The Enchanted Forests

https://www.wdl.org/en/item/5262/#q=Prokudin+Gorskii
Prokudin Gorskii, 1910 Cordon (Guardhouse) in the Forest

Back in the early 20th century, Russia had a vast area of forests located around the Ural Mountains. Forests were a prized possession to the Russians as it offered them a vast amount of resources. They were also believed to have healing powers and helped people with tuberculosis by purifying the air. The log house here shown in the picture to the left was a guard point for a forester. This specific log house was owned by the man in the picture. This offered a sheltered living space for him as he hunted and cared for his privately owned section of forest. (Library of Congress, Cordon (Guardhouse) in the Forest)

Dating all the way back to the 8th century, Russia created, reformed, and built upon legislation regarding the forests and their protection. In the earlier centuries, the forests were used to hunt, fish, and gather food and resources. At the time, people had the right to use the forest however they pleased as long as they owned the land. As centuries passed, the forests began to be overused and the geographical areas that they covered began to diminish. This was mainly due to ship building and the creation of log buildings.

In the mid 19th century, an organization called the Foresters Corps was created to help ensure the protection and legal use of the forests. (Forest.ru, A History of Russian Forestry and its Leaders, chapter 1) This organization and its goals can be closely related to the National Parks Services and their forest rangers in the United States. Moving into the beginning of the 20th century, vasts amounts of exhibitions took place to survey the large forests and rivers to gain a better understanding of the untouched beauty of Russia.

The value of the Russian forests have grown over time along with the urge for their protection. These forests offered food, resources, and protection against invading enemies from the East.

Citations:

Library of Congress, September 28, 2016, https://www.wdl.org/en/item/5262/#q=Prokudin+Gorskii

Forest.ru, http://old.forest.ru/eng/publications/history/03.html

5 thoughts on “The Enchanted Forests

  1. Josh,

    I read your post, some pretty interesting stuff. I was surprised to learn about the belief in the healing forests and purified air. As far as the vast resources, I’m sure there were plenty. It makes me wonder what the logging industry was like around this time. I do appreciate their effort to help keep Russian forests beautiful and untouched though! Good luck in the course!

    Chris,

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  2. Yeah Chris, I definitely am curious about the logging industry up in that region and am going to look more into that. There was an ironworking factory in the city of Kyshtym (in present-day Chelyabinsk Oblast) which was briefly talked about so I wonder if there was a resources nearby that helped run the factory. This log house was in the forest right outside of Kystym. Good luck in the course too!

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  3. Josh,
    I like how you highlighted the important value the Russians used their land spiritually, and tried to make things right be preserving the forests after their major industrial shift. My only question is, has there been a lot of effort to fix the harm done from those areas you stated were being overused?

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    1. The overuse of the land was mostly because of private ownership and what the owners would use their land for. To help prevent further overuse, the Foresters Corps was formed and restrictions and regulations were put in place. As Russia began to experience a shift towards industrialization, it mainly took place in small towns and cities that were being developed. A vast amount of the forests had been unknown to the majority of Russia and it wasn’t until the early 20th century that vasts amounts of surveying was being conducted.

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  4. That source you’re using (Oldforest.ru) is fascinating and seems really rich. Good find! Thanks for writing about such an important, but often overlooked topic. Timber was hugely important in the national economy and in the popular imagination as a source of wealth and spiritual inspiration, and you touch on some of those issues here. Can you work in a citation to the image from the PK collection? Also, Khystym is famous…not in a good way: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyshtym_disaster

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