Agriculture and land use in the North of Russia: Case study of Karelia and Yakutia
Despite harsh climate, agriculture on the northern margins of Russia still remains the backbone of food security. Historically, in both regions studied in this article – the Republic of Karelia and the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) – agricultural activities as dairy farming and even cropping were well adapted to local conditions including traditional activities such as horse breeding typical for Yakutia. Using three different sources of information – official statistics, expert interviews, and field observations – allowed us to draw a conclusion that there are both similarities and differences in agricultural development and land use of these two studied regions. The differences arise from agro-climate conditions, settlement history, specialization, and spatial pattern of economy. In both regions, farming is concentrated within the areas with most suitable natural conditions. Yet, even there, agricultural land use is shrinking, especially in Karelia. Both regions are prone to being affected by seasonality, but vary in the degree of its influence. Geographical location plays special role, and weaknesses caused by remoteness to some extent become advantage as in Yakutia. Proximity effect is controversial. In Karelia, impact of neighboring Finland is insignificant compared with the nearby second Russian city – Saint Petersburg.