(REVISED) It usually is common sense to believe that any crops would just die within Siberian soil. But I just thought about creating genetically modified crops which are adapted to boreal, permafrost climates, basically adapted to shallower grounds. Roots are shorter but more numerous, resulting in more numerous but smaller products: enter image description here

Another commonly encountered problem is the infamous acidic podsol, which is not-so good for agriculture, I had the idea that just like in the Pleistocene park, a created ecosystem could sustain agriculture there by introducing herbivores which would alter the ecosystem in order to make the landscape a grassland or forest-steppe by grazing.

I am thinking how it would be feasible like how such a process could be done in order to create an entirely new and productive ecosystem. How could we do that?

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    $\begingroup$ "plants which warms the body of humans and animals" – this is what firewood is $\endgroup$
    – wokopa
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 16:39
  • $\begingroup$ By far the main problem is that Russia does not have anywhere near enough people to populate its immense territory. If they had enough people they could begin with the low-lying fruit and start by colonizing the European part of Russia. The conditions are a hundred times better than in Siberia, there is a lot of land available (4,000,000 square km, 95% of the area of the European Union), it is very sparsely populated (28 people per square km compared to 106 in the E.U.), a lot of it is arable land (easily more than three times as much arable land as the entire E.U.)... $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Feb 15, 2023 at 22:17

2 Answers 2


Possible? Yes. Feasible...probably not. First, note that the Taiga regions of Earth are colonized, and settlements have been able to sustain themselves for millennia. It appears that you are asking about expanding the colonization to create far larger settlements, though. I can only speak with reasonable confidence about Northern Canada, so I'm not sure if this is universally true, but:

The first issue that must be solved is...bugs. The bug seasons are absolutely insane in the North, to the point that some (non permafrost) regions of Canada are reasonable for agriculture and other settlement are basically not used for that because the bugs are intolerable. You will need a way to figure out how to avoid the influx of bugs in the spring for larger settlements without just killing all of the bugs, since they form an important part of the food chain up there.

The next issue is infrastructure. One of the issues with getting so far up North is the near complete lack of roads leading there. It's easier to fly than to drive to some towns, but that means that if you want a mass migration of people you're either going to need thousands upon thousands of flights (and associated air infrastructure) or lots of road building. That is not a trivial thing, and roads built in regions with considerable seasonal weather is hugely difficult. Interestingly, this would mean that there would be lots of jobs available, but most of them might be road maintenance!

Then you have to deal with agriculture. Up North the growing season is exceptionally short and the winters are very harsh. You would need an agricultural community based around super fast growing, high yield plants. I am not aware of any such plants.

The "obvious" answer here is to use greenhouses, but then you come up against at least two problems: first, the winters are extremely harsh, so you would need some form of greenhouse that is not only insulated but also able to withstand huge freeze/thaw cycles. That would mean you'd need a large space inside and artificial lighting, which brings us to problem 2: energy. Without the infrastructure in place, good sources of high energy density like nuclear would be very, very difficult to build. Plus there's that damn winter problem again! You'd need a maintainable nuclear plant that can sustain a settlement throughout many winters.

Ultimately, I can see a technological way of colonizing the North, but it would be a giant money sink. The question you'd have to answer is: why are you going? If the reasons for the colonization outweigh the immense cost of fixing the challenges, then sure.

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    $\begingroup$ Could be worse, could be trying to colonize Mars… $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 22:18
  • $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime exactly why we don't have space colonies and won't in the near future. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 22, 2023 at 0:36

Before our current taiga epoch started, most of Siberia was actually covered by "mammoth steppes" - arid land covered by cereal-bearing grasses pasture where mammoths, wooly rhinos and their ilk lived. Only later on the megafauna gave way and let the forests and swamps take their place.

Russians (and other inhabitants of these lands such as Yakuts) also grow a variety of crops in Siberia, such as hard wheat and rye. There's no economic neccesity right now, since you can grow crops much cheaper elsewhere, but it is certainly possible if you are ready to pay for it.

  • $\begingroup$ Interesting, I have heard and read about the Mammoth steppes being fertile lands. Although Russia will probably start with the European part, in my story, my country spans Siberia, Tibet, all of Mongol lands and Manchuria. Besides the last one, such land would possibly be more economically challenging. But the ideal in my world would be a population boom in the middle of Siberia and its eastern (and northern) coasts after the people living there would be engineered to bear the cold better than us. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 8:02
  • $\begingroup$ In the middle of Siberia there is a city of Yakutsk, pop 350k. How much of a boom are we talking about? $\endgroup$
    – alamar
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 9:16
  • $\begingroup$ Well the total population of Siberia rises up to 400 million. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 22:18
  • $\begingroup$ At this point you are probably using some kind of vertical farming / domed cities and not caring about soil agriculture. $\endgroup$
    – alamar
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 23:51
  • $\begingroup$ what is the reason soil agriculture is not possible for such a population? Could I lower it? I don't want to put my people in domes to be honest. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 17, 2023 at 5:56

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