Land Resources of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Land Resources of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

 

all the land within the boundaries of the USSR. The land resources are subject to the state’s right of exclusive ownership; they are the property of the nation. Because of the exceptional nature of the Soviet state’s property in land and the resulting uniformity of the legal status of the land as property, all the land in the USSR is a single state land fund. This makes possible the rational, planned use of land in the interests of society as a whole. The state allocates the land to users free of charge, establishing the intended function of each land lot and the regulations governing land use corresponding to this function.

The USSR is first in the world in total territory and agricultural land area. Of the total territory of 2,227,500,000 hectares (ha), agricultural land (as of Nov. 1, 1970) accounts for 606.8 million ha, including land used by agricultural enterprises and farms and agricultural land of the state land reserve and forestry enterprises (see Table 1).

Table 1. Distribution of the total land area of the USSR by Union republics as of Nov. 1,1970 (ha)
 Total areaAgricultural land (used by agricultural enterprises and farms)
USSR....................2,227,500,000545,800,000
RSFSR....................1,707,500,000222,000,000
Ukrainian SSR....................60,400,00042,400,000
Byelorussian SSR....................20,700,0009,800,000
Uzbek SSR....................45,000,00025,000,000
Kazakh SSR....................271,500,000183,500,000
Georgian SSR....................7,000,0003,000,000
Azerbaijan SSR....................8,700,0004,000,000
Lithuanian SSR....................6,500,0003,500,000
Moldavian SSR....................3,400,0002,700,000
Latvian SSR....................6,400,0002,700,000
Kirghiz SSR....................19,800,0009,700,000
Tadzhik SSR....................14,300,0004,100,000
Armenian SSR....................3,000,0001,300,000
Turkmen SSR....................48,800,00030,500,000
Estonian SSR....................4,500,0001,600,000

Of the 367 million ha of agricultural land in prerevolutionary Russia (within the boundaries of the USSR before Sept. 17, 1939), only 135 million ha (37 percent) was used by working peasant farms; more than 80 million ha (22 percent) belong to kulaks; and 152 million ha (41 percent) belonged to pomeshchiki (landlords), the tsar’s family, and monasteries. As a result of the Great October Socialist Revolution, the peasants received free of charge more than 150 million ha of land that formerly belonged topomeshchiki, the bourgeoisie, the tsar’s family, and monasteries and churches, as well as some of the land owned by the government. The working peasants who entered the kolkhozes later also received the land formerly owned by the kulaks—80 million ha (see “Sel’skoe khoziaistvo SSSR,” Statisticheskii sbornik, 1960, P-7).

The way in which the nature of land use took shape may be judged from the data in Table 2.

The character of land use is conditioned by historicaf and economic factors, as well as natural factors. Socioeconomic conditions play a decisive role in all cases. In the years of Soviet power the arable land area increased by more than 70 million ha. The area under orchards and vineyards increased by a factor of 5; the area of irrigated land, by a factor of 2.5; and the area of drained land, by a factor of 3.8. A great deal of work is under way in the areas of land reclamation, the prevention of soil erosion, and the irrigation of pastures.

The state land fund of the USSR is divided into the following categories, according to the main specific purposes of land use:

