Russia Forestry and Breeding
Forests. – The USSR ranks first in the world for the breadth of its forests covering just over 2 / 5 of its European industry, and less than 2 / 5 of that of Asia. Overall, it can be estimated at around 7 million ha. the forest area of the USSR (27% of the world’s forest area); of this, however, just 1.7 million ha. they are found in Europe; moreover, while the northern regions here are well endowed with trees, the Ukraine is rather poor and the broad selvedge of low lands surrounding the Black Sea and the Caspian is entirely lacking. The economic importance of this immense nature reserve – for more than 1 / 3 not yet exploited – it is enhanced by the great variety of essences that constitute it; conifers (especially pine and fir), which represent the most conspicuous part (over 65% of the total) and cover the northern and north-eastern sections of the country, are joined, in the center and in the west, by more species of broad-leaved trees (birch, alder, poplar, ash, oak, oak, beech), while also in the south, just beyond the limits of the European region, there are walnut, boxwood and sam š it(boxwood) from the Caucasian area. The poor viability of wooded areas (of which about 40% lack good communications), which has prevented or delayed their exploitation over large areas, fortunately compensates for the ease of transport that rivers allow in every season; the enormous consumption of wood in Russia is evident when we consider that 90% of this goes into the construction of houses and 95% into their heating. However, it can be calculated that the current production, which is around 175-200 million cubic meters. annually, represents just 1 / 4 of the production useful as possible. Of that, moreover, approximately 2 / 3 are constituted by firewood, and just 1 /5 from work lumber.
That forestry still occupies a place in the USSR is absolutely unequal to the extent of reserves, is also demonstrated by the small size of the export of timber, in which the pre-war level was reached only in 1929-1930, as appears from the table following:
In the last five years, this trade has represented, in value, less than 15 % of total Russian exports (150-170 million rubles); however, it should be added that about half of the quantity is made up of processed timbers, which absorb about 70% of the total value. England, Germany and Holland are the largest customers of the USSR timber; the former alone absorbs almost half of Russian exports and more than half of processed products.
Breeding. – The following table clearly highlights the contraction that Russia’s livestock herd has undergone in the last quarter of a century, and the more and more conspicuous part that the Asian sector has taken on in the European sector.
While taking into account the perturbed post-war conditions and above all the consequences of the collectivization of farms which led to a severe blow to breeding, as well as for the extraordinary increase in mechanical means, also for the intense culling of animals that led to socialization of land ownership, it is undeniable that that contraction was accentuated by the poor conditions in which farming was practiced (lack of hygienic precautions, epidemics, lack of nutrition, etc.), due to the strong post-war monetary devaluation, due to the diminished or ceased export, etc. However, in relation to its population, the USSR has more head of cattle than the remaining portions of Europe and Asia, except for pigs.
If we take into account the wide possibilities of the country, it is evident that breeding still has a rather modest importance there; and it would appear more evident if precise analytical elements were possessed on the unequal distribution of the zootechnical herd in the various regions of the USSR.
Despite the very strong reduction suffered in comparison with the pre-war, equines which is available at the USSR still represent about 1 / 3of the world quantity, thus placing Russia in first place, in this respect, among the states of the earth. The extensive meadows of the S. and SE. (Don, lower Volga) are very suitable for horse breeding; The podolica and northern breeds are also excellent in terms of quality and, like that of the steppe, are suitable for different uses. The recent development of vehicles has undoubtedly reduced the use of the horse as a towing animal, without however being able to replace it, given the deficiency or poor maintenance of most of the roads. On the other hand, the reindeer in the extreme north is transported and towed, and in the arid areas near the Caspian the camel, both animals characteristic, at least as a rule, of nomadic populations; donkeys and mules, limited to the southern regions,
For the number of cattle, the USSR occupies one of the first places in the world, but both its breeding and the organization of the industries connected to it still need a lot of care. The density of cattle is highest in the districts of the Don and the middle Volga, and lowest in the arid territories of the SE. and on the central plateau, where pastures are lacking; moreover, while N. is aimed above all at the production of milk, in southern Russia and in the first place in Ukraine, animals for slaughter are bred.
As for industrial products, the immediately pre-war period had seen a promising development of that of milk first, of skins and then of tanning, in Western Siberia, from which some products underwent further manipulation in European Russia. However, Siberian butter was prepared, under the Tsarist regime, by small dairies with little advanced equipment; hence the Soviet government’s efforts to reorganize its industry on a technical basis, which has partly moved the production centers to the European sector and especially to the Baltic, central, Ukraine and the middle Volga regions. However, while milk production has risen in the last five years to 270-300 million quintals, the export of butter has remained at a rather modest level (30 thousand tons in 1932), corresponding in value to approximately 3% of total exports. Much smaller, and equally modest, is the trade in meat and skins, almost all of which is processed in central Russia and Ukraine.
The numerical fluctuations and the general decrease for sheep and goats, which find the best development conditions in the semi-arid zone close to Pontus and Caspian, appear even more serious than for large livestock. After British India, the USSR is the state that collects the largest quantity, but now about half of this belongs to the territories of Central Asia, the Caucasus and southern Siberia. In the European sector the most important centers of wool trade remain Char′kov, Voronež and Saratov; production, which had been around 1.5 million quintals between 1925 and 1930, decreased to less than half after this date (0.6 million tons in 1932).
With the loss of the Polish and Lithuanian provinces, Russia has seen a considerable reduction in the number of pigs, raised mainly in the western regions, which correspond to the dominion of the oak. With all this, the USSR remains in fourth place in the world, after Germany, having partially compensated for that loss with the flourishing development that livestock itself has taken on especially in Ukraine.
Something similar happened to poultry animals, which were largely imported into German markets from western Russia in the pre-war period (especially geese). Poultry and eggs constitute a significant economic resource for some areas of central Russia, but the establishment of special establishments equipped in harmony with the dictates of modern technology is still too recent. However, with the end of the war and revolutionary interlude, the USSR quickly regained its neighboring markets, absorbing by itself, in the last decade, about 40% of the (slaughtered) poultry imported into Germany. On the other hand, the increase in the production of eggs has not been as continuous, the export of which has undergone considerable changes.
The breeding of silkworms (Ukraine) has little importance in the European sector; higher instead that of bees, which is practiced, as well as in Ukraine and in the lower Volga, where it is most intense, in the whole wooded region of central Russia.