Steppe lands in the NIS have been intensively exploited for agriculture with consequent losses of biodiversity. In the Russian Federation for example, steppe land protected areas constitute only some 0.4% of the protected areas estate. Up to 20 % of the tundra zone lands demonstrate pasture degradation as a result of domesticated reindeer grazing. The share of arable land varies from 35 to 80 % of the total steppe area, with black soils being ploughed almost completely. The humus content in steppe soils has decreased by 1.5 - 2.0 times over the last one hundred years. Considerable areas of the zone are eroded, salinated and flooded. Russian dry steppes and semi-deserts have been dramatically transformed into devastated pastures which were vulnerable to wind erosion, substitution of aboriginal vegetation, and massive loss of cattle in the 1980s.