Forests, Climate, and the Rise of Scientific Forestry in Russia: From Local Knowledge and Natural History to Modern Experiments (1840s - early 1890s)
The article examines an episode in the history of nineteenth-century agricultural improvement, the attempt to change the climate of Russia’s southern steppe provinces by planting forests. The afforestation efforts carried out in the Velikii Anadol’ forestry district in the eastern Ukraine were closely interwoven with debates about the potential climatic impact of deforestation – debates that were waged across Europe from the eighteenth century onwards and that are often considered by historians as crucial for the emergence of modern environmental consciousness. This chapter focuses on the changing character of experiments and observations carried out in Velikii Anadol’, and analyzes the ways in which they reflect a broader transformation of evidentiary standards in the nineteenth-century life sciences. It also explores the ways in which different scientific agendas were applied in the Russian frontier as part of attempts at agricultural colonization.