West Altai Biosphere Reserve

General Location West Altai BR


The West Altai biosphere reserve (West Altai BR) is located within the western spurs of the Altai mountain system. The Ivanovsky and Lineysky Belok ridges are located directly on the territory of the reserve, and the states of Kazakhstan and Russia separate the Koksu and Kholzun ridges. The reserve is located in the north-eastern part of the East Kazakhstan region and borders on the Russian Federation. Administratively, it is located on the territory of the Zyryanovsky district and the lands of the Ridder city administration. Geographical location in the natural zoning system: Steppe landscape zone of the temperate zone. Southern subzone (fescue-feather grass) of the steppes. Country: mountains of southern Siberia. Region: Altai. Province: Southwest Altai (Kazakhstan Altai). District: Kurchum - Ulba. Area: Bukhtarma - Ulba.

The total area of the West Altai BR is 189,477 ha. The core zone (the territory of the West Altai State Natural Reserve) accounts for 86 122 ha, the buffer zone - 22 475 ha (2 km strip along the perimeter of the state reserve), the development zone - about 80 880 ha. The core zone of the BR is a strictly protected zone of the protected regime of the West Altai State Nature Reserve, which is a mountain natural complex of Western Altai. According to the legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the buffer zone of the West-Altai Reserve is the protected zone of the reserve, which covers a two-kilometer strip along the perimeter of the core zone of the reserve. The transition zone (zone of development, cooperation) of the West Altai BR is located on the territory of the lands of two akimats of the East Kazakhstan region - the Ridder city administration and the Zyryanovsky district. All three zones are connected and complement each other. The indigenous zone is closed to visitors and represents the reference areas of regional natural complexes, as well as the untouchable genetic reserve of wild species of flora and fauna, this zone is a control zone during long-term monitoring. The buffer zone is also under a protective regime, but limited human activity is allowed here (tourism, scientific research, educational programs, partial use of natural renewable resources, etc.). Both zones carry out the function of preserving natural complexes and partly the function of sustainable development. The transition zone is used for the life of the local population, the development of the economy, culture and education. There is no strict regime for the protection of natural complexes, but there are restrictions on nature management (environmentally dirty production is prohibited). In general, such zoning ensures overcoming the conflict between socio-economic development and the protection of wild nature complexes and provides an opportunity for sustainable development of the economy and culture.

To attract the appropriate partners, the Coordination Council of the West Altai BR was created, which includes representatives of the state nature reserve, nature users, local authorities and public organizations.

According to the correspondence of the types of protected areas of the Republic of Kazakhstan to IUCN categories, the West Altai Nature Reserve belongs to category 1a - the territory of wildlife. The reserve territory covers the least anthropogenically disturbed natural complexes and ecosystems characteristic of the mountain-taiga part of Western Altai, which have a reference value. The forests of the reserve are of great value. Forests are little affected by economic activity and have insignificant losses from forest fires in the years preceding the formation of the reserve, and during the period of its existence they are noticeably restored.

The floral richness of the West Altai BR shows that it plays a significant role in preserving the biodiversity of Kazakhstan Altai. The West Altai BR plays a significant role in preserving the gene pool of rare, endangered plant species. On the territory of the reserve is a natural monument of republican significance - the geo-architectural complex "Linear Pillars".

Established in 1992, the West Altai BR is one of the most representative of the nature reserve sites among the nature reserves of Kazakhstan. The territory with an area of 86122 ha is represented by one integral site, having a shape elongated in the meridian direction and fairly rounded outlines of the territory's perimeter. It plays an important role in preserving the natural ecosystems and communities of the region, preserving the reference biodiversity and gene pool of plant and animal species, includes unique and characteristic mid-mountain taiga and high-mountain alpine landscapes of the steppe zone of the temperate zone of Eurasia. An advantageous geographical position, a sufficiently large area, places rich in food create favorable conditions for habitat and breeding in the reserve, the most diverse animals and birds for which the reserve is a reproductive base and rest zone.

West Altai BR zonation

Functional Zoning

             According to existing calculations of the optimal density of the main types of fauna of Kazakhstan, the territory of the reserve is sufficient to ensure the existence of minimal viable populations of large animal species. Due to the wide variety of climatic conditions, out of the 25 types of forest ecosystems allocated by foresters in Western Altai, 15 types of significant distribution were formed on its territory, of which 6 include cedar, the distribution of which is very limited in the Kazakhstani part of Altai. According to studies of the flora of the West Altai Nature Reserve, there are 883 species from 350 genera and 85 families. Today, 237 species of lower spore plants (mushrooms) and 883 species and varieties of higher vascular plants grow on the territory of the reserve, and 3 species of lower and 15 species of higher plants are geographical innovations for the flora of Kazakhstan. Absolutely unaccounted for are the types of mosses and lichens. The reserve territory is rich in medicinal plants, among which the most common are: frankincense, golden and maral root, penny, peony and others. In total, at the moment, only one inspection of a small area of the territory revealed 44 species of medicinal plants and their vicar analogues.

