Russia’s Ancient Forests: Keeping Carbon Underground


There is a weekly, Wednesday WashingtonPost supplement entitled: Russia Now – produced and published by Russia Beyond the Headlines, an international project of the leading Russian daily “Rossiyskaya Gazeta” ( Since 2007, Russia Beyond the Headlines has published supplements focusing on Russia in leading world newspapers. I often find a number of very interesting articles.

Russia’s Ancient Forests: Keeping Carbon Underground is about the Boreal Forests. Another term for these vast forests is TAIGA – a Russian word that recognizes the swampy nature of much of this forest in the summer. Scientists have been studying Russia’s ancient forests for many years. In the age of climate change, these forests are now more important than ever because of the vast amounts of carbon they contain.

A recent study found that half the world’s carbon is stocked on land in the permafrost region – nearly two-thirds of which can be found in Eurasia. The remaining third is in North America. The study was published in June in Global Biogeochemical Cycles. Researchers found that the region contains 1,672 billion metric tons of organic carbon, much of it several feet underground, that “would account for approximately 50 percent of the estimated global below-ground organic carbon.”

Another paper published in Nature in 2008 found that old forests, which make up perhaps half of boreal forests, “continue to accumulate carbon, contrary to the longstanding view that they are carbon-neutral.”

I have found two interesting links to give greater detail about these immense woodlands, their importance and the environmental dangers of penetrating these regions for their wealth.

The Taiga or Boreal Forests
The World Bank and Russian Oil

Today, in the Gulf of Mexico, we are witness to yet another environmental catastrophy in the making. And, again, it has to do with oil exploration. In the book, Untapped, The Scramble for Africa’s Oil by John Ghasvinian, we see firsthand the damages created to environments, communities and to societies.

“Nigeria instead became a case study in the sort of chaos and destruction that an oil boom can wreak on an otherwise promising nation. Across the continent, the word “Nigeria” has become shorthand for what everyone wants to avoid when they drill for oil in Africa -a synonym for “troubles”.

Today, there are troubles in the Gulf!

There will continue to be troubles in tropical rainforests as well as in the world’s boreal forests should exploration begin in earnest to mine the riches that surely reside below the permafrost.


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