Between Predation and Protection

Forests and Forestry in Late Tsarist Primor'e

in Sibirica
Mark Sokolsky

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This article investigates the interaction between late imperial Russian colonization in Primor'e and the region's forest environments. Drawing on the records of administrators concerned with resettlement, as well as naturalists, travelers, and other contemporary observers, the article shows that Russian settlement, together with migration from China and Korea, had evident effects on Primor'e's taiga, but these changes were also accompanied by the emergence of widespread conservationist sentiment. The article argues that both increased exploitation of forests as well as conservation ultimately derived from the desire to project Russian imperial power. Settlement, which had many consequences for the natural world, was primarily a means to hold the territory against competitors. Conservation measures focused on limiting the actions of East Asian migrants and peasant settlers, as their role in deforestation seemed to impede the success of colonization. To conserve forest resources and ensure long-term growth, officials advocated rational exploitation through industrial timbering paired with state oversight, both of which were intended to fulfill the broader goal of securing imperial power in the Far East.

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Interdisciplinary Journal of Siberian Studies


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