Excerpts from the history
Routes of many scientific expeditions were laid down in due time through the area where the Baikalsky reserve is now located. In 1835 n. Turchaninov studied flora of this area. In 1877 I. Chersky examined the relief and geological structure here. In 1901 A. Fadeev collected herbarium in the Pereiomnaya river area, and in 1929 the expedition of academician V. Sukachiov worked close to Tankhoi station. Roughly at the same time the geological expedition of the academician V. Obruchev worked at Khamar-Daban. Later the botanical studies of the expedition of the Irkutsk State University and the Academy of Sciences of the USSR leaded by professors V. Smirnov and M. Popov were carried out here. Fauna of the terrestrial vertebrates was studied staring the 1930s by a. Fetisov, I. Lavrov, T. Gagina, G. Borovitzkaya and I. Izmailov. All the studies listed for the most part covered the wide territory remotely distanced over the modem boundaries of the reserve. The outcomes of these studies are reflected in major treatises and particular articles, but as a rule there is too less concrete information on the reserve area in them.
The idea of a natural reserve establishment eventuated in early 1950s among scientists îñcu- pied with natural studies of this amazing area of the Southern near-Baikal. Most vigorously it was advanced by Nina Epova, docent of botanic sub-department of the Irkutsk State University.
N. Epova for almost years studied the flora of Khamar-Daban and felt in love with its original nature. Many times she undertook botanical tours to various areas of Khamar-Daban. Her works were lightened with the unique features of the ridge's nature and its vegetation. She discovered and described several endemic for the Southern near-Baikal plant associations, found I the outstanding sanctuary for relicts of tertiary broad-leaved forests.
The Nina's student, Ph.D. in biology professor Leonid Bardunov said that Khamar-Daban was her swansong. She perished at Khamar-Daban as well. Not far from Baikal at the Mishika river shore there is a blaze made with an axe on spruce. It says that here on August 30,1960 crossing the river Nina Epova perished. She was 57 only. On September 26, 1969 the second at Baikal state reserve with the area of 174 th. ha was established in the area of the expedition works of N. Epova in Khamar-Daban mountains. The Council of Ministers of Buryatia was proposed to further clarify the boundaries and area of the reserve, what was fixed with the relevant resolution of Aprill, 1970, according to which the reserve's area was determined as 169.3 th. ha.
The name given to the reserve - Baikalsky - caused perplexity. And the question is that firstly there was a dream to join the newly established «reserve with the Barguzinsky one under the unified name. This dream did not come true as totalló inexpedient, but the name Baikalsky remained. The Baikalsky reserve should be named Khamar-Dabansky on the analogue to Barguzinsky. This would better expose its contents and more clearly endicates its geographical location. Despite the proposal on the name change it remains still. In 1986 the reserve was included into the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
Unique chronicle of nature
The major task of scientific research works in the reserve since the very beginning of its operation was seen as identification of condition of the natural complex main components as for the moment of its exception from the economic use and further tracing of the coming changes caused by both the natural reasons and the circumstance of the human activity at the surrounding areas. The final goal of these studies - accumulation of scientific knowledge necessary for the development of rational nature use methods and successful conservation of the unique Baikal geosystem.
The scientific department organized right after the reserve establishment was forced to start the big work on inventory plan simultaneously with the development of the permanent monitoring studies under the Natural Chronicles programme. The skilled researchers worked previously in the Barguzinsky reserve L. Nikolaeva and A. Tkachenko put a lot of efforts to adjust these works. The fixed test areas and routes were laid under their leadership, as well as schedules for regime observations and calendar work plans under the research programmes were developed. The very first volume of the Natural Chronicles was compiled by them according to the high scientific methodic level.
By the end of 1975 the inventory of the reserve's terrestrial vertebrates fauna was completed, and in 1978 - the inventory of Embryobionta flora (Vasilchenko et al, 1978). The high mosaicity of ecological conditions at the reserve territory required from the researchers the wide area coverage, many parts of which seemed to be practically unreachable previously. Therefore, the names of the first researchers who made the inventory works should be reminded respectfully: A. Subbotina, M. Sushentzova, Z. Vasilchenko, L. Litvinova, A. Vasilchenko. Big assistance in flora inventory was provided by the officers of the Siberian Institute of Physiology and Biochemistry of Plants of Siberian Branch of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR M. Ivanova and A. Kisiliova. The terrestrial vertebrates fauna studies were assisted by the colleagues from the Biological Institute of Siberian Branch of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR B. Yudin, Yu. Shvetzov, L. Galkina etc.
