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Agroecological indices to steppe agrarian landscape structure optimization

Within the frames of RF fundamental research priority directionsthe authors developed agroecological indices for spatial optimization of plough lands and forest amelioration in steppe zone. We consider that the steppe biome of the Earth is a critical point of the biosphere; steppe ecosystems are still very vulnerable. The main threat for steppes is still extensive dry crop farming, negative influence by that is expected to be supplemented by new loop of extensive afforestation. The change proposed to the RF forest code makes woodiness of a region the key index of forest management effectiveness. “Compensation” forests planting is planned within the change so that the square of any cut forest is compensated with the same square of a new forest culture. Essentially, “inviolable” plough land is to be supplemented by “inviolable”  forest cultures, which will tend to spatial expansion at the cost of steppes and long fallow lands. The tragic example of last steppe ecosystems total afforestation is already known from Belgorodskaya oblast.

The agrarian landscape integral indices developed to promote steppe ecosystems conservation, restoration and management based on land kinds equality is in this regard especially topical. Based on the convergence of achievements of geography, steppe and soil sciences, agrarian and forestry sciences, the authors developed base agroecological indices for evaluation of plough lands and forest amelioration that are proposed as instruments to improve steppe agrarian landscape territory structure and face modern challenges.

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