Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What about human impacts?

In terms of human impacts of this ecosystem, it is a relatively good status. This is mostly due to the isolated nature of the taiga, as well as the extreme temperatures that render the lands virtually uninhabitable by most. However, there are some negative impacts on the taiga due to humans; these dangers range from logging to poaching. Traditionally, boreal forests are the world’s largest source of wood and timber products, given the massive amounts of coniferous trees that occupy the expanse of Russian land. Additionally, timber exportation and clear-cutting proves to be a major source of profit for locals, considering the lack of cities and towns and emphasis on natural products. Even though clear-cutting is most efficient for this region, it strips the animals from their lands and displaces habitats. Additionally, other threats to this region include extraction for oil and gas, as well as forest fires. However, there is much debate over the phenomenon of firest fires in the taiga: some scientists claim that the fires are devastating to the local flora and fauna and seek to massacre the vegetation, while others prove that forest fires are a naturally occuring facet that balance the boundaries of the habitats with current ecological impacts (see chart on existence of forest fires below).
          A critical threat to the taiga is poaching of animals for skins and bones to sell in international markets. This most directly affects the Siberian tiger, for these tigers only live in the Primorski Krai and Khabarovsk Krai regions of eastern Siberia. Sadly, there are only 200-300 still in existence today, which proves the devastating effect of poaching on the tiger population. For many Siberians, poaching these animals proves to be quite lucrative, since it is estimated that for each pelt sold, one can gain up to $5,000.  Thus, the selling of animal pelts and bones provides a solid way for many people to gain a profit, especially in Siberia where the jobs are more precarious than in wealthy, major urban centers.
Courtesy of "Extent, Distribution and Ecological Role of Fire in Russian Forests"

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