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Forest Resources

Source:  Molotov V.S. The State Management of the Baikal Region Nature Resources / V.S. Molotov, K.Sh. Shagzhiyev; ed. by V.P. Orlov, N.G. Rybalsky. – Moscow: NIA-Priroda Publishers, 1999. – 244 pp. – [Ch. 2.5. Forest Resources and Forest Usage]. – pp.77-87.

1. The state of the forests
2. Pests and diseases prevention
3. Reforestation
4. The state of forest usage

Forest resources are among the most important natural riches of Lake Baikal. Timberlands of the Baikal water protection zone occupy 72% of that territory. The total area of the forest fund on the territory of the water protection zone is 20.6 million hectares, including 17.1 million hectares covered with forests. The total store of timber is 2,291.9 million hectares.
The Baikal water protection zone with a special regimen of nature resources usage was determined within the borders of its watershed in accordance with the USSR Council of Ministers resolution of January 21, 1969 # 52 “On the Measures of Protection and Rational Usage of Lake Baikal Basin Natural Resources”.
The principal part of the forest stock is on the territory of the Republic of Buryatia (14.1 million hectares – 69%), in the Irkutsk region (1.4 million hectares – 7%) and in the Chita region (5.0 million hectares – 24%).
Under the authority of the Federal forestry service of Russia there are 18.2 million hectares of forests, or 88.5% of the Baikal region total forest area; 0.7 million hectares (3.5%) are under the authority of the Russia State ecology committee; 1.5 million hectares (7.5%) are agricultural companies; 0.2 million hectares (0.5%) are under the authority of other ministries and departments.
More than half of the water protection zone forests (11.5 million hectares, or 55.8%) are the first group forests.
In the Baikal basin the forest resources are considered first of all as the complex multi-purpose biospheric resource providing stabilization and optimization of the nature environment of Lake Baikal unique ecological system. Forests are  exploited in the region with due regard for that role.
The water protection forests provide the Baikal natural complexes preservation performing the functions of water protection, soil protection and water regulation, they also play an important role in Lake Baikal basin as the factor ensuring biological cleaning of waste waters, they are also a strong biological pollution absorber. The basin forests considerably influence prevention and weakening of erosion processes. Their role in soil protection and accumulation is displayed in the river  and lakes banks protection, steep slopes protection from erosion and landslides.
In the 1st group forests of Lake Baikal water protection zone 15 categories of protectness are distinguished which perform four main nature protection functions:
- the forests which perform mostly water protection functions occupy 55.1% of the 1st category forests total area;
- the forests performing mostly protection functions – 22%;
- the forests of special purpose (nuts-storing zones, national parks, nature reserves) – 19.3%;
- sanitary and recreation forests – 3.6%.
The mountain high moisture zone (dark coniferous forests, taiga open woodland and tundra forests) occupying only 25% of the territory has special water protection meaning. Preservation of important water protection and preservation functions is a necessary condition of the lake clear waters formation. Taking into consideration the water protection functions of the forests around the Baikal, they are referred to the 1st group of forests.
In accordance with the USSR Communist Party Central Committee and the USSR Council of Ministers resolution of April 13, 1987 # 434, to strengthen the forests protective function, a coastal protective strip was made around the lake within which strictly protective regimen of forestry is determined including  general cuttings. According to the resolution at the introduction of the state forest registration control,  of the state cadastre and in the materials of forestation these forests are described as especially valuable woodlands.
The total area of woodlands in the coastal protective zone is 4.4 million hectares (the Republic of Buryatia and the Irkutsk region), 3.7 million hectares out of them are under the authority of the Federal forestry service of Russia.
The forests within the water protection zone are totally researched. The latest forestation took place in the 80’s and in a number of forestries, because of the forestry organization and development projects being invalid, new forestation is being performed.
A new concept of forestry management has been worked out (TASIS Programme) according to which the programme of continuous forestation in 12 forestries of Buryatia ans 5 forestries of the Irkutsk region is being introduced into practice.


 On the territory of the Baikal water protection zone Siberian flora clearly prevails (the Siberian larch, the pine-tree, the Siberian cedar). The standing woods include the larch, the pine-tree, the cedar-tree, the birch-tree and the aspen.
By the age groups the forests are divided as follows: the young growth – 21.8%, medium age – 38.3%, mature and overmature – 39% including coniferous ones – 29.5%.
The analysis shows that the structure of the forests has turned to the worse. In the period between two registrations the areas of the coniferous decreased by 5.7%, the soft-leaved grew by 11.2%, i.e. undesirable exchange of the coniferous for the soft-leaved is going on.
The average age of the forests is 123, the soft-leaved ones – 43.
The territory covered with forests in the Baikal water protection zone occupies 59.5%. It  has not changed practically in the recent years. The state of the forests is affected by many negative factors: industrial wastes (primarily those by the cellulose and paper industry), pests and diseases and forest fires.


Favourable weather conditions in recent years have promoted the Siberian silkworm quantity growth in Buryatia. Besides the needles and leaves gnawing pests there are also sources of the June cockchafer development on the territory of 306 hectares in the Kabansk forestry and 277 hectares in the Baikalsk forestry. In the recent 20 years the reforestation of those wastelands has become practically impossible.
The most dangerous forest disease is the root sponge. The forests become more littered because of Gartig and Schweinitz polypores sources. To find out the pests and diseases sources, as well as other factors of unfavourable influence on the forests, the forest pests and diseases monitoring is being performed in Buryatia in 23 forestries with the total area of 40 thousand hectares.


In the recent years a number of measures have been taken in the Baikal water protection zone which promoted forest preservation and rational usage.
In the recent years 33.2 thousand hectares of forests were included into the category of the valuable ones, including those which were transferred from the forest cultures into the woodlands – 6.8 thousand hectares.
In the recent years transition to the main way of reforstation has been performed – promoting reforestation by preserving the young forest.


The Baikal water protection zone remains the principal zone of the timber cutting. The most valuable and productive forests are concentrated there and 80% of timber cutting are done there.
Since 1988 a new wood-cutting area has come in force on the water protection zone territory (a scientifically grounded yearly amount of cutting the mature and overmature forests aimed at wasteless forest usage and reforestation).
The recent years’ decreasing amounts of the cut down timber can be explained by the following reasons:
- forest cuttings in the Baikal zone are done according to special rules (the main cutting rules, the improvement cutting regulations) which determine stricter requirements on the wood-cutting areas than in other regions: their size, the wood to be cut selection and others;
- clear cuttings are banned on the slopes more than 15%, selective cuttings are limited to the slopes up to 20˚ steep;
- a list of especially protected forest parts is broadened, the main usage cuttings are banned there;
- in Lake Baikal zone stricter sanctions are determined for the forest usage rules violation;
- the industrial production recession in progress against the background of increasing motor- and railway expenses;
- low financial support of the wood cutters both on the regional and the federal levels.
Business structures of different organization and ownership types have been formed in the forest sector.
Lease relations in forestry were started in 1994.
Selective and sanitation cuttings as a forestry activity to improve the forests’ ecological state, their reproduction and productivity increase are an important ecological factor for the Baikal basin forests. In recent years such cuttings have increased which is a positive tendency. Scandinavian technology and working methods introduced for wood cutting have promoted this. 

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