In September 2011, the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Establishment of the Transboundary Reserve “Altai” was signed by the governments of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Kazakhstan, including the territories of the Katon-Karagay State National Park and the State Nature Biosphere Zapovednik Katunskiy. In September 2012, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), initiated its support for the establishment of a bilateral transboundary biosphere reserve, which would represent a first step towards a wider regional cooperation. In order to develop a joint management plan and the nomination, the international project “Development of a management plan for the projected transboundary biosphere reserve Altai” was started in September 2012 being initiated by the governments of the Russian Federation, the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Federal Republic of Germany and funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) with financial means of the Advisory Assistance Programme for Environmental Protection in the Countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. The Centre for Econics and Ecosystem Management of the Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development (Germany) was mandated by the BMUB to implement the project, being supervised by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) and the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA).
The governments of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation agreed on the international project “Development of a management plan for the projected transboundary biosphere reserve Altai”. As a first step, a Joint Commission for the realization of the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Establishment of the Transboundary Reserve “Altai” was established for the implementation of the agreement and met first in November 2013. The establishment of the Great Altai TBR is believed by all partners to be an appropriate mechanism for developing effective strategies within local communities for the sustainable management of natural resources. Through improved sustainable resource management the transboundary cooperation aims to deliver effective biodiversity conservation of the large unique ecosystems spanning the administrative boundaries of the states in this area. An important milestone was achieved in 2000, when the Katunskiy Biosphere Reserve (Russian Federation) was established, including the territories of the State Nature Zapovednik5 Katunskiy (SNZ Katunskiy) and the Belukha Nature Park (Belukha NP) and in July 2014 when Katon-Karagay Biosphere Reserve was established on the basis of the territory of the Katon-Karagay State National Park.
The Great Altai TBR is situated in the centre of Eurasia in the South Siberian region and encompasses parts of the remote Altai Mountains. In the Republic of Kazakhstan it is located in the East Kazakhstan province and stretches over large parts of the Katon-Karagay district and reaches into Zyryan district and Kurchum district. In the Russian Federation the Great Altay TBR stretches over the southern part of the Altai Republic, particularly the southern part of Ust-Koksa district.
The TBR builds on the two existing national biosphere reserves: Katunskiy BR and Katon-Karagay BR.
The Great Altay TBR covers an entire area of 1,543,807 ha (15,438 km²), whereby 956,890 ha
(9,569 km²) are located in the East Kazakhstan province (Republic of Kazakhstan) and 586,920 ha
(5,869 km²) in the Altai Republic (Russian Federation). The length of the shared boundary between the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation inside of the Great Altay TBR constitutes to 135 km.