The Siberian boreal forest is the largest tract of unbroken forest in the world. Several boreal eco-regions expand into the Amur-Heilong River basin. The large tract found in the northern Amur River basin is just a small portion of the boreal forest of Siberia as a whole. The cold temperatures that create permafrost and seasonal droughts favor coniferous forests of larch, spruce, fir, and pine. This is the world's largest remaining wilderness and a place that provides a secure home for many species of plants and animals. Russia's largest populations of brown bears, moose, wolves, reindeer, and other boreal mammals inhabit these forests.
East Siberian Taiga and Trans-Baikal Coniferous Forest eco-regions, each in its own way, present extreme climatic conditions, while two additional forest eco-regions in the boreal zone (Da Xing’an/Great Hingan-Dzhagdy Mountains and Okhotsk-Manchurian Taiga) differ from the East Siberian taiga mainly because they experience greater influence of the "Manchurian/Daurian" biota to the south and are located in a somewhat warmer climate zone.
Given its size and inhospitable environment, most of boreal forest has experienced relatively low levels of human influence. Therefore, we still can identify “intact forest landscapes” – tracks of pristine wilderness of 50 000 hectares or more in size (See Map on Forest cover change). However, extensive coal and gold mining, logging, and oil and gas development are underway in the southern part of the boreal forest. Large areas of forests have been cut to fuel industrial processes such as metal smelting, paper production or they have been degraded by air pollution and fires. The region is also threatened by plans for several major hydropower projects in the Amur and Lena River Basins.
Upper Amur (Photo by Yuri Darman)