On January 1st, 2020, began the German-Russian research project ASTAT – “Development of Sustainable Forest Management and Use Concepts for Aspen Forests in the Republic of Tatarstan” –, and will be running until December 2022. The objectives of the project are to analyze aspen stands in the Republic of Tatarstan and to develop recommendations for a future strategy for sustainable forest development and value creation for the large and increasing aspen stands.
Tatarstan is situated in the European part of the Russian Federation in the center of the Eastern European lowlands, at the confluence of the two major rivers, Volga and Kama. The total area of the republic is 67,847 km2. Its population around 3.9 million inhabitants and ca. 1.3 million live in the capital of the republic, Kazan. The territory extends about 290 km in the north-south direction and 460 km in the west-east direction. Kazan is approximately 2,620 km away from Dresden.
The ASTAT project is funded by the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE) and coordinated by Prof. Jürgen Pretzsch from the Institute of International Forestry and Forest Products (TU Dresden). The partners of the project in Germany, besides the above-mentioned institute, are the professorship of Silviculture at the TU Dresden (Prof. Sven Wagner) and the Institute of Wood Technology Dresden (IHD), Dr. Wolfram Scheiding. The partners in Russia are the Ministry of Forestry of the Republic of Tatarstan and the Eastern European Forest Experimental Station of the All-Russian Scientific Institute of Silviculture and Mechanization of Forestry “VNIILM” in Kazan and as scientific advisor, Prof. Vladimir Petrov from the St. Petersburg Forest University.
From 3- 6 March 2020, the first workshop of the project took place with all partners in Tatarstan. The objectives of this workshop were to get to know each other personally and to specify the fixed work packages in terms of time and content. From the TU Dresden participants were Prof. Pretzsch, Prof. Bemmann, Dr. Auch, Dr. Moosmann and Alina Nasibulina and from IHD Dr. Scheiding. On March 4th, the partners in Tatarstan under the leadership of the Minister of Forestry Ravil Kuzjurov presented the Ministry of Forestry and the current challenges of Tatarstan’s forestry from the perspective of this institution. The meeting at the Ministry was attended by Deputy Minister Rais Gumerov (Head of the Department of Forest Reconstruction and Afforestation), Timur Galiev (Acting Director of the “VNIILM” “Eastern European LOS” Branch Fedor Ilyin), Alexei Petrov (Director of “Sabinskiyles”), Ilgizar Zaripov (Chairman of the Public Council at the Ministry of Forestry of the Republic of Tatarstan), Prof. Dr. Peter Kuzjurov (Director of the Ministry of Forestry of the Republic of Tatarstan) and Dr. Vladimir Petrov from the St. Petersburg Forestry University.
In the meeting, the age-group distribution and health status of aspen stands and the use of aspen wood in Tatarstan were presented and the associated challenges discussed. The total area of aspen stands in the republic is approximately 236,000 ha and the total stock is approximately 41.7 million m3. The wood supply in mature and overaged stands reaches 28 million m3. As a result of the sharp decline in clear-cutting, also in the aspen stands, there is a constant increase in mature and overaged stands. Over the past 15 years, this area has grown from 45,100 ha to 122,600 ha. The quality of these aspen stands is strongly negatively influenced by many diseases. The main disease is its core rot, which is caused by the fire sponge (Phellinus tremulae).
Afterward, there was an exchange of views on the approach to the realization of the ASTAT project, as well as on the expectations of the project partners. The participants of the meeting discussed the issues of the development of a set of forest management measures for the cultivation and maintenance of aspen stands, the increase of their productivity and the possibility of organizing the processing of aspen wood. Furthermore, the project partners visited the districts of Alexeyevsk and Nurlatsk, where they were able to inspect the condition of aspen stands in the Biljarsk and Nurlatsk forest offices.
During the workshop the participants visited the Forest Breeding and Seed Production Center of the Republic of Tatarstan in the Forestry Department in Sabinsk. According to Mr. Vasil Gizzatullin, Chief Forester of the Sabinsk Forest Service, the center is one of the largest automated tree nurseries in Russia, where planting material is grown with a closed root system. The production capacity of the center is 12 million plants per year. The Sabinsk forest company also has its own sawmill with integrated pallet and consumer goods production. Wood pellets and sawdust are produced from the saw by-products. Furthermore, it runs an apiary and a bottling plant with water from its own spring, which is sold nationwide under the brand name “Urman” and produces typical folk-art articles.
In conclusion, the first preparatory meeting for the German-Russian research project ASTAT in Tatarstan has reached its goals. The German partners gained first insights into the forestry of the Republic of Tatarstan and into the ‘problem’ of sustainable management of aspen stands. The next workshop in Dresden, planned for the end of April 2020, has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic in agreement between the German and Russian partners. Depending on the improvement of this situation, the workshop will take place during the course of this year.
By Anna Moosmann