Against the background of current debates on environmental change and permafrost degradation in the (Sub-)Arctic, this article looks into the agricultural history of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), one of the federal subjects in the Far East of Russia. In particular, the authors examine the development of land improvement (or land amelioration, melioratsiia) in the republic's central part during the Soviet period. The region is often described as unique, owing to its cattle and horse pastoralism along with crop cultivation under conditions of an extremely cold and generally dry climate. Relying mainly on documents retrieved from regional archives, the paper starts with an explication of the categories used by melioratsiia experts themselves, which permits an understanding of the management, success stories, and failures of land-improvement techniques. Notwithstanding scientific recommendations on land engineering in permafrost regions, documents from the 1980s reported increasing problems with maintenance of irrigation systems along with permafrost degradation and soil subsidence. The conclusion of the article offers a potential explanation for the neglect of research on agricultural land improvement in social sciences' and environmental sciences' research on northern, subarctic regions of Russia.



Habeck, J.O. and A.I. Yakovlev






Northeast Asian Studies / Tohoku Ajia kenkyu



Habeck, Joachim Otto & Aital Igorevich Yakovlev 2019. "Land improvement under conditions of permafrost: melioratsiia and intended forms of environmental change in Soviet Yakutia". Northeast Asian Studies / Tohoku Ajia kenkyu, 23: 71-92. http://hdl.handle.net/10097/00125902 (accessed 20 April 2020).



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