Table 2. Total land area of the USSR and distribution of agricultural land according to land users as of Nov. 1,1970 (hectares)
 Total areaAll agricultural lana (arable land, fallow land, orchards, vineyards, hayfields, and pastures, except reindeer pastures)Arable landIncluding hayfieldsPastures
1 Includin g the Sea of Azov and the White Sea, the territory of the USSR is 2,240,200,000 ha
Total kolkhoz land..................357,100,000209,300,000109,700,00015,500,00080,700,000
Land for communal use (including land allocated for long-term use in the state land reserve and forest enterprises)..................352,100,000204,500,000105,700,00015,300,00080,700,000
Personal holdings of kolkhoz farmers..................4,700,0004,500,0003,800,000200,000
Kolkhoz land for personal use of workers and employees..................330,000300,000250,00010,000
Land of sovkhozes and other state farms (including land for long-term use in the state land reserve and forestry enterprises)..................687,800,000333,100,000111,300,00024,300,000193,700,000
Land for personal use of workers and employees (except lots on kolkhoz land)..................3,600,0003,400,0002,500,000400,000
Total land used by agricultural enter- prises and farms..................1,048,500,000545,800,000223,500,00040,200,000274,400,000
State land reserve and forestry enterprises (except land in long- term use by kolkhozes and sovkhozes)..................1,119,500,00041,500,000400,0005,700,00035,100,000
Other land users..................59,500,00019,500,000500,0001,100,00017,500,000
Grand total (territory)...................2,227,500,000606,800,000224,400,00047,000,000327,000,000

(1) Land for agricultural use, which is allocated to kolkhozes, sovkhozes, and other land users for agricultural purposes. This is the most important part of the land resources of the USSR. Land occupied by kolkhozes is allocated to them for perpetual use. The regulations governing land use are defined by the legislation of the USSR and the union republics.

(2) Urban areas and urban-type settlements.

(3) Land used for industry, transportation, health resorts, preserves, and other nonagricultural purposes. This land is allocated to enterprises, organizations, and institutions for the implementation of special tasks entrusted to them. This type of land includes land belonging to enterprises of the manufacturing and mining industries, land used by transportation facilities (railroads, domestic waterways, sea and air routes, and pipelines), land for national-defense use, land used for communications lines and high-voltage electrical networks, and land used by health resorts and preserves.

The allocation of land for nonagricultural purposes is a matter of general procedure. However, the diversion of agricultural land to these purposes if permitted only in cases of great need; the diversion of irrigated land or of land under reclamation, arable land, and other valuable land is permitted only in exceptional cases and only by a decision of the Council of Ministers of the particular Union republic. Enterprises, organizations, and agencies to which agricultural land is allocated for construction and other nonagricultural purposes are required to indemnify the losses in agricultural production that resulted from the withdrawal of the land (in addition to compensation to land users for losses).

The area of the land allocated to enterprises is defined either according to established standards (for example, allocation of strips for various means of transportation) or according to the technical and planning specifications for the construction or reconstruction of a unit (for example, for the territory of an industrial enterprise). Parcels of land are allocated for nonagricultural purposes to the extent that they are actually needed for construction or for other such purposes.

Land that is allocated to enterprises and is not used for the intended purposes may be temporarily transferred to kolkhozes and sovkhozes for agricultural use. After the expiration of the period of temporary use, the land is transferred to its former users or put at the disposal of the corresponding governmental bodies.

Land for nonagricultural purposes is allocated in the minimum necessary amounts. As a result, zones of special treatment are often established on parcels adjacent to land used for special purposes. For example, building that may endanger air traffic may not be erected within a certain distance from airports without permission from the bodies of the Ministry of Civil Aviation of the USSR. Protected zones are established along communications and power-transmission lines in which certain types of activity that might lead to personal injury from the electric current or to disturbances in the normal operation of the lines are prohibited.

(4) State forest lands.

(5) State waters.

(6) State reserve land. Unlike all other land categories, state reserve land has no designated purpose and is not used by anyone permanently or on a long-term basis. It serves as a source from which the reserves of other land categories may be replenished.

The legal status of the land resources of the USSR and of various land categories is defined by the 1968 Basic Principles of Land Legislation of the USSR and the Union Republics.

REFERENCES

Osnovy Zemel’nogo zakonodatel’stva Soiuza SSR i soiuznykh respublik. Moscow, 1969.
Udachin, S. A. Zemel’nyi fond SSSR i ego ispol’zovanie. Moscow, 1960.
Zemel’noe pravo. Moscow, 1969. Pages 250–343 and 386–401.

S. A. UDACHIN and N. I. KRASNOV

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