The Destruction of Woodland in the Steppe Region, 1760-1914’

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Abstract

This article analyzes the destruction of the small areas of woodland in the steppe region of the Russian Empire between the 1760s and 1914. The main concern is of the article is not to calculate the decline in the forested area, but to trace evolving perspectives on the causes and consequences of deforestation over the period. This is carried out by analyzing a range of contemporary primary sources, including the account of the Academy of Sciences expeditions of 1768-74, statisticians and officials, and the growing cohort of Russian scientists, culminating in the famous speech by Dr Astrov in Chekhov’s ‘Uncle Vanya’. On the basis of observation, as well as reading the works of foreign specialists such as Humboldt, Russians came to suspect that the loss of woodland in the steppe region had wider environmental consequences, including exacerbating soil erosion and climate change. The loss of woodland also had implications for Russian national identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-65
Number of pages15
JournalIstoriko-biologicheskie issledovaniya/Studies in the History of Biology
Volume2
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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Keywords

  • DEFORESTATION, RUSSIA, STEPPES, FOREST, ENVIRONMENT, ENVIRONMENTALISM, FIRE, SOIL EROSION, CLIMATE CHANGE, NATIONAL IDENTITY

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