Karelian Isthmus' territory has a number of unique peculiarities and many-faceted significance for St-Petersburg, North-West Region and the whole Russian Federation. Unique Karelian Isthmus nature is distinguished by especial flora and fauna, interesting geological structure.Watershed of the grand basins – Ladoga Lake and Gulf of Finland – belongs Karelian Isthmus. In prospect, forest fund and water ecosystems are considered to be most valuable and important resources. The following fact highlights the importance of Karelian Isthmus nature: with its square equal to 15 thousand km2, it contains 21 nature reserves from 62 of those existing and created in the Leningrad Region, occupying itself 85 thousand km2.

The major type of Karelian Isthmus landscape is forest. Karelian Isthmus forest fund counts approximately 1.17 million hectares, which exceeds 75% of its square. St-Petersburg forest park zone (which forms the “Green belt”around St. Petersburg city) amounts to 132.800 hectares, it is about 12% of the Karelian Isthmus state forest fund.
Biological diversity of the Karelian Isthmus

According to the Russian botanical-geographic zoning the Karelian Isthmus belongs to the sub-zone of middle and southern taiga forests of Valdai-Onega sub-province of the North-European taiga province. The territory adjoining the Gulf of Finland (along the entire coastline) was classified as southern taiga. A.A. Nitsenko classifies the major part of the Isthmus as middle taiga, north-western part as the southern taiga, and the territory adjoining the gulf near St. Petersburg as the region with mixed features. In physical-geographic zoning of the north-west Russia, the entire territory is classified as the south taiga zone.

The greatest diversity of plant species is concentrated in regions with most contrasting habitats. Such in the Karelian Isthmus are primarily zones adjoining the coastline of the Gulf of Finland. Represented here are shallow waters with different ecological regimes, periodically flooded parts of the coast, including those with solonetz-like soils, sand coast banks and dunes swamped and non-swamped parts of terraces. Another source of biodiversity is the number of states of initial habitats and succession stages of vegetation represented in that region. Considering forest vegetation of the Karelian Isthmus from this point of view we should note the insufficient size of old climax forests usually associated with particular species of flora and species. Area of young growth also decreases. Therefore tasks of the conservation of biodiversity should include increase of areas of poorly represented stages and phases of ecosystem dynamics and also the conservation of boundary habitats (margins of swamps, banks of brooks, lakes, etc.)

Forest communities are the main type of plant assemblages. Forests are the major stabilising component of landscapes of the Karelian Isthmus. Cowberry and bilberry pine forests are predominant on sandy and loamy sand superficially podzolic soils. Pine and spruce cowberry pine and bilberry forests grow in the northern part on fine eluvium and eluvium-deluvium of granites and granite-gneisses. In the central part a large area is occupied by relatively productive bilberry and wood sorrel spruce and pine forests, on loamy sand and weakly podzolic soils. In southern parts of the Isthmus secondary birch tree and alder stands are predominant. Alder forests occur mostly in the lower terrace along the coast of the Gulf of Finland. Forests with broad-leaved varieties form mostly separate fragments. The major part of forests of haircap-moss and sphagnum types is represented in the south-eastern part of the territory adjoining the Ladoga Lake. However the total portion of swamp forests in the Karelian Isthmus is very small as compared to other districts of the region.

Meadow vegetation is rather monotonous. The majority of meadows earlier were in cultivated state; they are covered by a network of ditches and sometimes retain an admixture of grasses of high value and fabaceous. Spicate and bentgrass (Agrostis L.) meadows are predominant on slopes and in drained plains; tussock-grass (Deschampsia caesipitosa) meadows are predominant in depressions. Sweet vernal-grass (Anthoxantum odoratum), milfoil (Achillea millefolium), sheep’s sorrel (Rumex acetosella), mat-grass (Nardus L.) have the major role in grass stand on poor sandy soils. Dropwort (Filippendula L.) -- tussock-grass (Deschampsia caesipitosa) meadows with peat-humic-gley soils and also small sedge meadows are developed in the place of drained marshes and marshy soils. Tall sedge meadows occur along brooks. Herbaceous communities of forest meadows with a large portion of forest and forest meadow species are present in the south-western part of the isthmus within the forest park zone of St. Petersburg.
Swamps and Bogs

