Deforestation in the 

Russian Taiga

About the Russian Taiga
About Deforestation
Proposed Solutions
Policy Recommendation

While many of these companies are practicing legally under agreements and in accord with regulations, many ignore the necessity for sustainable production. In many cases there are two different companies that partake in the supply side of the raw material logging; one company clears the land in response to another’s demand. Some argue that re-growth will replace the area that has been cleared and over time the ecosystem will naturally rebuild itself. “Forest regenerated after clear-cut or fire is referred to as second-growth or regeneration until a long enough period has passed that the effects of the disturbance are no longer significant.”1 Depending on the forest, this may take anywhere from a century to several millennia. With increasing publicity of and awareness of the importance of original forest growth, this argument is getting old.  

Deforestation occurs in a number of ways, both natural and unnatural. People have always had an impact on forests by clearing land for agriculture and cattle raising, forest fires, mining, urbanization, acid rain and forest fire. Although naturally forest fires do occur, fire frequency is spurred by industrialization and carelessness. In the Russian taiga migratory farmers and urbanization is not the largest threat to trees. In the cold and nearly unbearable climates of Siberia and the Far East, clear cutting and the timber industry is the main problem. Russia has regulations regarding the timber industry and the export of wood, yet these restrictions are loose in comparison to other regions in the world including the United States, Canada, Europe and parts of South Asia. Illegal logging is a frequent occurrence throughout Russia in an effort for companies to meet the demands of global wood importers. Illegal logging can be classified in three different ways:

  • Pure criminal activities (logging without official permissions, timber theft, falsification of documents, financial crimes, usage of the violence against local peoples, outrageous law violation by authorities and corruption).
  • Mass public illegal activity in forest by poor peoples, looking for satisfaction of their basic needs – food and fuel (forest encroachment and forest land conversion for agriculture usage, poaching).
  • Lack of law enforcement.

According to the Forest Club of Russia "in 1999 Russia exported about 29 million m3 of raw timber, and in round wood Russia exports more than a half of timber logged both legally and with violations of the existing legislation. Considerable income from the forest export stimulates forest felling both legal and illegal. The majority of companies buying wood from Russia either don't take interest in or prefer not to think about the origin of timber they buy, because they think that it really matters only in Russia Abroad all timber, even stolen, becomes legally clean. That's why it doesn't seem possible to solve the problem of illegal forest felling operations until both buyers and sellers of forest products close the illegally logged timber from entering the market."2 Although these figures are somewhat outdated, enforcement in the last ten years has changed little, while demand for forest products around the world has continued to rise. 

Because demand for timber, paper and other wood products is not likely to cease, it is irrational to demand that all logging should come to a halt. Although wood is necessary for sustenance living for people in all regions of the world, it is over consumption from richer nations that is the demise of the world's forests. The ease at which forests are destroyed in order to create product for the global markets is a result of Russia's lack of control combined dangerously with consumer's willingness to exploit natural resources. Although the Forest Stewardship Council seeks to stop illegal logging and labels wood that has been harvested through sustainable methods, there are no regulations on paper manufacturers, furniture makers and other wood product companies that force the use of ethically derived wood product. 

1Margetts, Dee. "What is Old Growth Forest?" Old Growth Forests of Western Australia. Western Australia Forest Association. 20 Mar. 2006 <>.

2"Illegal Logging." Forest Club of Russia. 2004. Greenpeace Russia. 10 Apr. 2006 <>.

Contact Information 

Email: Jill Wittenberg