Click here to return to our Home page. Staff Directory Search our site. Frequently Asked Questions Feedback Site Map Partners Contact us
Welcome to the USDA Forest Service INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS
About Us
What's New?
Technical Cooperation
Disaster Assistance Support Program
Around The Globe
Program Topics
International Seminars
Learning Zone
Cooperate With Us
North American Forest Commission

Managing Fire in Russia's Far East
by Wayne Bushnell

Can sustainable forestry practices in Russia help forestall the loss of the Siberian Tiger?
News Bits from Around the World.
Bulletin Board
Pertinent Links
Past Issues

When you think of the Russian Far East, you think of the taiga-an ocean of boreal forest. The taiga is home to fire on a scale so vast it defies the imagination. In 1976, for example, a complex of fires burned 2 million acres (800,000 ha). In 1998, another complex scorched almost 5 million acres (2 million ha). That's more than twice the number of acres burned during the entire 1998 fire season in the United States.

Fires on this scale have reduced and fragmented the native forest and greatly impeded regeneration efforts, particularly in Korean pine forests. Seeds from Korean pine are an important food source for wild boar, elk, and other prey of the Siberian tiger-an endangered species now down to 350 animals.

In 1994, the USDA Forest Service and Russia's Federal Forest Service-with funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development-joined forces to address the problem of catastrophic wildfires. The USDA Forest Service provided equipment and expertise for fire detection, prevention, suppression, and dispatching, as well as for land management planning and computer operation. The focus was on protecting habitat for the Siberian tiger and its prey.

The two countries also exchanged fire specialists. At least 30 Russian specialists have visited the United States, and an equal number of U.S. fire specialists have visited Russia. The Russians learned about the United States use of firelines to control fires, and the U.S. visitors learned about the Russian emphasis on using water, a resource far more abundant in the Russian Far East than in the American West.

Both sides have benefited. In April 2001, a Russian delegation toured the National
Interagency Fire Center
and local fire dispatch offices in Idaho and the Geographic
Area Coordination Center in Alaska. Based on what they learned, the Russians are studying the feasibility of incorporating the U.S. model of dispatch and coordination centers into their own fire management organization.

For its part, the United States has much to learn from the Russians on using satellite technology to detect fires and gather information. The National Aerial Fire Center in Pushkino (near Moscow) and the airbase in Krasnoyarsk are two locations with some of the latest technologies in satellite imagery. The United States is also studying parachute designs in Russia and other countries for ways to improve parachutes and deployment systems used by U.S. smokejumpers. It's a partnership with payoffs for all.

Wayne Bushnell is National Forest System Fire and International Forestry Program Manager with the USDA Forest Service, Alaska Region.

Back to top

Previous Page
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7
Next Page
  Back to the Newsletter Home Page  

Home | About Us | What's New? | Technical Cooperation | Policy | DASP | Around The Globe | Program Topics | Newsletter | International Seminars | Learning Zone |
Cooperate With Us
Staff Directory
| Search
| FAQ | Feedback | Site Map | Partners | Contact Us
Forest Service | USDA

Copyrightę 2000 USDA Forest Service International Programs
Legal Information and Disclaimer