Swampy areas form a small portion of the majority of landscape regions of the Karelian Isthmus constituting 2-9% (on the average approximately 5.5%). The exception is the south-eastern part of the territory adjoining the Ladoga Lake, where marshes occupy a much larger area. In the area of undulating elevations relief in the north-west of the isthmus the marshes are small and are situated in elongated cavities between undulating elevations; these are mostly grass low moors, ancient lake mires, seldom high sphagnum bog. In the centre of the Isthmus bogs are represented by larger high ridge-pool complexes. Transitional grass-sphagnum bogs occur less frequently. Smaller bogs are present on terraces near the coast of the Gulf of Finland and in central upland of the Isthmus. In the south-eastern part of the Isthmus (on Ladoga lowlands) large high ridge-pool bogs and non-forested sedge-sphagnum bogs are predominant; swampy area constitutes up to 20%. In the lower terrace of the Ladoga Lake swampy area is even larger (up to 40%), lowland and transitional sedge-sphagnum swamps are predominant. In the Neva lowland (Prinevskaya Nizina) the majority of swamps have been drained and cultivated.
Rare and Protected Plant Species

Among rare and protected plant species the majority are related with littoral, sub-littoral and wetland habitats. Presence of such species was taken into account in determining location of many reserves and other protected areas (including those planned in the future). For instance, in the territory of reserve “Vyborgsky” species included in the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation occur, such as water-plantain (Ailsma L), beak-sedge (Rhynchospora Vahl), and wax myrtle (Myrica L.). Seventeen species found in the state reserve are included into the list of protected plants of the Leningrad Region, for which special protection is required for sedge (Carex L.), sundew (Drosera L), resurrection plant (Selaginella Beauv), tway blade (Listera R. Br.), valerian (Valeriana L.). In the same reserved a peculiar area of broad-leaved forest is protected. There are rare species also in state reserves “Lammin-Suo”, “Yuntolovsky”, “Motornoye-Vladimirovka” (the latter one is in the stage of being organised). Noted in the forests of reserve “Motornoye-Vladimirovka” is pasque flower (Pulsatilla L.) and in lakes -- lobelia (Lobelia L.) (both species are included into the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation). Relatively many rare species occur in the territory of the projected reserve “Gontovoye Boloto”. Of the species included into the Red Data Book apart f>

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owing occur in the Karelian Isthmus: catchfly (Silene L.), grape-fern (BotrychiumSw)., several species of orchids, quillworts, naiad species.
Existing Protected Areas

Protected natural territories in the Karelian Isthmus have various roles. These include ensuring the conservation of standards of natural environment, i.e. typical and rare landscapes, fulfilment of the major nature protection functions, retaining gene pool of plants and animals promoting the reproduction of natural resources.

Ten officially registered protected natural territories can now be counted in the Karelian Isthmus (beyond the forest park zone). Of these four are state reserves and six are natural monuments.

These protected natural objects were formed on the basis of resolutions of the Leningrad Regional Executive Committee No. 4 of 29.03.76. The Ornithological Reserve “Ozero Melkovodnoye” (Shallow Lake) was reorganised by the resolution of the Leningrad Regional Executive Committee No. 94 of 26.02.79 as a hunting reserve for the period up to 1989. By the resolution of the Leningrad Regional Executive Committee No. 366 of 25.12.89 the period of functioning of the hunting reserve was extended until 1999.

Among the state reserves there are two ornithological reserves (“Rakovyye Ozera” and “Ozero Melkovodnoye”), two hydrological reserves - “Lammin-Suo” and “Ozernoye”), one combined reserve (“Vyborgskii) and one botanical reserve(Lindulovskaya Roshcha”).

Of the four natural monuments, three - “Gryada Vyaryamyansel’kkya”, “Ozero Yastrebinoye” and “Ostrov Gustoi” - are geological-geomorphological objects (with adjoining water areas), and one - “Ozero Krasnoye” - is a water body typical of the Karelian Isthmus with intensive ore-formation in bottom deposits.
Forestry on the Karelian Isthmus

Forest land classification

With respect to their economical and ecological characteristics, location and intended use, Russia’s forests may be divided into three management groups. Moreover, the forests may be further subdivided into different protection classes. The management groups were taken into use as early as the 19th century and they will be preserved in the future.

