Russia on the Rise

At almost twice the size of the United States, Russia is by far the largest country in the world in terms of land mass. It spans nine time zones and borders more than a dozen other countries.

It's no surprise that this giant country is also home to the largest forest area on earth, comprising more than one-fifth of the world's forests. Russia's forests cover about 45 percent of its land and alone are larger than the continent of Australia. They account for over 50 percent of the world's conifers and one percent of the world's biomass. Vast coniferous forests, known in Russia as " the taiga," cover Siberia and represent the largest forested region on earth.

With the world's largest harvestable area and untapped timber reserves, Russia is growing into a global forestry giant. The country's forestry industry has become more competitive in terms of timber harvesting, hauling, and processing costs, as the result of more investment in modern logging equipment, sawmills, and other equipment such as kilns, planers, and moulders.

Close up image of a pine branch

Industry Overview

  • Largest forest area in the world
  • Leading round-wood exporter
  • Leading exporter to China
  • Logging sites typically clear-cut
  • Mostly softwood
  • 90-percent cut-to-length
  • Full-tree logging popular in Siberia

MODERNIZED AND MECHANIZED

Russian loggers harvest mainly softwood, along with some hardwood, including spruce, fir, birch, and aspen. Logging sites are typically clear-cuts of naturally grown, publicly owned forests. Operations range from small private companies to giant holdings with hundreds of forestry machines.

In recent years, Russia's logging operations have become much more modern. Today, most are fully mechanized. Mechanization began in the 1990s, when Timberjack (purchased by John Deere in 2000) opened dealerships and began selling forestry equipment. Originally, full-tree methods were introduced in Siberia, where they remain popular. Now approximately 90 percent of operations all around the country use cut-to-length methods that include both tracked and wheeled harvesters. Many tracked harvesters are lightly modified excavators that started their lives as diggers.

EMERGING GLOBAL LEADER

Through modernization, Russia has become the world's leader in round-wood exports, and it's ranked fifth in terms of cutting volume. It is the largest supplier to the world's largest importer of wood products, China. Russia primarily exports round wood to China, but an export tax on softwood logs has provided an incentive to Russian companies to process logs in their own sawmills. As a result, while Russia's export volume to China continues to rise, it now comprises more lumber and fewer logs.

Russia also exports wood products to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries of Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan; Japan; Finland; and other European countries. With experts predicting lumber shortages in coming years, and with traditional suppliers in Europe and North America unable to keep up with demand, Russia is well positioned to fill the gap.