The Taiga: The World’s Wildest Place?
The taiga is the world’s northernmost forested area, stretching across Russia from East to West. It features a highly dense wooded area of mostly coniferous trees atop a marshy ground and constitutes one of the world’s most severe climates. Due to the large amount of oxygen it releases into the environment, the taiga is sometimes referred to as the “green lungs” of our planet.
Its climate, while harsh, varies across different areas. In the West, relatively warm summers give way to mild summers. Its eastern part, however, features some of the coldest weather in the world, with temperatures sometimes dropping below -60 °С. Summers there are very short.
Its swampy ground means the taiga can’t support many birch trees, rowan, aspen or alder. Mosses, lichens, shrubs and mushrooms, however, abound. It also features many spruce trees, pines, larches, firs and cedars. Much of the nature is pristine and has never been in contact with human development.
Local spruce trees are famous for their healing powers and are used in many dietary substances and vitamins. The Siberian cedar (Pinus sibirica) is one of the main tree species in the taiga. It can live up to 800 years. Each cone contains 30 to 150 nuts, which are eaten by both animals and people. The wood is frequently used for construction and for making furniture.
The fauna of the taiga is abundant and includes musk deer, chipmunk, wolverine, sable, nutcracker and the Siberian tiger. The wolverine – another inhabitant – is a large and solitary predator. It easily climbs trees, has excellent vision, hearing and a very good sense of smell. Its fur is brown, thick, rough, and very warm, which is important in sub-zero temperatures.
Sable has very good hearing and a strong sense of smell. It has a terrestrial habitat, but it can also climb trees very well. It’s a nimble and solitary predator. Apart from eating other animals, it feeds on cedar nuts, bog whortleberry and rowan berry. The beautiful fur of this animal can fetch a hefty sum on the market.
The Siberian musk deer is a small animal. It feeds on lichens, fir needles of spruce, cedar and other plants. It has a chestnut-colored, thick and long coat.
The Amur (Siberian) tiger is a big cat from the Far East. This is a very rare and endangered animal. It has a strong and flexible body with a long tail. The tiger has a rounded head, and its ears are short.
Unfortunately, today the wild taiga is rapidly disappearing. Deforestation, human habitation and forest fires have all left their mark. Without a concerted effort to restore it, future generations may only learn about the taiga – and the animals that live therein – from history books.