The fauna of the West Altai BR is typical of the mid-mountain region of Western Altai. Five species of fish, 2 species of amphibians, 4 species of reptiles, 57 species of mammals, 162 species of birds, including 120 nesting species, were noted here. The invertebrate fauna is practically unstudied, but their species diversity can reach 10,000.

The group of plants in need of special protection includes 82 species, or 10.35% of the entire flora of the reserve, of which 27 species are listed in the Red Book of Kazakhstan. The group of relics in the flora of the reserve is represented by more than 70 species, different in age, origin, geographical and ecological confinement. The group of endemic and subendemic Altai - Sayan provinces makes up 10.8% of the floristic diversity of the reserve, i.e. 86 species from 57 genera and 28 families. The Altai flora contains 18 Altai endemic species, 7 of them are narrow-local, more than 70 relict species of different age and origin. Conducted floristic studies on the territory of the West Altai Biosphere Reserve made it possible to justify the need to include an additional 23 species of plants in the Red Book of Kazakhstan.

Of the rare mammals in Kazakhstan, wolverines live in the reserve and musk deer live in limited areas. Of the representatives of the animal world listed in the Red Book of Kazakhstan in the reserve are noted: Myotis ikonnikovi, 6 species of birds, of which 5 species nest (black stork, golden eagle, peregrine falcon, gray crane, eagle owl) and 1 species is found during the period of migration (saker), 1 species of fish is taimen. Two more species of birds - the coronella and Emberiza aureola - are included in the international list of globally threatened bird species compiled by BirdLife International (2005). The organization of the West Altai Reserve was caused by the need to preserve natural complexes, protect the wildlife, and to a greater extent by preserving the rich diversity of forests and especially the black taiga, which is distributed only in Western Altai within Kazakhstan. The main factors that change the natural complexes are modern physical and geological processes, natural pollution with lead and zinc, as well as anthropogenic impact.

Natural disturbance of landscapes, expressed by wind, water and ravine erosion, is observed almost throughout the reserve. Pollution with elements of heavy metals is noted at ore occurrence sites along the Ivanovsky and Koksuysky ranges. The anthropogenic factor, expressed in disturbance of the forest slope and valley landscapes, the geological environment, as well as the land cover as a result of the construction of the road, has the greatest influence. Due to the features of the terrain: the inaccessibility and steepness of the slopes, a significant part of the forests that make up the most valuable ecosystems of the reserve, remained intact, retaining their originality. Large sections of alpine ecosystems are also in an extremely undisturbed state; restoration of forests in the former areas of coniferous felling is observed. The most undisturbed sections of the territory are the left-bank mountain taiga part of the Black Uba valley, the upper and right-bank part of the Bolshoi Turgusun river valley and the watershed part of the Turgusun ridge.

The territory of the West Altai Biosphere Reserve, in addition to the above advantages, has a high aesthetic significance, attracting the attention of various layers of nature lovers. On the territory there are unique natural sites and monuments of nature, of which the most significant are:

- a state natural monument - a geo-architectural complex of granite remnants of Linea Pillars, located at the eastern end of the Linea Range;

- geomorphological complex Black Uzel, located at the head of the river. Big Turgusun.

- Alpine swamp complex Gulbische, located on the watershed of the Black Uba and Barsuk rivers;

Biosphere Reserve is located within the Altai geo-botanical province that belongs to the first Northeast forest-growing mid-mountain-high-mountainous region of dark coniferous taiga, forests and tundra, where 3 zones stand out, the hypsometric and spatial location of which is determined by the laws of altitudinal zonation: mountain taiga dark coniferous forests, subalpine and alpine meadows and alpine meadows. Deciduous forest occupies small areas, confined to the valley sections of the middle reaches of the rivers. The main forest-forming species are fluffy and drooping birch, aspen. The second tier is composed of bird cherry, mountain ash, yellow acacia. The grass cover is powerful, includes: Heracleum sibiricum, Archangelica decurrens, Aconitum leucostomum, Saussurea latifolia, Paeonia anomala, Delphinium elatum, Oxalis, Campanula altaica, Taraxacum officinale, Agrimonia pilosa, Agrostis alba, Aegopodium podagraria, Solidago virgaurea, Festuca gigantea, Athyrium filix-femina, Pteridium aquilinum and others.

Of great interest is the formation of the black taiga, which is widespread in Kazakhstan only in Western Altai; its original massifs are located on the territory of the reserve. The black taiga, the leading formation in Western Altai, differs from other phytocenoses by the predominance of fir in the first tier, aspen, birch in the second tier, mountain ash, bird cherry in the undergrowth, the powerful development of tall grass and occasional moss cover.

Black taiga with the participation of aspen is found at an altitude of 400 to 800-1000m above sea level. sea, birch-fir from 600-700 to 1400m. The edificators of the black taiga are Siberian fir, aspen and birch, and the appearance of Siberian pine (cedar) in some areas indicates a gradual transition to other formations.

Cedar-fir forests are, as it were, a transitional form between the black and dark coniferous taiga, fir and cedar grow here, at the same time there are no deciduous trees typical of dark coniferous taiga. Cedar-fir forests replace the black taiga at an altitude of more than 1200m above sea level. sea grass species are the same as in the black and dark coniferous taiga, relic plants are present.

Dark coniferous taiga is distributed mainly in the Black Uba basin within 1400-1900m above sea level. seas on the slopes of northern expositions. Its distinctive feature is polydominance, i.e. the presence of several main forest-forming species, relatively equivalent phytocenotically. Spruce, fir and cedar serve as edificators. Larch and birch occurring in some areas do not change the structure of the main formation. In the upper limits, the appearance of dark coniferous taiga changes: fir participation decreases, pure cedar forests appear on the southern slopes, and clean larch forests appear on the northern slopes (the area of the Beloubinsky lakes at the junction of the Linea and Ivanovsky ranges).

On the northern slopes to 1900-2000m above sea level seas already in the subalpine zone there are non-fruiting elfin forms of cedar, fir, spruce and larch occasionally; on the southern slopes of junipers.

Subalpine meadows in the territory from a height of 1900-2000m above sea level seas are divided into high-grass (large-grass) meadows, which are most widespread, and low-grass. Subalpine vegetation alternates with light forests and copses of cedar, larch and thickets of willow and birch bushes.

Alpine meadows follow subalpine meadows without a clear distinction, characteristic alpine species dominate. Alpine tundra occupies heights up to 2000-2200m above sea level. the sea and covers the penoplenized slopes of the ranges and watersheds, descending along the northern slopes to the forest belt. On the territory of the reserve, gravel, shrubby, sedge-dryad and moss formations of the tundra are noted, forming spots and stripes of various configurations and areas.

A distinctive feature of Altai, as noted earlier, in particular of the West, is a wide variety of forest vegetation. Forests are composed of typical representatives of the Siberian taiga, as well as widespread Eurasian trees: Pinus sylvestris, Populus tremula, Betula pendula and B. pubescens. Moreover, birch and partly aspen dominate in the secondary stands on the site of conflagrations and clearings. The main forest areas are occupied:

larch forests;

dark coniferous mountain taiga;

black taiga;

cedar-larch mountain taiga;

pine forests (on granite);

spruce forests (in river valleys).

Map of Landscapes West Altai BR

Ecosystem map

The black taiga, confined to heights of about 1400-1500 m above sea level, is a combination of fir and aspen forests with thickets of tall grass. The height of the latter (in forest glades), for example, Angelica decurrens, often exceeds 3 m. It got its name due to the fact that it contains relics of broad-leaved forests or niello. The height of the stand reaches 25-30 m. The undergrowth is composed of the following species: Sorbus sibirica, Padus avium, Sambucus sibirica, Caragana arborescens and some other species, and herbage - Urtica dioica, Millium effusum, Athyrium filix-femina, and Alfredia cernua.

According to scientists from botanists, the flora of the West Altai Reserve is 799 species of higher vascular plants belonging to 338 genera distributed between 84 families. Moreover, the quantitative ratio of its largest taxa indicates that it is a typical flora of temperate regions of the Holarctic: “with a low proportion of higher spore (4.0%) and gymnosperms (1.1%) plants. Moreover, among the higher spore ferns and horsetails prevail, and among gymnosperms - conifers. The basis of the flora of the reserve, with the indisputable advantage of dicotyledons over monocotyledons (the latter is almost 3 times less), is composed of angiosperms (more than 90% of the total number of species) plants. In general, it should be noted that among the reserves of Kazakhstan, the West Altai Reserve has a flora that is inferior in the absolute number of species only to the flora of the Aksu-Dzhabagly and Almaty biosphere reserves. Thus, the total number of species of its flora exceeds that indicated for individual ranges of the Kazakhstan Altai and makes up 54.5% of the total floristic diversity of the Kazakhstan part of Western Altai.

According to the latest research, 15 species of higher vascular plants, which are actually Altai endemic, grow in the territory of the West Altai Reserve, which is 1.68% of the total floristic composition. At the same time, 4 species (Elymus ubinica, E. lineicus, E. longespicatus, Elymotrigia leninogorica) are narrow-local endemic, i.e. at the moment they are known only in the reserve.

