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Entries / Landscapes


Categories / City Topography/Nature and Natural Phenomena

LANDSCAPES. The territory of St. Petersburg and its suburbs display an ample diversity though belonging to the north-west Taiga landscape province of the Russian Plain. There are 13 basic landscape types (or landscape regions). The Neva landscape, a flat plain with heights of up to 10-20 meters and encompassing a greater part of St. Petersburg. The Proterozoic and Cambrian bedding rocks are overlaid with Pleistocene deposits. The surface is formed predominantly of glaciolacustrine sandy loams and banded clay, and in the foreland - of Littorina Sea sediments, which in turn forms several low terrace levels. They shape the delta of the Neva River and its main island. In the East there are Koltushi Hills and the kames rides of Osinovaya Roshcha, Yukki, Pargolovo and Shuvalovo are located in the North. St. Petersburg stretches over the entire western part of the Neva Lowland, and its natural lands are exposed to intensive anthropogenic influence. Part of the land’s resources is occupied by agricultural allotments, residential communities, transport thruways etc. The forests are dominated by secondary birch woods, alder woods, and willow woods growing mainly on peat podzol and gley soil. The peaks of kames, beach ridges, and coastal dunes still have spots covered with pine woods growing on sandy iron podzol and bleached soil. The forests are included in the St. Petersburg Forest Park protection belt. Some of them were turned into forest parks (Nevsky, Primorsky, Shuvalovsky, Novo-Orlovsky). The territory outside Saint Petersburg is occupied by fields of suburban farms, cottage settlements, and resorts. Primorsky North Coast Park is constituted of high-level, well drained bank watersheds. It was formed by glaciolacustrian sands and washed moraines the watersheds alternate with troughs, protruding from the North-West to the South-East, swamped and filled lakes. The territory of the northern coast of the Gulf of Finland contains a narrow Littorina terrace with sandy spits and beach ridges, dune communities. Approximately 60% of the area is covered with forests, predominantly pine woods of different types. It is mostly low lacustrian terraces. The combination of the natural conditions is favourable for recreation activities. The foreland accommodates the majority of St. Petersburg's resort zone including numerous health centres. Vuoksa landscape is the lower central part of the Karelian Isthmus which cuts through the Vuoksa River. The surface is scarcely drained, constituted by sandy loam lacustrian and glaciolacustrian terrace deposits. Numerous lakes are interconnected with small distributaries often containing cataracts. The area is dominated by pine and pine-birch woods, often swamped. The land is agriculturally underdeveloped. However, it caters for optimal conditions for recreation, tourism, sports, especially water activities. Otradnensky landscape is located in the north-eastern part of the Karelian Isthmus and has quite a diversified relief dominated by high glaciolacustrian terraces mostly composed of sand. Kame hills, oz ridges, and washed moraines outcrop are common. The lows contain large lakes like the Lake Otradnenskoe. A larger part of the surface is covered with pine woods, dry and sometimes swamped. In terms of agriculture it is mostly the lower lacustrian terraces that are more developed than the rest of the territory. The landscape has a promising potential for recreation. Verkhneokhtinsky landscape is the highest central part of the Karelian Isthmus and the watershed of the rivers flowing into the Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga. A plateau-like plain reaching 205 meters in the height is broken by trough valleys along the northern fringe. Fir woods are common in the area, which also contains numerous small upland lakes. The territory has significance within the context of water protection. The Lembolovsky landscape is a height located in the centre of the Karelian Isthmus and is dominated by a hill-kame relief alternating with flat glaciolacustrian cavities, often filled with lakes. The area is covered with abundant pine and small-leaved forests. The arable allotments are scattered across the plain and flat slopes. The relief diversity, abundance of lakes and dry pine woods contribute to the development of the territory as a recreational resort. It accommodates quite a number of cottage settlements, garden farms, and rest homes. The Priladozhsky landscape is a flat, heavily swamped lowland adjoining to the south-western coast of Lake Ladoga. The relief is represented by ancient terraces of Lake Ladoga and a periglacial basin, its uniformity is disrupted by moraine and beach ridges which protrude along the western coast of Lake Ladoga. The forests are swamped and dominated by pines and small-leave trees; the territory contains large highland while the transition and lowland moors are almost completely abandoned in the southern part. The arable lands are concentrated in the South. There emerged a number of garden farms on the sites of the abandoned moors. The pre-Baltic Glint landscape is a lowland terraced plain between the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland and Baltic-Ladoga Glint (escarpment), constituted by marine, glacionlacustrian and glacial deposits. The eastern part elevating southwards and adjoining to St. Petersburg and the foreland are extensively developed. It accommodates the palace and park ensembles of Peterhof, Strelna, Oranienbaum and arable lands. The western part is inhabited with pine, small-leafed plants and fir woods and is swampy. The territory also contains numerous upland moors. The stretch along the coast of the Gulf of Finland is one of the most important recreational zones of St. Petersburg’s suburbs. Izhorsky landscape (Ordovician Plateau) is a 176 meter high hill with a plateau-like surface formed of Ordovician limestone covered with a thin bed glacial loam seam. Northwards the landscape is cut by high Baltic-Ladoga Glint. The structure contains karst landforms: craters, cavities, and dry valleys. Due to limestone fracture the surface, the hydrographic net is poorly marked. A large aquifer is formed in the rock mass bedding which feeds numerous water sources along the plateau fringes. The carbonate content of the parent rocks conditions the formation of saturated rendzina soil and its intensive development of the territory. The ancient broad-leaf fir woods had been almost entirely cut clear or replaced with secondary birch and asp woods partly alternating with broad-leaf tree species. The landscape is St. Petersburg suburbs’ major agricultural area, also supplying construction material such as limestone and dolomite. Luzhsko-Oredezhsky landscape is a lowland moraine swamped plain of the Izhora River southern valley with moraine hill clusters and glaciolacustrian lows. The territory is dominated by secondary small-leaf, often swamped forests. It also contains numerous watershed moors. The northern part 15-20 kilometres away from St. Petersburg is mostly developed and has considerable recreational significance (Pavlovsk parks). The Tosnensko-Volkhovsky landscape is a vast, flat, weakly drained plain south-eastward from St. Petersburg. The surface is composed of glaciolacustrian band loam. The area is dominated by small-leaf forests, often swamped and with inclusions of lime, maple and other broad-leaf species. The watershed zone has large moors, subject to water the protection policy. The arable lands are concentrated mostly in areas well drained by rivers. Mginsky landscape stretches over the Mga River basin. The communities of kame and moraine hills alternate with swamped lows constituted of glaciolacustrian sands and sand loam. There are still remnant areas of pine woods in the surroundings. The territory has both recreational and agricultural significance; it accommodates numerous garden farms. Putilovsky landscape is the lowered surface of the Ordovician Plateau formed of limestone and drift clay, and slightly sloping southwards. In the North it is separated from Priladozhsky landscape by the bench of Baltic-Ladoga Glint. The land strip adjoining to the bench is intensively developed. A vast majority of the territory is dominated by asp and birch woods and large almost completely exhausted upland moors. The city territory is, in turn, dominated by anthropogenic landscapes, heavily changed by human activities like parks, gardens, palace and park complexes as well as agricultural land in the suburbs.

References: Исаченко А. Г., Дашкевич З. В., Карнаухова Е. В. Физико-географическое районирование Северо-Запада СССР. Л., 1965; Исаченко А. Г. Экологическая география Северо-Запада России: В 2 ч. СПб., 1995; Исаченко Г. А. "Окно в Европу": История и ландшафты. СПб., 1998.

Y. P. Seliverstov.