Included here is the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian far east. It lies between the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Sea of Okhotsk to the west. Temperate forest is confined to southern or oceanic areas and these give way to boreal forest in the north.

Kamchatkan Betula ermani Stone Birch Forest

These birch forests dominated by the near endemic Betula ermani (Betulaceae) occupy large areas of southern Kamchatka and the middle Kurile Islands (Iturup and Urup), and usually occupy a zone between the alluvial meadows and the Alnus belt. They also occur in the valleys adjacent to the Pacific but do not reach the cold shores of the Ochotsk Sea. The stands are relatively open giving the impression of parkland. This partly relates to the fact that these trees will not germinate in deep shade and unlike the birches of America and Europe this species has more or less horizontal branches reminiscent of oak trees. They consequently cause much more shady conditions beneath their bows. Their height can reach up to 16 m. The tall groundcover associated with these forests also makes it difficult for trees to germinate. Most of these forest are thought to be extremely ancient possibly dating back to the late Tertiary Period. The undergrowth normally includes a shrub layer with species such as Sorbus sambucifolium, up to three field layers and a ground layer. Upper layer species include the endemic Lonicera kamstchatica (Caprifoliaceae) and Pleurospermum camtschaticum (Apiaceae). Middle layer species include Pedicularis resupinata, Saussurea oxyodonta, several orchids like Coeloglossum viride subsp. bracteatum and Dactylorhiza aristata. Lower layer species include Anemone coerulea, Lycopodium annotinum, and the orchid Cypripedium guttatum subsp. yatabeamum, while the ground layer is mainly composed of bryophytes.

Kamchatkan Beringian (Pinus pumila) Woodland

These woodlands mainly dominated by the dwarf pine Pinus pumila are largely confined to oceanic and sub oceanic areas close to the Bering Sea, and can be found, for example, along much of the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Anadyr and Penzhina river basins in the Koriakskiy Mountains, on the Cammander Islands and on the northern Kurile Islands. Other associated trees and shrubs may include Alnus fruticosa and Larix dahurica. The canopy height varies from about 3 m in the lowlands down to about 40 cm at the altitudinal limit. This is about 1400 m and represents the timberline for much of this area. On the other hand, a number of the upland forests in Kamchatka suffer from the affects of volcanic eruptions and as a result are in a permanent state of restoration. The associated undergrowth is varied but may include several interesting species such as Agrostis kudoi, Anemone sibirica, Aster sibiricus, Empetrum sibirica, Pedicularis labradorica, Potentilla vulcanicola, Trisetum sibiricum and the endemic Allium ochotense (Alliaceae), Atragene ochotensis (Ranunculaceae), Oxytropis erecta (Fabaceae) and Poa schumushuensis (Poaceae).


Hulten, E. 1971. The plant cover of southern Kamchatka. Arkiv för botanik, 7: 181- 257.

Khomentovsky, P. A. 2004. Ecology of the Siberian Dwarf Pine (Pinus pumila Pallas Regel) on Kamchatka (General Survey). Science Publishers, Inc.

Knystautas, A. 1987. The Natural History of the USSR. Century Hutchinson Ltd.

Kolbek, J., Srutek, M. & Box, E. O. 2003. Forest Vegetation in Northeast Asia. Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Takahashi, K., Homma, K., Vetrova, V. P., Florenzev, S. & Hara, T. 2001. Stand structure and regeneration in a Kamchatka mixed boreal forest. Journal of Vegetation Science, 12: 627-634.