Since 1976 through 1980 the reserve officer E. Martusova carried out geo-botanical mapping of Pereiomnaya and Abiduy river basins, representing the altitudinal profile that include all basic vegetation groups. The outcome of this work was development of geo-botanical map of 1:50,000 scale. The map key includes 23 vegetation categories.
In the same time period the reserve implemented the subject "Location of nestling birds at biotopes and altitudinal belt of the Khamar-Daban ridge". Such studies were never performed in the Southern Baikal area previously so these had the big scientific and practical value. In parallel with the above theme since 1976 the studies of birds migrating specificities in the Southern Baikal took place, which included bird tagging on spring and autumn migrating. Bird tagging was performed in the reserve protection zone with the assistance of the fixed snare and it continued practically without breaks till 1994. During these years around 22 thousand bird specimens were forests drying spots development at the northern slope of Khamar-Daban.
Since 1986 the reserve performs studies of the state of rare plant and animal species populations. The specific attention is given to the protection and study of these species nowadays as well. The officers of the reserve permanently participate in revisit of regional rare animal and plant lists. By now the availability of 48 plant and 49 animal species referred to as the rare species or reducing their range categories is identified.
For the present time according to the results of the studies took place at the reserve area 8 dissertations and over 20 student diplomas are defended, 62 scientific reports are made, and more than 200 scientific articles are published.
During the years passed the reserve independently and in collaboration with other scientific institutions hold studies on 24 scientific-research subjects and scientific activities of various directions.
The outcomes of the majority of works, besides their publication, were used to make practical recommendations, numbered as 17, not counting the annual forecasts on reproductive parameters of sable population.
At the present time the scientific department of the reserve is staffed with 10 specialists, including 5 Ph.D.s. Four scientific research themes are under the development, as well as the Natural Chronicles, which includes serious scientific developments. For instance, ecological biological specificities of rare plant species, population ecology of background and rare animal species, dynamics of crop-producing power of baccate semifrutex, dynamics of ion-exchange processes and soil hydrothermal regimes. The data obtained is included annually into the materials of the Unified State System of Ecological Monitoring and is used for practical purposes of nature use planning in the region.
The reserve implements works under the international programme Biodiversity Conservation. Also the project "Data base 'Lichen of Russian reserves'" supported by the Global Environment Facility is underway.
The status of the biosphere reserve allows to perform scientific research activity at both the reserve area and at the co-operation zone that includes areas making the unique complex with the reserve. Mechanisms for constructive interaction of interests of specially protected area, which consist in biodivertagged and the unique scientific material was collected by the reserve ornithologists A. Vasilchenko, V. Baskakov and K. Mikhalkin.
In 1980 the planned forest regulation of the reserve area took place. Many of the outcomes of the research works made by the reserve in previous years were as the ground for the final forest regulation documents. The programme was developed, amount and methodic of work was determined before the forest regulation. In addition to regular forest regulation works the tasks resulted from the specificity and features of the reserve activity were formulated. Forest regulating in such an amount took place in the Siberian reserves for the first time. As the result the reserve obtained thirty qualified materials. Here should also be mentioned the big scientific-methodic and practical assistance provided at that time to the reserve by the scientific officer of the Limnology Institute of Siberian Branch of the Academy of Sciences V. Molozhnikov in compilation of the geo-botanical map of the reserve and a number of other cartography materials. In 1981 the reserve commenced the development of the subject on sable population ecology. The necessity in such; studies in the region was boiled up by that time due the reduction in number of sable. A lot of interesting material was provided by the researches under this subject which are still carried out by the reserve. In recent years the reserve became one of the lead centers on this issue; results of studies are of the practical Isignificance and are used in the hunting activities planning in Buryatia. Since 1981 the studies of bryoflora, flora of inferior plants and invertebrates' fauna started in the reserve. The experienced specialists from academic and higher education institutes were attraded to this work. The complicated taxonomy structure and multiplicity of the mentioned plant and animal groups require long-term and laborious work, which is still underway with breaks.
The significant progress in this work is reached by the present time. Moss and blichen are almost totally inventoried, soil algae are studied partially, there is extensive data on reserve's insects, and Â the fungi listing is started.
Another subject: "Collection and anal-Bysis of information on the state of the reserve regime and anthropogenic factor impact on the protected natural complexes" was started in 1986. This was in fact the widening of monitoring studies performed under the Natural Chronicles programme. Later the works under this subject continued are still underway. The necessity in it was raised due to the pine sity conservation and socio-economic interests of local communities, should be developed at these lands. Therefore, the reserve plans contain development of monitoring studies with coverage of areas adjacent to the reserve aimed at the development of perspective models of nature use at these grounds.
The works under the Natural Chronicles will be continued at the reserve area, which include the wide spectrum of monitoring studies. Big work has to be done to study wetlands ecosystem and omitofauna of the state zakazniks Kabansky. Broad scientific specialization, qualification level and big work experience of the scientific department officers of the reserve allow to hope for a successful addressing of perspective research tasks of the reserve.
Mighty, eternal, fragile
In 1993 the department of environmental education was established in the Baikalsky reserve, which was aimed to become the organizer and methodic center fro work with the local population and visitors.
There are 6 men working in it. At the same time environmentally-educational work is included into the plans of the scientific and protection departments. Scholars, teachers, representatives of local authorities, public and state environmental protection organizations, citizens of settlements adjacent to the reserve, students, volunteers became the priority groups which are worked with.
There are different environmentally-educational activities. Among there are - lectures, workshops and social polls, contests and quizzes, environmental watch, area improvement, holding and participation in round tables and meetings, activities - March of Parks, Earth Day, Bird Day, Tree Day, Baikal Day, Reserves Day.
The material technical capacity of the department and the reserve includes: own video production on the reserve's nature, photo exhibitions (including travelling ones), show of collections, boards, information stands on the work of the departments of environmental education, protection and science, travelling literature exhibitions on various aspects of the reserve activity. The informational propaganda leaflets for various environmental events and festivals are published in-house. The ad publishing activity is also in the focus. It includes booklets, brochures, and popular science books of different topics.
Speaking of the effectiveness of the existing environmentally-educational activity the trend on reducing of the protection regime violations should be noted. Rising of the environmental education level could be traced in the annual polls of local population, which took place in environmental events hold by the reserve staff, and in round tables.
With regards to the perspectives plans for the future are enough broad. The search for environmental tourism development ways is underway (including the new ones - winter, summer horsing, biking) at the adjacent to reserve areas. The cooperation with the foreign specialists and volunteers is developing. The establishment of a unified ecological path "The Secret Circle" is planned around the reserve at the cooperation zone of the three Buryatia administrative districts -Selenginsky, Djidinsky and Kabansky.
It is necessary to develop the material base, establish conditions for eco-tourism beyond the reserve area. The policy of local population interest in the development of environmentally oriented business through the increase of their role in conservation of biodiversity that profits them is necessary. In a perspective the Baikalsky reserve could become the "reserve core" in the unified network of specially protected areas of the Baikal region south including Mongolia.
One of the effective forms for environmen-tally-education work is the arrangement of educational paths of nature (eco-paths), which are not only the attractive object for the civilized recreation, but the visual illustration of anthropogenic factor manifestation in nature as well. Eco-paths promote the nature protection along with the solution of educational and recreational tasks under their skilled arrangement. They are a sort of vacationers stream regulator.
To carry out the environmentally educational visits the reserve has two paths where visitors are meeting the relict and endemic flora of the ridge - along the Vydrinaya and Osinovka rivers. It is possible to meet here the traces of activity of bear, sable, roe-deer and other animals, and if you would be lucky - to watch them. Woodpecker, jay, hazel-grouse, nutcracker and other birds could be met on the path. Staff members of the scientific department of the reserve, experienced guides - specialists of the environmental education department are attracted for the work on paths.
The personnel of the reserve sees its tasks in knowledge dissemination, education of the protective attitude to the shrine of nature be living in which is fortune. Speaking on the reserve flora and fauna we are intended to show how rich and infinitely diversified is each corner of "remote unknown" Siberian taiga. And on how vulnerable and interlinked this seemed mighty and eternal world is, how big responsibility of man for its conservation is!