St. Paul, Minn. – Siberian foresters think so. Four foresters from the Russian Far East will visit Minnesota April 30 – May 4 to find out if forestry practices in Minnesota provide a key to the tiger’s survival. On a field tour sponsored by the US Agency for International Development and assisted by the USDA Forest Service, foresters will observe the successful regeneration of eastern white pine in Minnesota and hopefully use the same techniques to increase the numbers of native Korean pine in Siberia. The seed of the Korean pine is an important food source to wild boars and other species of prey found in the food chain of the Siberian tiger.
The forests of the Russian Far East have a lot in common with the forests of Minnesota. In fact, other than the tiger and the even more rare Amur leopard, the trees, plants and wildlife of Siberia closely resemble those found in the Midwest. Located at the latitude of southern Minnesota, the region features the climate of Minnesota and the more mountainous topography of New England.
Logged for lumber and fuel in the early 1900’s, only scattered remnants of the native Korean pine remain in Siberia. With so few trees left as a seed source, the pine is not re-establishing itself.
Minnesota faces a similar problem. Native eastern white pine populations were reduced after the harvests of the late 1800’s. Deer grazing, changing land-use patterns, and the white pine blister rust disease challenge today’s foresters who want to return this tree to prominence. In 1996, the Minnesota legislature invested in the White Pine Initiative, an effort led by the Forest Resources Council, designed to improve the regeneration success of eastern white pine in Minnesota. This tour showcases the successful efforts to restore eastern white pine populations.
"We are fortunate in our country to have the financial resources to look at problems like white pine regeneration and wildlife habitat. We hope these foresters can use the information we are gaining and apply it back in their own country. At the same time, we expect to learn about their successes with native tree and plant populations." said Ron Overton, Regeneration Specialist for the USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry. Field tours like these are an important way scientists exchange information and assist each other in problem solving.
We hope this tour makes a difference in the survival of the Siberian tiger.
The above story is based on materials provided by North Central Research Station. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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