Victor von Graff, He planted the forest
It took over 20 years for the forest man Victor von Graff (1820-1867) to make a part of the burnt-over Donetsk step into a thick forest. Thank to that person Donetsk region has a unique man-made forest that is the largest in the world (more than 2,500 hectares). Velikoanadolsky forest is located in Volnovakhsky rayon of Donetsk region. This is “green lungs” of Donetsk region. In 1843 Von Graff started to plant trees being a young man. He was born in Volyn’(at the North-West of Ukraine). His farther was German and his mother was Italian, but Victor von Graff called himself a Ukrainian Cossack.
After graduating from St. Petersburg Forest Institute, he was employed as an assistant of the forest man in Yekaterinoslaskaya province (at present Donetsk region). His fist task was to explore the territory and identify a site to plant the forest. And he selected the driest Velikoanadolskaya wasteland.
Von Graff collected tree-seeds from local villages and planted them with his assistants. Then he protected young plants from hares and locusts. Bu the territory was dry and young plants died from hot winds. And Victor Von Graff planted trees again and again, selecting species of trees that could survive in hot step. They were oaks, maples, ash trees, lindens and pine-trees… Today more than 600 spices of plants can be found in Velikoanadolsky forest, and 37 of them are protected by law.
Victor Von Graff opened an observatory and school for forest men in the forestry. He had to work with no days off and suffered from big troubles in order to raise the forest. It is said that when Victor Von Graff was leaving for Moscow (Russia) in response to invitation, he gave warm embraces to his trees as if they were his close friends.