The first management group (Group I) comprises forests with water protection, protective, sanitation and health-improving functions. Water protection areas include forests along rivers, lakes and other water systems, and forests providing protection for waters where valuable fish species come to spawn. Clear felling is forbidden in these areas, but intermediate felling is allowed. However, the annual wood-harvesting amount should not exceed annual increment. Forests along railways and important highways protect the soils against erosion. Urban forests and parks protect the water supply and recreation areas around towns, and they have sanitary and health-improving functions. Group I also includes forests belonging to other protection categories possessing significant environment-protection, scientific-and-historical, or socio-cultural values; forest preserves, national and nature parks and other nature reserves monument. All industrial felling of forest is forbidden.

The second management group (Group II) includes forests in densely populated areas with both protective and limited-exploitation values, as well as forests characterised by insufficient timber resources and strictly applied forest exploitation. Wood harvesting in Group II forests is limited to amounts equalling the annual growth. Clear felling is possible if special measures are taken to secure regeneration of treated sites.

The third group (Group III) comprises the forests of densely-forested regions, the said forests being of mainly industrial worth and intended for meeting the timber requirements of the national economy without incurring damage to their protective functions. The forests belonging to Group III are further subdivided into exploited forests and forests-in-reserve. The category forests-in-reserve includes forests that are not utilised due to their remoteness with respect to roads or other reason.
Forest management 

The principles of Forest Legislation of the Russian Federation ”, i.e. the Forest Law, together with the Constitution, provide the framework of forest management within the Russian Federation. The Forest Law defines the judicial, organisational, and economic mechanisms securing the rational use of forests as well as the reproduction and protection of forests with respect to ecological factors.

The most essential laws and instructions concerning forestry are as follows:
  • The Principles of Forest Legislation of the Russian Federation
  • The Law on the Federal Forest Service of Russian Federation
  • Forest Concessions within the Russian Federation
  • Instruction concerning final felling within the European part of Russia
  • Instruction concerning intermediate felling within the European part of Russia
  • Laws on Environmental Protection
19.12.1991 21.02.1992 02.06.1993

The forest administration is executed by the Leningrad Region Forest Committee. The Committee comprises 28 forestry districts, the Lisino Forestry vocationnal School, the Forest reclamation machinery station, the material supply base, the design bureau, the selection and seed farming enterprise, the plant protection and the soil chemistry laboratory. The Committee controls the forest management of the region through the forestry districts, being engaged in selection activity, the development of forest utilisation projects and undertaking the relevant construction. The Saint Petersburg Academy is the oldest forestry high educationnal establishment in Russia (it exists for some 200 years). The forest records are kept by the North Western State Woodland Management Enterprise (i.e. Lesproekt: Forest Project). The project reports on the forestry arrangement and development give recommendations on proper forestry activities, the scopes and methods of cutting and felling, and the reforestation measures. The State Committ>

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nt Petersburg and Leningrad Region is responsible for all kind of expertise concerning forest management and environmental protection. The Committee controls executed timber volumes, the respect of environmental laws, and the protection of natural reserved and monuments.
Forest exploitation on Karelian Isthmus

According to the Forest Law of the Russian Federation, applied since 04.02.97, authorised amount of final and intermediate felling are defining according to forest management plan (articles 62 and 72-74). Volumes calculated have to respect and to secure long-term rational and inexhaustible use of timber supply (article 50). Volumes and cutting surfaces are defined according to forest management plan and in respect of current laws and standards, dispositions and other technical instruction, which number amount to more than seventy. Final felling volumes (timber production) are established by Federal forest service of Russia, in collaboration with local institutions and authorities within each subject of the federation (article 62). On the opposite, volumes of intermediate felling (thinning and sanitation felling) are established by the Forest Committee. The way volumes are calculated, established and verified according to the New Forest Law is approximately the same as it used to be in the past.

Volumes are calculated, as a rule, each 10 years. According to the Forest Law, re-calculation of final felling volume is strictly forbidden (article 117). Intermediate felling do not exceed the necessary volume of timber to be cut to keep forests in a satisfactory state of conservation with respect to annual growth. Forest management plan in Leningrad Region has been elaborated by the North Western State Woodland Management Enterprise in 1991-1992. Total timber volume for Karelian Isthmus amounted to 1,352.9 thousand m3. Considering economic crisis that arose during this period, volume was diminished to 1,339 thousand m3, of which:

  • final felling
  • intermediate felling
  • others