Great Plan for the Transformation of Nature

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The Great 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 catch phrase was great transformation of nature (Russian: Великое преобразование природы).[1] Styled in the traditions of Stalin's personality cult, it referred to 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[edit]

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

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

The government launched a number of extensive projects in land improvement, hydroengineering for water control, irrigation and power, and in supporting areas. Planned to be carried out until 1965, the projects were mostly abandoned after the death of Stalin. During the years of destalinization, his critics attacked the projects, chiefly because they were under the control of now discredited agronomist Trofim Lysenko. Despite their 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 twentieth century. The practices of planting appropriate crops, grasses and trees, for instance, is considered 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[edit]