watersheds and gentle slopes; soil-protecting forest bands and other plantings on steep slopes, along the shores of rivers, ponds, and other bodies of water, and along hollows, gorges, and ravines; and forest plantings on sand and sandy soils, mountain slopes, ridged watersheds, plateaus, dikes against snow and water, pastures, livestock farms and resting places for livestock, along roads, and in communities. Land reclamation through forest planting is used in combination with organizational, economic, agrotechnical, hydrotechni-cal, and other measures. For instance, in the fight against water erosion, it is used with antierosion processing of soil, seeding of grass, terracing, and the construction of embankments, troughs, spillways, and dikes; in the fight against wind erosion, it is used with soil-protecting crop turnovers and special agrotechnology.

In the USSR protective forests are planted by forestry organizations— leskhozes (forestries) and lespromkhozes (forestry enterprises)—and by kolkhozes and sovkhozes. When the forests are planted, the region’s climate, topography, hydrology, soil, flora, and other conditions are taken into consideration. Several production processes for growing protective plantings are mechanized.

The first protective forests were planted in Russia in the 18th century. In the 19th century, forests were planted along the watersheds of big rivers, work was done on sandy soils and ravines, earth was dug, and other operations were performed. In the late 19th century, bands of protective forests were planted in the southeastern part of European Russia. In the USSR land reclamation could be applied on a large scale after the collectivization of agriculture and the mechanization of kolkhozes and sovkhozes. The area of protective plantings rose from 130,000 ha in 1917 to about 500,000 ha in the 1940’s. Many forest plantings were destroyed during the Great Patriotic War.

After the war, especially during 1948–52, a new development of land reclamation began. Together with field and soil protective bands, the government is planting large forest bands on watersheds, along the shores of big water reservoirs, along roads, and around communities. In 1967 more than 2 million ha were planted with protective forests; of these, 89,000 ha were planted with state forest bands. In 1968–70 the government planned to finance the planting of more than 1 million ha of protective forests and the construction of a large number of antierosion hydrotechnical and antiflood installations; forest reclamation stations and new forest nurseries are being set up.

More than 20 countries-—including Bulgaria, Hungary, Rumania, and other socialist countries-—plant protective forests in treeless regions without forests. The capitalist countries with the greatest experience in protective forest planting are the USA (346,400 ha of protective forests in the Great Plains in 1964), Canada, Italy, France, Switzerland, Denmark, Ireland, and several African countries.

(2) The science that elaborates the theoretical bases, organizational forms, and technology of land reclamation through forestry. This science has the following subdivisions: planting of tracks and bands of field-protecting forests; soil erosion and means of combating it; work on solidifying sandy areas to make them suitable for cultivation; and forest plantings in mountain areas. The science of land reclamation is closely related to agronomy, botany, pedology, geology, and meteorology and is based on many branches of forestry science.

The first elements of the science of land reclamation were developed in Russia by the expedition of V. V. Dokuchaev, who organized the Kamennaia Steppe, Mariupol’, and Starobel’sk experimental stations in 1892. The theoretical aspects of land reclamation were greatly developed after 1917. Research was conducted on the effect of protective forest plantings on the microclimate, on snow precipitation, on water flow, on the water regime of the soil, and on the harvest of agricultural crops, as well as on the most effective ways of planting forest bands, the optimum width and location, agrotechnology, and other questions. The scholars G. N. Vysotskii, N. I. Sus, A. S. Kozmenko, M. A. Orlov, and many others have made great contributions to the science of land reclamation. Scientific work on land reclamation through forestry planting is conducted by the All-Union Scientific Research Institute on Land Reclamation, which coordinates research on protective forest plantings, many other research institutes, higher educational institutions, and experimental stations and bases. The Society for the Protection of Nature, the Scientific and Technological Society of the Forestry Industry and of Forestry, and many other organizations greatly assist in the development of land reclamation. Problems of land reclamation are treated in the magazines Lesnoe khoziaistvo (Forestry), Zemledelie (Farming), Vestnik sel’skokhoziaistvennoi nauki (Bulletin of Agricultural Science), and others.


Agrolesomelioratsiia, 3rd ed. Edited by A. V. Al’benskii and P. D. Nikitin. Moscow, 1956.
Vysotskii, G. N. Izbrannye trudy. Moscow, 1960.
Kozmenko, A. S. Bor’ba s eroziei pochvy na sel’skokhoziaiste-vennykh ugod’iakh. Moscow, 1963.
Agrolesomelioratsiia, 3rd ed. Edited by N. I. Sus. Moscow, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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