Russia is home, especially in Siberia, to very large expanses of intact land, where the vegetation develops spontaneously, except for the damage caused by atmospheric pollution and by crossing roads, electricity or gas pipelines. In the western section of the Russian territory, the succession of the various soil and vegetable belts, from S to N. On the Arctic facade there is the tundra, with the thin moss coverings, to the rainfall regime, soils and climate in general. and lichens – seasonal pasture for reindeer – which is succeeded by the forest belt (the taiga ) of pines, firs and birches, widespread on gray soils, or podsol, and further to the S the wider area of the mixed deciduous and coniferous forest. In the area comprising the heights of the Volga there is then the strip of prairies, of the steppes on black soils, or černozëm, activated by the spring and summer rains and therefore excellent for cereal cultivation. The lands bordering the Caspian and Black Seas, although arid and in some areas even desert, on the whole have a climate that allows the existence of subtropical, Mediterranean species. Most of the Siberian area falls under the domain of the boreal forest of conifers, mainly of the genus Picea, and birches (the taiga), which in marshy and mountainous areas takes on particular adaptations.
The forest slopes northwards, gradually giving way to the tundra of mosses and lichens (but beyond the Arctic Circle the land is frozen for nine months of the year). This zonal succession, which varies locally according to altitude, is found throughout the Siberian front; however, in the southernmost belt, in the areas that join the Kazakh steppes, in the Angara valley, around Lake Baikal, in the Amur valley and on the Pacific coast, it receives temperate influences that make the appearance of broad-leaved trees possible. Percentage modest (7.5%) of the immense surface of the country is the area under cultivation, mostly arable (cereals and potatoes). Given the vastness of the territories that are little or not at all anthropized (especially in eastern Siberia), the fauna is still very rich, which includes all the species typical of the arctic, subarctic and temperate regions, including large mammals such as bears, moose and tigers of the snows. However, there are numerous environmental threats affecting the territory of Russia. Pollution (pesticides and chemical fertilizers) of the soil and aquifers and soil erosion in areas with intense agricultural activity; dispersion into the atmosphere of toxic dusts and vapors around industrial areas, especially in the Ural region; acid rain on the woods downwind of the same areas; deforestation of large wooded areas, intentional or due to the inability to prevent or control large fires; presence of numerous, scattered areas of radioactive contamination at times very intense, on the ground or in inland waters or even in the sea, due to accidents to plants or clumsy abandonment of residues and waste; bad management of landfills and waste disposal plants; surface pollution of the soil from hydrocarbons, often very serious, in oil extraction areas and along the thousands of kilometers of oil pipelines.
On the other hand, such a threatening situation has generated, especially in the late Eighties and early Nineties of the last century (also on the emotional wave aroused by the Chernobyl tragedy in April 1986), a strong growth of ecological sentiments among the population, and therefore the birth of many environmental groups, especially at the local level; even the authorities have had to take these widespread sentiments into account, albeit often insufficiently or even only superficially. The country has a fairly dense network of national parks (35), distributed mainly in European regions, and scientific nature reserves ( zapovedniki), distributed throughout the territory, from the Arctic to the Caucasus and from the Baltic to the Pacific (8.8%), to which are added many protected areas at the level of local administrations.