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Environmental problems of Northern Eurasia

Deforestation and Degradation of Forests

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The boreal forests of Northern Eurasia are one of the world's largest biomes. Its Asiatic part remains mostly untouched. However, in the European territory and in the Urals original coniferous stands have been replaced by secondary small-leaved deciduous forests or replanted stands. Broad-leaved deciduous forests and woodlands of the forest-steppe biome have long been cleared or fragmented. The visibly unlimited extent of forests is deeply rooted in the national consciousness but it is this very image of unlimited resources that may prompt degradation of forests. With respect to forest management, there is no shortage of scientific and technical expertise in the FSU.

However, organizing a modern, efficient, and flexible system of management remains a challenge. Improving infrastructure in the European part of the FSU and the Urals, establishing infrastructure in the Asiatic part, changing from clear-felling to alternative low-impact harvesting methods, and developing and expanding services aimed at forest health monitoring and protection should become priority. These initiatives should be placed in the context of global climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies. Containing a large pool of biogenic carbon, the forests of Northern Eurasia are of global significance. It is necessary to emphasize both detailed investigations of the global role of forests and their response to climate change, and the local role of forests as providers and protectors of human beings and wildlife. This strategy requires a high investment. However, combating forest degradation today may become the best defence against natural hazards tomorrow.

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