A TBR is an official recognition of the political will of two or more States to cooperate on key issues related to conservation and sustainable use of shared ecosystems through a coordinated management. It also represents a commitment of these States to apply together the Seville Strategy for biosphere reserves and its objectives.
Great Altay Transboundary Biosphere Reserve includes:
- Katunskiy Biosphere Reserve (Russian Federation)
- Katon-Karagay Biosphere Reserve (Republic of Kazakhstan)
Human population of the transboundary biosphere reserve (based on national figures):
|Core Area(s) (permanent and seasonally)||0|
|Buffer Zone(s) (permanent and seasonally)||150 (approx.)|
|Transition Area(s) (permanent and seasonally)||24,400 (approx.)|
Current budget for the implementation of transboundary activities:
- Approximately 8.000 EUR (500.000 Rubel) per year are provided to the administration of Katunskiy Biosphere Reserve by the Russian Ministry of Natural Ressources and Ecology for the coordination and implementation of transboundary activities in the framework of the “Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the establishment of the Transboundary reserve “Altai” (signed in November 2011);
- Similar funding from the Ministry for Environment and Water Resources of the Republic of Kazakhstan is currently not provided; therefore, the Katon-Karagay Biosphere Reserve, respectively the Katon-Karagay State National Park, can only implement activities that do not require much extra funding, e.g. implementation of joint art competitions and information exchange via Internet.
Projected required budget for the implementation of the projected transboundary activities until 2040 (according to the TBR management plan): 590.000 EUR
Area and spatial configuration of the transboundary biosphere reserve
|Area of terrestrial Core Area(s)||269,822 (17%)|
|Area of terrestrial Buffer Zone(s)||711,070 ha (46%)|
|Area of terrestrial Transition Area(s)||562,915 ha (37%)|
The zonation of the Great Altay TBR is based on the zonation schemes of the existing Katon-Karagay Biosphere Reserve and the Katunskiy Biosphere Reserve including some amendments to allow for a more effective protection and management of the ecosystems of the border region.
The zonation of the Kazakhstani part of the TBR differs slightly from the zones of the Katon-Karagay Biosphere Reserve in terms of area size and spatial distribution. The total area of the core zones is approximately 8,500 ha smaller than the core zones of the Katon-Karagay Biosphere Reserve and the Katon-Karagay State Nature Park, the buffer zone is approx. 1,500 ha larger and the transition zone is approx. 10,000 ha smaller in area
|TBR zones||Sections||Included protected area||Country||Surface area (ha)||Percentage of the total TBR area (%)||Percentage of total areа of the corresponding TBR zone|
|Core zone||northern section||State Nature Biosphere Zapovednik Katunskiy (Zapovednik)||Russian Federation||151,637||10%||56%|
|northwestern section||Katon-Karagay State National Park||Republic of Kazakhstan||7,770||7%||44%|
|small southern section||605|
|Total core zone||269,822||17%||100%|
|Buffer zone||northern section||Belukha Nature Park (partially)||Russian Federation||144,630||9%||20%|
|southern section||Katon-Karagay State National Park (partially)||Republic of Kazakhstan||566,440||37%||80%|
|Total buffer zone||711,070||46%||100%|
|Transition zone||northern section||Belukha Nature Park (partially)||Russian Federation||290,655||19%||52%|
|southern section||Republic of Kazakhstan||272,260||18%||48%|
|Total transition zone||562,915||37%||100%|
|Total area of the Great Altay TBR||1,543,807|
There are five core zone sections with an overall area of 269,822 ha corresponding to 17% of the total TBR area. They are devoted to long-term protection of the diverse landscapes, ecosystems and species of the Great Altay TBR as well as to the maintenance of the ecosystem services provided by such diversity.
All core zone sections are protected by national legislation. The core zones of the Kazakhstani part of the TBR are related to the core zones (заповедные зоны) of the Katon-Karagay State National Park. The protection regime of the Katon-Karagay State National Park and the corresponding functional zonation is fixed in the law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On specially protected natural territories”, the decree of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On the establishment of the Katon-Karagay State National Park” and the approved Forest Inventory Plan of the Katon-Karagay State National Park for 2014-2029.
The core zone of the Russian part of the TBR is protected as the Katunskiy State National Park (заповедник) according to the Federal Law “On specially protected natural territories” of the Russian Federation and the decree of the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR “On the establishment of the State Nature Biosphere Zapovednik Katunskiy”.
According to the mentioned national laws and decrees all economic activities and recreational uses are prohibited in the core zones of the Great Altay TBR. Only scientific research and environmental monitoring (e.g. on climate change) takes place, generating knowledge for efficient conservation of the TBR biodiversity and its ecosystem services as well as for a sustainable economic and human development. Additionally, in the Russian core zone sections educational tourism is permitted, but restricted in terms of visitor numbers and visitor direction. There are no people living in the territory of the core zones, not even seasonally.
The lands of the core zone are state-owned being managed and controlled by the administrations of State Nature Biosphere Zapovednik Katunskiy and Katon-Karagay State Nature Park. The complete core zone of the Russian part of the TBR is part of the Golden Mountains of Altai World Heritage Site.
The buffer zone of the Great Altay TBR covers 711,070 ha corresponding to 46% of the total TBR area.
