Steppe under threat
Belgorod Province – afforestation
Ilya E. Smelansky (Siberian Environmental Center, Novosibirsk)
The Green Capital, a province-level project aimed at increasing the area covered by forest in Belgorod Province, is discussed. The five-year project (2010-2014) comprises five components, one of which is the afforestation of chalk slopes and sites with high erosion potential. Belgorod Province is situated in the steppe zone and has one of the highest proportions of arable land in Russia. Remnant natural steppe ecosystems totaling 112,000 ha occur mostly on chalk and other slopes and are classified as reserved land. The Green Capital project aims to plant trees over an area of almost the same size. Considering the fact that the targets of the afforestation plan for both 2010 and 2011 have already been outstripped, means that full project implementation will actually result in the complete destruction of steppe in Belgorod Province. Some steppe communities on chalk slopes are protected within protected areas, but their total area is only 2,000 ha. The total budget of The Green Capital project for 2011 is 1,82 billion roubles, or 3,8% of all provincial budget expenditures for that year. At the same time, the full proposal for the project was not officially published and approved – only a 1.5-page project concept was approved by the provincial authorities in January 2010.
The article contains a map of the most extensive chalk slopes in the Province and a table giving the planned and actual figures of afforestation on chalk slopes and those areas with high erosion hazard.
© 2010-2015 Steppe Bulletin
Work bulletin on conservation of steppe ecosystems and sustainable use of steppes
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