Bio-resources are renewable but exhaustible natural resources. Today the number of studied life forms on the Earth is about 2 millions species, and the total number of species most likely exceeds 10 millions (the majority are undiscovered life forms of tropical woods).
Natural biota of Russia is a unique resource which gives about 20 tons of organic matter per hectare annually, woods are most productive in this respect. Every year Russia produces 230 tons of photosynthesis products per man.
Wild nature is a basis for agriculture, forestry, fishery, hunting and other crafts - for all the variety of economic and social activities of population.
FloraFlora of the Russian Federation is a part of national wealth and represents an enormous value. Natural vegetation is a basis for steady, ecologically adequate development of the country and its regions.
Natural growth covers almost all territory of Russia and is rather various taking into consideration zoning and height differentiation. About 1600 millions hectares of soils have vegetation.
Today about 11 400 species of plants are registered on the territory of the Russian Federation. In aggregate they represent approximately 50% of floraflora of the USSR. Every year tens of new species are found and registered on the territory of Russia. Sometimes plants distributed in adjacent territories and also numerous exotic species especially of Northern American origin are found. Endemic species make up about 20% of total number.
The Red Book of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (1988) contains 533 species of plants. At least 2-3 thousands of species are in danger. Specially protected natural territories including state reserves and national parks have about 75% of species of vascular plants of Russia. 36% among 440 species of angiosperms registered in the Red Book of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic are in real danger and may be lost at any moment since they are not protected in natural and artificial conditions.
There are 1363 species among vascular plants of Russian floraflora that possess useful properties. 1103 species are used in scientific and traditional folk medicine (200 species are officially allowed in medical practice, 350 species are used as food plants). 460 species having practical value grow only on the territory of Russia.
Rare and disappearing species can not survive in real natural conditions. Such species need special care. Regional lists of rare species form regional Red Books and the Red Book of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. The latter contains the data on 533 species of floraflora of the country which require protection. Among them: 440 species (82%) - phanerogams (angiosperms), 11 - gymnospermous, 10 - ferns, 26 - mosses, 29 - lichens and 17 - mushrooms. The plants of the Red Book of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic require protection over all territory of the country.
140 out of 400 rare species of floraflora of Northwestern European Russia require urgent protective measures, 500 species of Nonchernozem zone, 375 species of Saratovskaya Oblast and 188 species of Krasnodrsy Kray are in danger.
Territories of the former USSR have more than 21 thousand species of flowers, about 2500 species are medicinal herbs. However only 200 of them are allowed for pharmaceutical purposes.
60 species of herbs are found in swamps of the European part of Russia; 12 species are included in the State Pharmacopoeia. Some plants and mushrooms are considered as foodstuffs. These species are various and found practically in all natural zones. Mushrooms, berries (cranberries, cowberries, bilberries, blueberries, cloudberries, wild strawberries, raspberries, etc.), damsons, Siberian pine nuts and birch sap are most perspective for commercial production.
Russian woods are rich in wild-growing fruits and berries, about 60 species of them are produced or gathered by people for personal consumption.
The total area of wild-growing fruit and berry plants (over 120 species) is about 65 millions hectares; average mid-annual biological yield is estimated as 6,9 millions tons, including the industrial yield of 2,5 millions tons. Cranberries and cowberries are the most important for production wild-growing plants of the state forest zone: total area is 19,9 millions hectares with biological yield of 1,4 millions tones, and industrial production is 0,6 millions tones.
Vegetation of the European part of Russia changes as climate, from northwestern to southeastern, the rest of the country has a wide climatic zoning. There are five basic vegetative zones - tundra, taiga, mixed woods zone, forest-steppe and steppe zone.
The most northern zone - tundra - occupies more than 1/10 part of Russian territory. Lichens, mosses, grasses and bushes prevail there. Permafrost is typical for the most parts of tundra areas. In some places it reaches 610 meters in depth.
Taiga is a kind of coniferous boreal woods, it is the next zone south from tundra. It occupies about 65% of Russian territory. Fur-trees and pine-trees predominate in the European part of the country, while larch-trees are most common in Siberia.
Mixed woods are widly spread south from taiga. Coniferous trees, birches, aspens, lindens and maples also grow in the western part of these woods. Aspens and birches are met in the east as well.
Deciduous woods of temperate zone are situated south from the mixed woods. Oaks, lindens and maple-trees dominate in the west and birches - in the east. The most part of woods of this territory are given to ploughed fields. To the south and southeast there is a zone of forest-steppes that reach the Ukraine border in the west and the Ob River in the east. Nowadays it is a well developed agricultural area.
Steppe occupies more droughty territories south from forest-steppes. Trees grow only in flood-lands. Soils of this region are ideal for grain-crops. Therefore, most part of them are planted by grain, wheat mostly.
Dry steppes gradually change into semi-deserts and deserts. The rivers dry out at summer here. Feather grasses, wormwoods, and saltworts are most common in this region.
Subtropics occupy a narrow Pre-Black Sea coast area protected from northeast by the Caucasian Ridge.