Steppe under threat
Results and prospects of planting forest in steppe areas
Mikhail Popkov (Forest Management Research and Information Center, Kiev)
The planting of forests in the steppe zone of Ukraine is discussed. The Ukrainian State Forestry Committee believes that the proportion of forest-covered area in Ukrainian steppe 300 years ago was 20%, that official norms of forest-covered areas in steppe are scientifically based and that forest restoration in steppe conducted by forest management units is successful. A number of facts and figures refuting the official position of the Ukrainian authorities are provided in this article. Even official data on forest management in two steppe provinces (Lugansk and Kherson) clearly indicate that over 90% of planted trees die within four years. A simple balance analysis shows that the efficiency of forest restoration on forestry land in steppe provinces and the Crimea over the last five years is close to zero.
Instead of a large-scale campaign to plant new forest in steppe, it is strongly recommended, among other things, to bring order to the existing plantations, work out effective planting technologies and develop up-to-date reporting procedures on forest restoration and planting.
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