タイガの森フォーラム
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Тайга Форум
2009.07.20
Taiga

What is the “Taiga”?

The Cyrillic (the ethnic language used in the region) spelling of the Taiga is ТАЙГА.  There are many opinions as to the origin of the word, including the one that says that it used to mean a “quiet forest” in the language spoken by indigenous people of Siberia.  The name is now recognized as Russian, and natural forests consisting mainly of conifers in arctic and subarctic zones are called the Taiga.  In the Russian coastal areas, there is the Taiga where both conifers and broad leaves are found.  This type of forests is called Ussuri Taiga.

The link between the Taiga and Japan

Timber logged from the Taiga in Siberia and Far East Russia has been exported to Japan since the 19th century.  The major products include conifers such as larch, Ezo spruce, Japanese red pine, etc.  They are processed into home-building materials and are used for ordinary houses.  Hardwood such as oak and ash are processed into furniture materials which has higher unit price.

Apart from the link through the wood trade and consumption, the Taiga and Japan are connected through the ocean.  In recent studies, the possibility has been raised as to the Taiga and wetlands in the region are providing the source of a significant amount of iron in Okhotsk Sea, therefore contributing to ecosystems and fisheries resources in the North Pacific Ocean.  More studies are needed with regard to the function of the Taiga as a source of the rich oceanic environment in Okhotsk.

The threat faced by the Taiga in the Bikin River basin and actions taken by the Udege

In 1992, “Svetlaya”, a joint venture company between Russia and South Korea, made a logging plan that included the Taiga of the upper Bikin River.  The company intended to export timber to Japan and South Korea.  The logging began with the Taiga on the side of the Sea of Japan (or the East Sea), proceeding beyond the Mountain Range and nearly reaching the source of the Bikin River.

A group of Udege volunteers, who felt threatened by this logging activity, lobbied against the plan and demonstrated by sitting at the logging site.  There was a severe conflict between the Governor who supported the logging plan and the local assembly that supported Udege.

In the same year, the Governor and the local assembly brought the lawsuit to the Russian Supreme Court, which in turn ordered the reduction of the logging operation.  The Taiga in the Bikin River basin was therefore protected against the logging by this company.  However, there are new development plans proposed by logging companies every few years.  Every time a new proposal is made, Udege lobbies against it, by sending a sign-on letters to the President, Prime Minister, Parliament, Governor and local assembly.  They have worked with environmental NGOs to appeal the threat they are facing to protect the Taiga from logging operations.

Back to Basic Info on Taiga and Bikin River


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