Skip to main content
Log in

Forest Cover Changes in the Center of East European Plain Over the Last 150 Years

  • Published:
Contemporary Problems of Ecology Aims and scope


Changes in forest cover in the center of the East European Plain (Central Russian Upland) from the end of the 19th century to the end of 20th century have been assessed. Over that period, forest cover has increased in the northern part of the studied territory and declined in the southern part. After the end of the 1990s and beginning of 2000s, increases in forest cover occurred within the subzones of mixed coniferous–broad-leaved forest, while in the southern regions it has hardly manifested at all. The fallow land overgrowth rate, without any anthropogenic interference, has been determined for the Central Russian Upland (from 10 to 50% of fallow area has been covered by forest vegetation over a period of 10 years), decreasing gradually in from west-northwest to east-southeast. Special attention is paid to the forests that grew on nonforested lands over a period of 150 years. This process occurs everywhere in the northern part of the Upland and along the river valleys in the southern part. The forest structure of newly formed forests is studied as well (deciduous, mixed, pine, and spruce). In the southern parts of the Central Russian Upland, the newly grown forests are mostly pine plantations. The analysis of the field data suggests that, in the Central Russian Upland, within the broadleaved forests subzone, fallows are usually overgrown with birch (Betula pendula), or, less frequently, with aspen (Populus tremula). On the western and southwestern slopes, the overgrowth occurs with broadleaved (Querqus robur and Acer platanoides), small-leaved (Populus tremula), and steppe species (Prúnus spinósa, Malus praecox, and Pyrus pyraster). In the south, overgrown fallows are dominated by steppe or adventive species (Acer negundo).

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 3.
Fig. 4.
Fig. 5.
Fig. 6.
Fig. 7.

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. A report on natural reserves and protection of environment in Kaluga oblast in 2014, 2015. upload/minekolog/golovatskay/doklad_2014.pdf. Accessed March 3, 2018.

  2. A report on ecological situation in Tula oblast in 2017, 2018. b6b8b4cc9be728c2424fe.pdf. Accessed April 15, 2018.

  3. Arkhipov, S.S., Series of oak-forbes associations Nemorus—type (D2), Tr. Lesn. Opyt. Delu Tul’sk. Zasek, 1939, no. 3, pp. 41–184.

  4. Arkhipova, M.V., Current state of broad-leaved forests of Central Russian Upland (based on cartographic and remote sensing data), Extended Abstract of Cand. Sci. (Geogr.) Dissertation, Moscow: Moscow State Univ., 2014.

  5. Arkhipova, M.V., Variation in forest area on the Central Russian Upland within the last 250 years, Contemp. Probl. Ecol., 2015, vol. 8, no. 7, pp. 830–837.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Avanesova, A.A., The successions of steppe phytocenosises of European forest-steppe (by the example of the Alekhin Central Black Earth Nature Reserve), Extended Abstract of Cand. Sci. (Biol.) Dissertation, Kursk: Kursk State Univ., 2006.

  7. Bartalev, S.A., Egorov, V.A., Ershov, D.V., Isaev, A.S., Lupyan, E.A., Plotnikov, D.E., and Uvarov, I.A., Mapping of Russia’s vegetation cover using MODIS satellite spectroradiometer data, Sovrem. Probl. Distantsionnogo Zondirovaniya Zemli Kosm., 2011, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 285–302.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Belevantsev, V.G., Forest cover and river network of the Central Russian Belogorye in 1780s, 1880s, and 1980s, Sovrem. Probl. Nauki Obraz., 2012, no. 6. http://www. Accessed December 3, 2015.

  9. Bobrovskii, M.V., Kozel’skie zaseki (ekologo-istoricheskii ocherk) (The Kozel’skie Zaseki Museum: Ecological and Historical Description), Kaluga: Izd. N. Bochkarevoi, 2002.

  10. Bugaev, V.A., Musievskii, A.L., and Tsaralunga, V.V., Dubravy lesostepi (Forest-Steppe Oak Forests), Voronezh: Voronezh. Gos. Lesotekh. Akad., 2013.

  11. Chendev, Yu., Hubbart, J., Terekhin, E., Lupo, A., Sauer, T., and Burras, L., Recent afforestation in the Iowa River and Vorskla River basins: a comparative trends analysis, Forests, 2016, vol. 7, no. 11, p. 278. Degtyar’, A.V. and Grigor’eva, O.I., Shift of forest cover in Belgorod oblast over 400-year period, Nauchn. Ved. Belgorod. Gos. Univ., Ser.: Estestv. Nauki, 2018, vol. 42, no. 4, pp. 574–586.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Hansen, M.C., Potapov, P.V., Moore, R., Hancher, M., Turubanova, S.A., Tyukavina, A., Thau, D., Stehman, S.V., Goetz, S.J., Loveland, T.R., Kommareddy, A., Egorov, A., Chini, L., Justice, C.O., and To-wnshend, J.R.G., High-resolution global maps of 21st-century forest cover change, Science, 2013, vol. 342, pp. 850–853.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Kazantseva, T.I., Bobrovskaya, N.I., and Tishchenko, V.V., Features of the restoration of fallow land vegetation of meadow steppes of Central Chernozem area (Voronezh oblast), Arid. Ekosist., 2010, vol. 16, no. 42, pp. 76–86.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Krasnov, Yu.A., Rannee zemledelie i zhivotnovodstvo v lesnoi polose Vostochnoi Evropy (Early Land and Cattle Farming in the Forest Zone of Eastern Europe), Moscow: Nauka, 1971.

