Stretching nearly halfway around the northern hemisphere, Russia is the largest country by area in the world, encompassing 6.6 million square miles and climate zones including Arctic tundra, dry steppe, and subtropical areas; but Russia's vast forests are by far the greatest landscape, covering nearly 70% of the country's territory with dense taiga and mixed forests. Russian forests comprise about 75% of all boreal and nearly 20% of total global forest area and play a tremendously important role as a global carbon sink.
The great forests of Siberia and the Russian Far East are under threat, however. The country's Forest Code was heavily amended in 2006, all but eliminating the national and regional Forest Service and most forest management services. The effects have been devastating:
- Lack of adequate funding and personnel to manage fuels or fight fires has contributed to the catastrophic forest fires seen each summer in many regions.
- Illegal and unsustainable logging is contributing to a sharp decline in biodiversity and important habitat for endangered species like the Siberian Tiger and Amur Leopard.