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.



Forest as a phenomenon of spiritual culture

The description of the sacred groves of Kenozero Land is found in my article "Solovetsky Green Meridian" and SNS "svyashschennye roshschi" (sacred groves) of the National Park "Kenozersky" in the light of Delos Initiative" in this publication. The analogous of the sacred groves in Kenozero can also be found in all the taiga forests of West Siberia. Among the Khanty and Mansy peoples there are very strong traditions of sacred groves of coniferous trees, connected to shamanism. An example I would like to mention is the sacred grove Khalev-Oyka, which is a sanctuary of the Mansy people community of the village Aneevo in the West Siberia, located 5 km from the point where river Posol flows to the river Sosva. The sanctuary is described by Izmail Gemuev (1990), who visited the place in 1986. A narrow path follows the taiga forest for about 0.5 km from the village Aneevo to this sacred grove. There is a glade in the centre of this sacred grove. Gemuev describes a post on the glade, with the top of it covered by a birch bark "cap". There is a thin pole fastened to the post by several cloths. On a photo in his article, (p. 79), we can see another post with several clothes fastened to a spruce tree. I would like to mention the parallel with pelena on the Holy crosses of Kenozero Lake Area and cloths on the post and a spruce tree of the sacred grove Khalev-Oyka (Figure 1).


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