  15. Kravtsova, V.I., Lur’e, I.K., and Tutubalina, O.V., Dynamics of distribution of forests in Moscow region using GIS technologies, Vestn. Mosk. Univ., Ser. 5: Geogr., 1995, no. 3, pp. 76–82.

  16. Kuksa, I.V., Dynamics of forest distribution according to satellite images and old maps, Extended Abstract of Cand. Sci. (Geogr.) Dissertation, Moscow, 1993.

  17. Lobanov, G.V., Trishkin, B.V., Protasova, A.P., and Avramenko, M.V., Change of forest cover in Middle Desna River basin during agricultural use: historical-geographic pattern, impact on landscapes and nature management, Byull. Bryansk. Otd., Russ. Bot. O-va, 2017, no. 3 (11), pp. 49–56.

  18. Lyuri, D.I., Goryachkin, S.V., Karavaeva, N.A., Denisenko, E.A., and Nefedova, T.G., Dinamika sel’skokhozyaistvennykh zemel’ v Rossii v XX veke i postagrogennoe vosstanovlenie rastitel’nosti i pochv (Dynamics of Agricultural Lands in Russia in the 20th Century and Postagrogenic Recovery of Vegetation and Soils), Moscow: GEOS, 2010.

  19. Milov, L.V., Velikorusskii pakhar’ i osobennosti rossiiskogo istoricheskogo protsessa (Great Russian Plowman and Features of the Russian Historical Process), Moscow: ROSSPEN, 2001.

  20. Moskalenko, S.V. and Bobrovskii, M.V., Renewal of trees on the abandoned arable lands in the Kaluzhskie Zaseki State Nature Reserve, Byull. Bryansk. Otd., Russ. Bot. O-va, 2014, no. 1(3), pp. 48–54.

  21. Musievskii, A.L., Dynamics of forest cover and the structure of forest reserves in Voronezh oblast, Lesotekh. Zh., 2013, no. 3, pp. 13–21.

  22. Myachkova, N.A., Klimat SSSR: uchebnik (Climate of USSR: Manual), Moscow: Mosk. Gos. Univ., 1983.

  23. Novenko, E.Yu., Reconstruction of wood vegetation dynamics in the Kulikovo Field Nature Reserve in Middle and Late Holocene, Nat. Conserva. Res., Zapoved. Nauka, 2017, no. 2, pp. 66–76.

  24. Ryzhkov, O.V. and Ryzhkova, G.A., Use of GIS mappingfor analysis of vegetation cover dynamics of pasture in Central Chernozem Nature Reserve and the planning of nature-reserve measures, Materialy Mezhdunarodnoi nauchno-prakticheskoi konferentsii posvyashchennoi 130-letiyu so dnya rozhdeniya professora V.V. Alekhina “Rezhimy stepnykh osobo okhranyaemykh prirodnykh territorii,” pos. Zapovednyi, 15–18 yanvarya 2012 g. (Proc. Int. Sci.-Pract. Conf. Dedicated to the 130th Anniversary of Prof. V.V. Alekhin “Regimes of Steppe Strictly Protected Natural Territories,” Zapovednyi Settl., January 15–18, 2012), Kursk: Tsentr.-Chernozem. Gos. Zapoved., 2012, pp. 168–187.

  25. Skol’zneva, L.N. and Kririk, A.I., Vegetation dynamics in the Galich’ya Gora Nature Reserve over last 95 years, Vestn. Voronezh. Gos. Univ., Ser.: Khim., Biol., Farm., 2007, no. 2, pp. 100–109.

  26. Spetsial’naya karta Evropeiskoi Rossii (Special Map of European Russia), Strel’bitskii, I.A., Ed., St. Peterbusrg: Voen.-Totopogr. Otd., Gen. Shtaba, 1868–1887.

  27. Spiridonov, A.I., Geomorfologiya evropeiskoi chasti SSSR (Geomorphology of European Parts of USSR), Moscow: Vysshaya Shkola, 1978.

  28. Tikhonova, E.V., The structure of forest cover of watershed basin of a small river in subzone of coniferous-broad-leaved forests in the center of Russian Plain, Extended Abstract of Cand. Sci. (Biol.) Dissertation, Moscow: Inst. Sci. Inf. Soc. Sci., Russ. Acad. Sci., 2006.

  29. Tsvetkov, M.A., Izmenenie lesistosti evropeiskoi Rossii s kontsa XVII stoletiya po 1914 g. (Shift of Forest Cover in European Russia from the End of 17th Century until 1914), Moscow: Akad. Nauk SSSR, 1957.

  30. Vostochnoevropeiskie lesa: istoriya v golotsene i sovremennost’ (East European Forests: History in Holocene and in Present Time), Smirnova, O.V., Ed., Moscow: Nauka, 2004, book 2.

  31. Zagorovskii, V.P., Belgorodskaya cherta (Belgorod Frontiers), Voronezh: Voronesh. Gos. Univ., 1969.

  32. Zony i tipy poyasnosti rastitel’nosti Rossii i sopredel’nykh territorii, Karta masshtaba 1 : 8 000 000 (Zones and Altitude Types of Vegetation of Russia and Adjacent Territories, Scale of Map 1 : 8 000 000), Ogureeva, G.N., Ed., Moscow: Ekor, 1999.

Download references


This study was carried out with a financial support from the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, project nos. 15-05-04948 and 16-05-00142.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to M. V. Arkhipova.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interests. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Statement on the welfare of animals. This article does not contain any studies involving animals performed by any of the authors.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Arkhipova, M.V. Forest Cover Changes in the Center of East European Plain Over the Last 150 Years. Contemp. Probl. Ecol. 13, 825–834 (2020).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: