The most well known form of the territorial nature protection in Russia is nature reserves. There are very few analogues of our nature reserves in the world and their territories are much smaller.
State nature reserves are natural territories which are allotted to preserve typical or unique natural complexes in their natural state, to study the natural processes within them and to work out the scientific foundations of nature protection. The land, the water, the earth’s interior of the reserves territory are completely withdrawn from economic exploitation to full ownership of the state. On their territories any economic activity is banned if it is not for the reserve’s needs.
State nature reserves are nature protection scientific research and ecological education institutions. In the nature reserves of Russia “Chronicles of Nature” are being made. Within the framework of that programme all the events in the life of the protected nature and its animal and vegetation world are being fixed. The scientific information accumulated for the years of the reserves existence is unique and has no analogues abroad. Now this experience is transferred to the biospheric reserves of the world and to some national parks abroad. Nowadays the nature reserves protect 25 mammal species, 60 birds species, 5 reptiles species, 3 amphibian species of those included into the Russian Federation Red Book. Nature reserves play a great role in preserving rare plant species.
Biospheric reserves are those included in the international system. It is a global system of nature territories where the environment should be monitored by the unified methods, it is also the MAB Programme coordinated by the UNESCO, “Man and Biosphere” where Russia also takes part. Territories of biospheric testing grounds, including those with the differentiated special protection and functioning regimen, may be joined to the territories of state nature biospheric reserves to make scientific research and ecological monitoring as well as approval and introduction of rational nature utilization methods which do not destroy the natural environment and do not exhaust biological resources.
The main reserves objectives:
1. To protect the natural territories for preservation of their biological diversity and for keeping the protected natural complexes and objects in their natural state.
2. To organize and do scientific research including “Nature Chronicles” keeping.
3. To monitor the ecology within the state system of the environment monitoring.
4. Ecological education.
5. To take part in the state ecological expert examination of the programmes and schemes of economic and other objects arrangement.
6. To assist in preparing scientists and environment protection specialists (Article 7 of the Law on Specially Guarding Natural Territories).
There are 3 nature reserves in Buryatia. Two of them are biospheric ones, i.e. they are included by UNESCO in the world system of biospheric reserves.
The first nature reserve of Buryatia is the Barguzin biospheric nature reserve (the Severobaikalsk district of the Republic of Buryatia, it embraces the north-eastern coast of Lake Baikal and the western slopes of the Barguzin mountain range). It was organized in 1916 and is the oldest nature reserve of Russia. Its total area is 263, 176 hectares, 17, 083 hectares of them are rivers and lakes.
The Dzherginsky Natural Reserve
The foundation date: the Dzherginsky natural reserve was founded in 1992 instead of the state complex “Dzherginsky” game reserve which had existed since 1974 (the Russian Federation Council of Ministers Resolution # 585 “On Organizing the State “Dzherginsky” Natural Reserve of the Russian Federation Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources” (now the Russian Federation State Committee of Environmental Protection)).
The reserve is situated in the northern part of the Republic of Buryatia (the Kurumkan district) at the meeting point of three great mountain ranges – the Barguzin, the Ikat and the South-Muysky mountain ranges in the upper reaches of the Barguzin River. Its northern border goes along the administrative border between the Kurumkan and the Severobaikalsk districts, the eastern one goes along the administrative border between the Kurumkan and Baunt districts, the western border goes along the left bank of the Barguzin river and the southern one goes along the watershed range between the rivers of Dzhirga and Seya. The centre of the reserve is in the village of Maisky. The area of the reserve is 238.088 thousand hectares (19% of the Kurumkan district territory).
The objective of the reserve is to preserve the original state of the natural landscape complex in the North Zabaikalye and the North-Eastern Pribaikalye (the source of the Barguzin river and the Ikat mountain range), to study the course of natural processes and phenomena, the plants and animals genofond, to work out the scientific foundations of nature conservation.
More than 29 species of rare and endemic plants are discovered in the reserve, as well as 45 species of mammals (8 of them, rare ones, are in the Russian Federation Red Book, 29 are in the Republic of Buryatia Red Book), 108 species of birds, 18 species of fish and 3 species of amphibians.
The vegetation of the reserve located in three altitudinal belts (mountains and forest-steppes, mountains and taiga, alpine) is formed chiefly of taiga larches. Besides the altitudinal vegetation belts (mountain steppes, forests, sub-goltsy bushes and goltsy-altitudinal belts) meadows are typical of the river valleys together with sedge swamps and willows.
The fish fauna is represented by lake and river species (the grayling, the lenok, the taymen, the burbot, the pike, the sig and others).
The Dzherginsky natural reserve is famous for its reptiles. There are 6 species of them there. They include the Mongolian lizard, the grass-snake, the adder and others which are in the Red Book of Buryatia.
Now 201 species of vertebrate animals are registered in the reserve. The invertebrate animals’ fauna is especially numerous and now includes 839 species of insects (including the Barguzin cavity) and 164 species of spiders.
The birds’ fauna is most various compared to other classes of vertebrate animals. Now the habitat of 142 species is positively known, it makes up 40.3% of the total number of species in the northern part of Lake Baikal basin.
Now 29 species included in the Red Book of Buryatia live in the reserve: the oriental Apollo, the Siberian machaon, the taymen, the black stork (Ciconia nigra), the swan (Cygnus cygnus), the black mallard, the swallow, Aquila heliaca Savigny, the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), the bald eagle (Haliaetus albicilla), the gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus Linnaeus), Falco peregrinus (Tunstall), Falco subbuteo, the snowy owl (Nyctea scandiaca), the eagle-owl (Bubo bubo), the tawny owl (Strix uralensis), Plecotis auritus, the river otter (Lutra lutra), the reindeer (Rangifer tarrandus) and birds and animals of Bradypterus, Regulus, Certhia, Myotis and others. The red Book of Russia is represented there with 8 species: the davatchan (Salvelinus alpinus erythrinus), the black stork (Ciconia nigra), Aquila heliaca Savigny, the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaestos), the bald eagle (Haliaetus albicilla), the gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus Linnaeus), Falco peregrinus (Tunstall), the river otter (Lutra lutra); the bald eagle (Haliaetus albicilla) is included in the Red Book of IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (The World Conservation Union)).
In recent years some species have been hunted by poachers. As a result the number of badgers, musk-deer and Siberian roes has decreased very much or it is going down now.
The relic glacier Amut cavity can be named the heart of the reserve, where there are a lot of crystal clear lakes. The biggest lake is the Amut, the maximum temperature of which is only +6°С in summer. The lake-like expansions of the Barguzin River are also remarkable, Lake Balan-Tamur and Lake Churikto. The Balan-Tamur is a sacred lake, legends say that a great shaman used to live there and he gave water to the rivers of the Barguzin valley.
The Dzherginsky reserve is a complex of unique geologic and water objects, particular landscapes and habitats of rare or endangered animal and plant species.