zaterdag 20 juli 2013

Russia, Virgin Komi Forests

The Virgin Komi Forests cover 3.28 million ha of tundra and mountain tundra in the Urals, as well as one of the most extensive areas of virgin boreal forest remaining in Europe. This vast area of conifers, aspens, birches, peat bogs, rivers and natural lakes has been monitored and studied for over 50 years. It provides valuable evidence of the natural processes affecting biodiversity in the taiga.

Located in the north-western region of the Komi Republic, on the western slopes of the Northern Urals, the Komi Forest is dominated by lowlands in the west that rise to form the mountains in the east.
The eastern area of the forest is dominated by the Northern Ural mountains, which are oriented in a north-south direction. They are characterized by mountain-glacier formations, of which the southernmost glaciers occur within the Telpossky massif. The dissolution of limestone along the foothills has formed a karst landscape with subterranean caves, craters and river beds that are seasonally flooded. Weathering in the Ilych, Podcherema, Shchugora and Bolshaya Syn basins has given rise to columns and residual mountain structures. These are protected as Natural Monuments. Many of these features are remnant reef structures, the oldest of which date back to the Ordovician period. The undulating terrain to the west comprises marshes, lowlands and several hills which also give way to mountains. The eastern mountainous and western lowland regions are linked by the Uniya and upper reaches of the Ilych river basins. The south-central part of the Pechoro-Ilychsky Reserve lies on the Pripechova lowlands, a plain of sand and morainic loam at the foot of the North Urals.
The vegetation of the lowlands comprises marshes and flood plain islands. Boreal forest extends from the marshes to the foothills of the Urals and is superseded by subalpine scrub woodlands, meadows, tundra and bedrock. Boreal forest predominantly comprises pine and larch, the latter found in higher areas. Ground cover consists of cowberry, bilberry and reindeer mosses. Extensive spruce, fir and pine forests are found in the valleys. The Virgin Komi Forests is the only place in Europe where the Siberian pine grows.
The area to the west comprises marshes and flood-plain islands. Low-altitude wetter areas such as bogs support sphagnum moss with cranberry, bilberry and cloudberry. The flood-plain island terraces are dominated by willow, rowan, blackcurrant and bird cherry.
The fauna includes both European and Asiatic species with some 43 mammal, 204 bird and 16 fish species recorded. Threatened mammal species include wolf, otter, beaver, sable, wolverine and lynx. Mammals include hare, squirrel, flying squirrel, beaver (reintroduced), grey wolf, fox, brown bear, weasel, otter, pine marten, sable, wolverine, lynx and elk. Musk rat has been introduced to the area. Bird species include capercaillie, black grouse, willow grouse, hazel grouse, black woodpecker, three-toed woodpecker, nutcracker and red-flanked bluetail. A number of waterfowl species, including golden eye, goosander, wigeon, teal and bean goose, breed in the area. Fish species include salmon, grayling and whitefish and almost all rivers in the designated site provide salmon spawning grounds
Prior to Russians settling in the area during the 17th century, the residents included the Pechera and Zyriane groups of the Komi people, the Ostiaki group of the Khanty people and the Voguly group of the Mansi people, of which the latter group were driven out of the Urals. The 10th- and 11th-century chronicles name the Chiud, Merya, Ves and Pechera peoples as the main inhabitants. The hills of this region have traces of Palaeolithic camp sites and fossil remains and an ancient sanctuary of the Mansi people has also been found. Present settlements within the Uniya basin include those of the Komi people and the Old Believers, a religious sect that was proscribed by the Russian authorities in the 17th century.

Historical Description

Pechoro-Ilychsky Nature Reserve was established by RSFSR Soviet of People's Commissars Decree on 4 May 1930 and was accepted as a biosphere reserve under the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme in 1984. Russian Federation Decree No. 377 of23 April 1994 established Yugyd Va National Park under the Federal Forestry Service of Russia in the Komi Republic.
There are 17 reservations but there is insufficient data to precisely describe their establishment. No definition of the term 'reservation' is given. Salbia and Vangeriusky Reservations were both established according to the Komi Council of Ministers Decree No.90 on 29 March 1984. Kharota-Jagineisky, Maldynsky, Shchugorsky, Niart-Siuiu, Vode-Shor, Kozhim, Podchermsky, Syninskyand Bolshesyninsky reservations were all established by the Komi Council of Ministers Decree No .193 on 26 September 1989. There are 33 nature monuments and three state forestry farms, the latter are owned by the Forestry Department and could be used for wood production.
Pechoro Ilychsky Nature Reserve, ButTerzone and Yugyd-Va National Park were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1995.

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