Great Plan for the Transformation of Nature

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The Great Plan for the Transformation of Nature, also known as Stalin's plan for the transformation of nature, was proposed by Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union in the second half of the 1940s, for land development, agricultural practices and water projects to improve agriculture in the nation. Its propaganda motto and catchphrase was “the great transformation of nature” (великое преобразование природы, velikoye preobrazovaniye prirody).[1]

The plan was outlined in the Decree of the USSR Council of Ministers and All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) Central Committee of October 20, 1948: "On the plan for planting of shelterbelts, introduction of grassland crop rotation and construction of ponds and reservoirs to ensure high crop yields in steppe and forest-steppe areas of the European USSR." It was a response to the widespread 1946 drought and subsequent 1947 famine, which led to estimated deaths of 500,000–1 million people.[2]

Major projects

A network of irrigation canals was built in the steppe belt of the southern Soviet Union, and in the deserts of Central Asia.

A project was proposed to plant trees in a gigantic network of shelterbelts (лесополоса, lesopolosa, "forest strip") across the steppes of the southern Soviet Union, similar to what had been done in the northern plains of the United States in the 1930s following drought and the extensive damage of the Dust Bowl years.[3]

The Soviet government launched a number of extensive projects in land improvement, hydroengineering for water control, irrigation and power, and in supporting areas. Planned for completion in 1965, the projects were mostly abandoned after the death of Stalin in 1953. During the years of de-Stalinization, critics of Stalin attacked the projects, chiefly because they were under the control of now-discredited agronomist Trofim Lysenko. Despite drawbacks in planning and implementation, the projects were based on ecological principles of developing natural environments that supported agriculture, which have been revived since the late 20th century. The practices of planting appropriate crops, grasses and trees, for instance, is considered[by whom?] the best way to reduce soil erosion in dry areas rather than trying to impose practices from areas with more rain.[2]

The project diverted the rivers that fed into the Aral Sea, thus contributing to its disappearance.[4]

See also


  1. "Introduction in Geoecology", A. A. Chibilyov, 1988, ISBN 5-7691-0783-9, Yekaterinburg: Institute of Steppe, Ural Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences. (Russian) Archived March 27, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  2. 2.0 2.1 "National Shelterbelt": To 60th anniversary of Stalin's plan of the transformation of nature
  3. "Russia and the Soviet Union", in Shepard Krech, J. R. McNeill, Carolyn Merchant, Encyclopedia of World Environmental History. Routledge, 2004. ISBN 0-415-93733-7. p. 1077
  4. Compare: "Soviet cotton threatens a region's sea – and its children". New Scientist. 1989-11-18. Retrieved 2015-07-16. The Aral Sea is in danger of drying out precisely because its feeder-rivers, the Amu-Darya and Syr-Darya are being depleted to irrigate the cotton belt of the Soviet south.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>