Russian forests have been sold in an internet auction for the first time.

Nine plots of wood in the Kaluzhsky region 250km southwest of Moscow were sold in the auction organised by the Ministry for Protection of the Environment and Natural Resources of Russia.

Potential buyers received a password and a registration number to take part in the sale. About 1,600 hits were reported from Russia, some 400 from Ukraine and more than 100 from Israel.

The ministry hopes the auction is the first step towards an electronic stock exchange for wood, which it believes will improve forestry management.