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Grigory Pasko: A Trip to the Thürmer Woods

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Russia’s vast, beautiful woodlands are indeed a national treasure, symbolizing the rugged solitude and simple happiness of the collective imagination.  Like in Leonid Filatov’s fairy tale of Fedot the Archer, we all dream of getting a job as a forester.

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This past summer I embarked on a trip to find one of these forests, bringing me to Mozhaisky Rayon – one of the most forested in the environs of Moscow. Beautiful places. Happy hunting grounds. Corpulent fields. Fat cows. Tractors tilling the soil. Hay rolled in bales… The forester Nikolai Belinsky, who was accompanying me, said that the owner of these plentiful lands – is a general of the KGB in reserve. Well, what can I say, the man has, apparently, found himself. It can be seen right away – life for him has worked out well.

…We drove up to the forest. Nikolai recounted about how this forest had been planted according to the technology of the famous Karl Franzevich Thürmer.

A German by origin, Karl Thürmer began his activity in the capacityof superintendent of the hunt on the estate of Graf S.S. Uvarov inMozhaisky Uyezd, in Porechye, in the year 1853. Here is how he wroteabout this in his book : «…I had the opportunity to familiarize myselfwith those abject situations in which were found the forests, and wassomewhat surprised to encounter such lack of management as reignedeverywhere».

Personally, the foresters of Mozhaisky Uyezd even today speak abouthow because of insufficient funding of the sector, the times of lack ofmanagement are returning.

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From a letter of I.V. Shutov,merited arboriculturist of Russia, corr.-mem. of RASKhN, head scholarlyfellow of SPbNIILKh, professor to President of Russia V. V. Putin,2006:

“Now in Russia are had many millions of hectares, not covered withforest, …and also – around 40 mln. ha of abandoned ploughlands, onwhich now grows that which, in essence, does not have commercial value.If only on these abandoned ploughlands (i.e. in lived-in regions ofRussia!) to create targeted forestryrawmaterial or comprehensiveagroforestryindustrial plantations, the country could already in 40-60years receive here annually approximately twice as much timber as allthe logging operators in all the forests of Russia had gather at thepresent time… The above-stated is not a fantasy. This is the results ofour R&D, relying on domestic experience, about which none haverecounted better than our coryphaei – K.F.Thürmer in the book «Fiftyyears of forestry management practice» , prof. M.M.Orlov in the book«Forestry management in the Kharkov domains …» , prof. K.B.Losicky andV.S. Chuyenkov in the book «Benchmark forests» and many others.

That which K.F.Thürmer and many of his colleagues did earlier in different parts of Russia is impossible to overestimate. However, our time requires more, including: …we need in a relatively short period and with not excessive expenditures of monetary funds to correct that evil which the logging operators have already caused to our forests, and specifically – we need to replace the low-value aspen forests and semi-commercial birch forests that have arisen approximately on 50% of the totally clear-cut lands with full-value coniferous timber stands, in which parvifoliate species would already be not the dominants, but a useful filler for the coniferous trees».

I.V.Shutov before all else had in mind precisely the revival of the technologies of Karl Thürmer. Technologies that are not yet forgotten and that can bring the country benefit.

In the words of the forester Belinsky, the cultivated forests in Mozhaisky Rayon now are in need of restoration. For this is needed money. He showed me a calculation. Uprooting and removal of stumps, levelling out of the area, outplanting of planting stock, delivery to the harvesting area of nursery transplants, mechanized planting of the forest, care for the forestry crops… From the big bunch of numbers I understood that what is being spoken of is an initial sum of a hundred and a half thousand rubles. Less than three and a half thousand euros.And what? – thought I, – nobody could find this money anywhere? Neither at the Rayon, nor at Rosleskhoz [the Federal Forestry Management Agency], nor at the general-agricole from the KGB?..

…And also Belinsky recounted to me that he loves his work. From his smile I understood: life for Nikolai has worked out well.

Then I read Karl Thürmer’s book, from which I understood that the life of this remarkable person had also worked out well.

And yesterday I read a notation about how the Russian entrepreneur Roman Abramovich had dined in one of the New York restaurants, having paid for this, recalculated in euros, 30 000 (thirty thousand). The sum of the time comprised in so doing 4. 5 thousand euros. A thousand more than is required for the restoration of Thürmer’s forest in Mozhaisky Rayon.

One can guess that life for Roman Abramovich has also worked out well.