In addition, the following 6 species are endemic to the West Altai Okrug: Thesium rupestre, Oxytropis sulphurea, Alchemilla altaica, A. curvidens, Blepleurum longiinvolucratum, Tephroseris veresczagini); West and South Altai okrugs of the 4th century: Elymus marmoreus, Sibiraea altaiensis, Scutellaria altaica, Erigeron altaicus). And one species - Allium ledebourianum, is found in the Western, Southern and Central districts.

Regarding the distribution of endemic species by family, it should be noted that the vast majority of them belong to the leading families. Moreover, the maximum indicators of endemism are observed in the following 8: Salicaceae, Fabaceae, Scrophulariaceae, Ranunculaceae, Asteraceae, Rosaceae, Boraginaceae and Poaceae.

In addition to endemic species, the most important elements of the reserve's flora include relict plants that make up more than 70 species of different age, origin, as well as geographical and ecological confinement. Among them, in particular, relics are distinguished:

  • nemoral, species of the tertiary forest flora (Rhizomatopteris montana, Rh. sudetica, Polystichum lonchitis, Festuca altissima, Epipogium aphyllum, etc.);
  • Miocene-Pliocene, species also of Tertiary age, but characteristic of the flora of the primitive steppes of Altai and Mongolia (Stipa pennata, Achnatherum sibiricum, Tulipa uniflora, Thesium repens, Veronica pinnata);
  • glacial and interglacial, the youngest species in terms of geological age (Bupleurum longiinvolucratum, Allium pumilum, Dracocephalum peregrium, Arnica ijinii, Woodsia alpina and others).

The fauna of the West Altai State Nature Reserve is typical for the region of Western Altai, includes 2 species of fish, 2 species of amphibians and 2 species of reptiles, more than 130 species of birds, more than 52 species of mammals.

In the reserve, special studies to identify the species composition of invertebrates have not been conducted. The species composition is very poorly studied. According to preliminary data, about 10 thousand species of insects from 25 orders, about 350 families are found in the reserve.

The unique geographical position of the East Kazakhstan region lies in the fact that it is located in the depths of the largest continent of Eurasia, within its central part, on the border of the great plains - Western Siberia, Central Asia and Kazakhstan. On the territory of the region there is a continental pole of the planet and the geographical center of Eurasia. A variety of natural conditions and resources is favorable for its economic development. Eastern Kazakhstan lies at the crossroads of the great waterway along the Irtysh and Ob, and is connected by major railways and highways with neighboring regions of our republic, and with economically and culturally developed states.

Within the East Kazakhstan region, 14 administrative districts and 4 territories subordinated to the administrations of cities are allocated within the new borders. The regional center is the city of Ust-Kamenogorsk. In the western half of the region, the city of Semipalatinsk is a major historical, scientific, cultural and industrial center. The areas (Riddersky and Zyryanovsky) in whose territory the West Altai State Nature Reserve is located have an industrial direction of production. The leading sectors of the economy are mining, non-ferrous metallurgy, mechanical engineering, energy, forestry and food industry, as well as agriculture. There are 497 enterprises in the city, including 19 industrial, 9 construction and 2 transport organizations, 230 small and medium enterprises, 13 from the service sector, 7 bank branches. Ridder has 20 schools, two colleges, eight medical institutions, eight libraries, one Palace of Culture, two museums.

Gold, zinc, lead, copper, wood and furs, food - this is not a complete list of products of enterprises of the city.

Agriculture of the considered areas is represented mainly by livestock and crop production (vegetable growing, grain crops).

Livestock is developed mainly in the private sector. Local residents are engaged in cattle breeding, sheep and horse breeding. Pig production is widespread, due to the ethnic composition of the local population.

In hunting farms of East Kazakhstan there are agricultural lands (arable land, fallow lands), steppe lands (pastures, hayfields), mountain-forest lands. In addition to commercial hunting sites, there are hunting facilities.

The state of hunting management, protection, reproduction and use of the hunting fauna is satisfactory. This is explained by the traditional way of life of the local rural population, organized by the management of the hunting economy, with the presence of regulated use of the hunting fauna, licensing of hunting activities. There is a network of paid stopping points for temporary residence of hunters visiting the hunting economy for a long time, the necessary staffing of hunting experts and huntsmen in hunting farms, as well as regulatory documentation that defines the procedure for keeping records of hunting animals taken from nature during hunting, are formed. All this allows you to maintain reliable records of animal production. As a result, the presented reports contain objective data on the amount of game caught in the hunting economy, since they are based on the amount of game allowed for citizens to shoot and the amount of payments made for the right to use the wildlife. As a result, the regional budget has a significant income from hunting farms.