Nature game reserves are territories having a special meaning for preservation or restoration of nature complexes and for keeping up ecological balance (Article 22 of the Law on Specially Guarding Natural Territories). Game reserves can be either of federal or of regional significance.
Game reserves as natural territories with partially or completely banned man economic activity have been known since ancient times. From the Kievan Rus times to the early 20th century the game reserves used to be the hunting territories of princes ans big landlords. In the late 19th century game reserves started serving the interests of the whole society, but not single persons. In early 20th century game reserves were organized with the aim of nature resources rational utilization, first of all the game fauna. Afterwards the game reserves activity expanded considerably. In recent years the game reserves have acquired a new function, the nature protection function.
The main objectives of game reserves are to provide the protection and reproduction of the animal world valuable objects, including the rare and endangered species, to preserve their natural habitats and to support the ecological balance in the nature communities. Besides, the objectives are to do registration work, monitoring, phenological observations and ecological education activity.
On the territories of nature reserves all kinds of hunting, commercial fishing, destroying or damaging nests, dens and other wild animals habitations and shelters, irrigation work, geological prospecting, deposits development and mineral mining, territory littering with wastes, litter or oil products are banned. Biotechnical, reproductive, protective, fire-preventive and forestation activities as well as the animal world objects registration work are obligatory. Economic utilization of the rest of nature resources is allowed in such a from which does not damage the protected object or complex. Nowadays game reserves are an effective form of nature protection and they have very broad development prospects.
The game reserves are of different types, such as:
- complex ones (landscape) to preserve and restore the natural complexes;
- biological ones (botanical and zoological) to preserve and restore the rare and endangered plant and animal species;
- paleontological ones to preserve the fossil objects;
- hydrological ones (marshes, lakes, rivers, seas) to preserve and restore valuable water objects and ecosystems;
- geological ones to preserve the valuable objects and complexes of inorganic nature (Article 22 of the Law on Specially Guarding Natural Territories).
Nowadays there are 70 confirmed state natural game reserves of federal significance.
In Buryatia there are 20 game reserves, including 3 reserves of federal significance (“Altacheisky”, “Kabansky”, “Frolikhinsky”), 18 reserves of regional significance. The total area of the game reserves is 1,050.3 thousand hectares. Most of them are complex game reserves.