The first systematic attempt to stop the Low Dnieper shifting sands was made by foresters. The result of almost a century's struggle against the sandy desert was the small area of plantings, vineyards and trees. Almost 100 % of pine plantations established at that time were died due to the soil moisture deficit and pest damage. The combined expedition including ecologists, soil scientists, botanists, entomologists, plant pathologists, agronomists and foresters was working for two years and provided a number of recommendations, one of which was the need for a permanent presence of scientists in the region.
The aim of the study was to highlight theoretical and practical issues that scientists had to address during the 90-year period of the existence of the State Enterprise “Steppe Branch of Ukrainian Research Institute of Forestry and Forest Melioration” in the field of afforestation of the Low Dnieper sand massifs.
Materials and methods
Originals of forestry research reports from 1956, publications and other sources have been used.
The research station was established with the aim to conduct scientific research in the field of steppe forestry in the following areas:
- protective forestry;
- complex development of Low Dnieper sands;
- forests in the coastal zone of the Black and Azov Seas;
- improvement of hunting economy;
- organization of ecological monitoring of forests.
In the early years of the station, A. V. Topchevsky, the first director, made conclusions about previous unsuccessful attempts to afforest the sands, namely: most species did not meet the conditions of natural and historical growth; the ways of creating forest plantations did not differ from those commonly used in the forest zone; no deep research on forest afforestation was conducted. In the pre-war period, the research was aimed at species range selection and development of sand fixing and afforestation methods as well as at the investigation of best agricultural practices for the creation of forest plantations.
For the period from 1927 to 1953, the scientists of the research station had summarized the experience of more than one hundred years of sands afforestation and done numerous experiments on species selection, agricultural techniques of soil preparation, application of fertilizers and herbal mixtures; the study of hydrological conditions in sand arenas had been started at that time. In 1953–1971, the research station was headed by V. M. Vinogradov. During this period, the activity of the scientists of the research station was aimed at the development of theoretical foundations of forest management in the sandy arenas of Low Dnieper. Then, the priorities in scientific research were given to the scientific substantiation of measures aimed at increasing the stability and productivity of pine stands.
In 1993, as a part of the Steppe Branch of URIFFM, the first in the territory of the former Soviet Union scientific research hunting economy “Nizhnedneprovskoe” was established on the area of 12,657 hectares as a research test site for hunting. Economic hardships in the state and poor financing of the forest sector have negatively affected the work of the company in recent years.
Over the years of existence of the state enterprise, a huge amount of research work has been completed, which became the components of the theoretical substantiation of forest management in the Low Dnieper sands and their complex development. At this stage, a justification of the degree of afforestation of individual sand arenas is necessary from a hydrological point of view.
2 Figs., 11 Refs.