The last large intact forests in Northwest Russia

Protection and sustainable use

image of The last large intact forests in Northwest Russia

The forests of Fennoscandia have been in human use for many purposes for centuries, and through the last decades industrialized and cultivated in a manner that can change their ecological function with respect to biodiversity at species and ecosystem levels. In Northwest Russia we can still find large, indigenous forests where human impact is low. They represent the last intact western taiga ecosystems of high value for biodiversity preservation in Russia and Fennoscandia as reservoirs and source habitats for future dispersal of taiga species. The Conference and Workshop in Steinkjer 2007 focused on these matters, but also the ecological importance of these forests for rural culture, socio-economic importance, industrial values and how protection and sustainable societies could go hand in hand. Many of the presentations given at the conference and workshop are here presented together with the Summary and Closing Statement worked out at the end of the sessions. The presentations cover many aspects from ecology, history and culture, conservation and management strategies, inventory tools for defining habitats of specific value to biodiversity, as well as implementation of environmental issues into the forestry laws and certification and educational tools for developing sustainable societies in a broad scale.



Bird communities in European taiga forest

Clear-felling was introduced in the Fennoscandian boreal coniferous forest in late 1950's and early 1960's, and has thereafter become the leading logging practice. Simultaneously, extensive construction of forest roads allowed the exploitation of new areas and the use of heavy trucks for transport. This increased exploitation resulted in a rising rate of fragmentation and degeneration of old-growth forest habitats, thus reducing the natural biodiversity in a substantial part of this biome (Esseen et al. 1992, Edenius & Elmberg 1996, Andrin 1997); e.g. many well-documented negative impacts for avian fauna have been reported (Sandstrvm 1991, Angelstam 1992, Andrin 1994, Edenius & Elmberg 1996, McCollin 1998, Chalfoun et al. 2002, Laiolo et al. 2004). In substantially fragmented landscapes some bird species may have requirements that are greater than the mean size of the remaining patches (Andrin 1997). Therefore the spatial habitat configurations (e.g. the graininess of the fragmented old-growth patches) of a forest landscape become most important for its suitability as a breeding area for these species. From Finland it is reported that some "taiga-species" only can maintain their "natural" population densities within continuous "virgin" forest landscapes of significant magnitude, e.g. in the order of 1,000 km2 (Virkkala 1991).


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