Russia’s so-called Forest Fund comprises some 1.2 billion hectares, approximately 775 million of which are areas of productive forests. Russia still has the largest forest area in the world (23%of the global forests). Forests are a major land use-land cover type in Russia. Forest land (territories identified for forests and forestry) comprise 51.6% of the country’s land. Closed forests (forested areas) cover 776 million ha or 45.4% of the total land area.
Russian forests are in the boreal zone that defines the prevalence of coniferous species (70%). The main bulk of the forests (78%) are concentrated in Asian Russia, with only 22% located in European Russia. Most of the forests in northern Siberia and the Far East are located in remote and hardly accessible areas - commercial harvesting, according to the optimistic estimations, is performed only at 170-250 million hectares.
Major dominant tree species are coniferous varieties include larch (35% of all forested area), pine (16%), spruce and fir (12.5%) and Stone pine (Russian cedar) – 5.6%. Deciduous broadleaved forests comprise 17%, mostly secondary birch and aspen. Birch is the most widespread of the deciduous species, prevailing on 13% of forested area. Relatively small areas (2.5%) are covered by valuable hard wood deciduous forests dominated by oak, ash-tree, beech etc.
The areas of birch woods make about 97 million hectares with the total stock of industrial timber of about 9.8 billion m3. These woods stand on the third place by area after larch and pine forests. In the mixed forests of the European part of Russia the birch woods take the second place by the area covered with wood. As a whole across Russia the birch makes about 12% from the total stocks of timber. Certain areas of Russia have the best birch quality in the world. Birch is a very good raw material for plywood. It is uniform quality with excellent strength, peeling and gluing characteristic.