Its role is to prevent or minimize negative effects of human-induced activities onto the core zones of the TBR (buffering function), but it has also its own intrinsic function in terms of maintenance of biological diversity since it includes large areas that are very remote and little influenced by human activities. Thus, the buffer zone of the Kazakhstani part includes approximately 132,000 ha which belong to the zone of ecological stabilization of Katon-Karagay State National Park. According to the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On specially protected natural territories” this zone has a strict protection regime prohibiting any economic or touristic activities with the exception of restricted ecological tourism and activities focusing on the restoration of destroyed or degraded natural complexes. Only recently, the rare and endangered species snow leopard (Panthera unica) and Pallas’s cat (Otocolobus manul) have been recorded in the zone of ecological stabilization and in the zone for restricted economic activity. Beside this ultimate conservation function, the TBR buffer zones provide also ecological corridors, which connect the five core zones sections of the TBR with each other as well as the TBR habitats with adjacent ecologically important sites.
There are no people living permanently in the Russian part of the TBR buffer zone, but two ranger stations of the State Nature Biosphere Zapovednik Katunskiy exist, of which one is in operation seasonally and one - permanently. In the Kazakhstani part of the TBR buffer zone about 100 people live there in the villages of Karayryk and Rakhmanovskiye Klyuchi and about 50 people live seasonally, during the summer period, on the highland pastures.
Lands of the buffer zone are mainly state-owned, but management institutions differ significantly in the Kazakhstani and the Russian part of the TBR. In the Kazakhstani part of the TBR, more than 90% of the buffer zone belongs to the territory of the Katon-Karagay State National Park, hence including four different zones of the Katon-Karagay State National Park: the ecological stabilization zone, the tourism and recreational zone, the zone for restricted economic activity and parts of the core zone of the Katon-Karagay State National Park. Less than 10% of the buffer zone of the Kazakhstani part is managed by local authorities of Katon-Karagay district, Kurchum district and Zuryan district and the akims (head of a local government in the Republic of Kazakhstan) of the corresponding rural districts.
In the Russian part of the TBR the buffer zone is managed and controlled by various institutions such as the Ust-Koksinskiy forest district administration, the administration of Belukha Nature Park and other local authorities of Ust-Koksa district. While the restrictions for economic activities in the buffer zone of the Kazakhstani part are stipulated in the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On specially protected natural territories” and successive legal documents, such legal regulations are missing for the management of the buffer zone in the Russian part of the TBR. Although a big portion of the Russian buffer zone belongs to the Belukha Nature Park, the park administration has very limited power to restrict the use of natural resources and landscapes.
The transition zone of the Great Altay TBR covers 562,915 ha corresponding to 37% of the total TBR area. In this zone sustainable economic and human development is fostered and demonstration projects (e.g. on pasture rotation systems, rural tourism) are developed and implemented. There are about 24,400 people living in 38 settlements within the transition zone of the Great Altay TBR.
A big share of the transition zones consists of private‐owned lands that are used for livestock grazing, red deer (maral) farming, fodder production and apiculture. Forestry activities include sanitary cutting and thinning cuts as well as restoration of degraded forest stands. Tourism, hunting, fishing and the collection of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) is widespread. Sustainable employment opportunities, e.g. in the field of environmental education, eco-tourism, nature protection and environmental rehabilitation are fostered and complement the conservation goals of the Great Altay TBR. For example, nearly 400 people, living in the Kazakhstani part of the transition zone, work in the administration of the Katon-Karagay State Nature Park securing protection and sustainable use of the ecosystems and species of the TBR.
The transition zone in the Russian part of the TBR is congruent with the updated transition zone of the Katunskiy Biosphere Reserve, including the southern part of the Belukha Nature Park. About 10% of the Russian transition zone belongs to the Golden Mountains of Altai World Heritage Site. The transition zone of the Kazakhstani part of the TBR differs slightly from the transition zone of the Katon-Karagay Biosphere Reserve due to the incorporation of the new zonation scheme of the Katon-Karagay State National Park.
The Great Altay TBR area is a highly preserved natural area with a unique biological, landscape, ethnic and cultural diversity, providing a large range of ecosystem services, which are important to local communities as well as to humankind at the regional and global levels. It is created to conserve and study its biotic and abiotic features in a transboundary context and to enhance both the material as well as the spiritual wellbeing of local communities.
The Great Altay TBR is a model for sustainable development of border mountain areas.
It is jointly managedby the Governments of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Russian Federationwith the participation of all stakeholders following an adaptive management approach.
The successful designation and establishment of the Great Altay TBR is considered a first step towards a comprehensive transboundary conservation and management of the ecosystems of the Altai region. It may leverage the vision and former plans of the establishment of a quadrilateral TBR among the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, Mongolia and the People’s Republic of China that were developed in 2004 (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH, Eco Consulting Group, 2004) and reconfirmed in 2014 (Environmental Commission of the Russian Geographical Society; Federal Agency for Nature Conservation of Germany, 2014). The numerous surrounding protected areas provide opportunities to foster cooperation and spatial connectivity
Major ecosystem type:
- Alpine nival, alpine and sub-alpine zone; middle mountain meadow-steppe zone of juniper woodlands, shrubs and bushes savannoids; lowland belt of shrubs and large grass (sometimes steppe) savannoids (Kazakhstani part of the Great Altay TBR);
- high-altitudinal glacial and nival, high-altitudinal tundra, alpine and subalpine meadows, montane forests, combination of forests and meadow steppes, steppes of intermontane depression (Russian part of the Great Altay TBR).
Major habitats & land cover types:
- Meadow multigrass- feather grass steppes / pastures, larch forests with grassy ground cover / forest land, ecosystem of spruce-fir forests with some cedar / forest land (Kazakhstani part of the Great Altay TBR) ;
- Mountain tundra, alpine and subalpine meadows, coniferous forests, meadow steppes (Russian part of the Great Altay TBR).
- Dry Sub-humid (Kazakhstani part of the Great Altay TBR);
- high mountains of Altai (Russian part of the Great Altay TBR).