Virgin Komi Forests (re-nomination)
Permanent Delegation of the Russian Federation to UNESCO
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Preparation of a new category “Virgin Komi Forests” (re-nomination) solves two major tasks:
1. Extend the area of the existing World Heritage site due to the increase of the territory of the National Park " Yugyd Va " (an area of over 183 thousand hectares) that is the part of an entire old-growth coniferous forests ecosystem, protected within the National Park "Yugyd Va" New territories, linking and complementing the National Park, act as one of the important elements of ecological frame, designed for protection of a complex of unique ecosystems of the National Park "Yugyd Va" and the Pechora-Ilych State Natural Reserve .
2. Streamlining of borders in the northern part of the existing World Heritage site.
Total area of the property to be nominated is 3 473 085 ha, including:
·The Yugvd Va National Park is 2 029 014 ha;
·conservation zone of the Yugvd Va National Park is 228 877 ha;
·The Pechoro-llychsky state natural biosphere reserve is 721 930 ha;
·buffer area of the Pechoro-llychsky state natural biosphere reserve is 493 264 ha.
From October 3 to 11, 2010, by the decision of 34 COM 7B.25 of the World Heritage Committee was implemented the Monitoring Mission of the World Heritage Centre and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to the UNESCO World Heritage Site "The Virgin Komi Forests".
Mission reviewed the situation with the enclave PL350 (the site between the rivers Shchugor and Podcherye). This site was included in the nomination, but excluded when the property was inserted in the World Heritage List, as the site had no conservation status.
Mission had the opportunity to see the forest in the upper reaches of the Ilych River, which separates the National Park and the Reserve. As in the case with the enclave PL350, this area was included in the nomination, but excluded when the property was included in the list of World Heritage sites, due to the lack of protective status.
As in the case of the enclave PL350, this site was included in the nomination, but excluded when the object was inserted in the list of World Heritage sites, due to the lack of protective status. Flying over the area, the members of Mission made sure that the area is covered by untouched virgin forest, without any signs of human intervention.
Mission considered it important to give protected status to these sites in order to enhance the integrity of the property.
Merged to the National Park areas are a part of an entire old-growth coniferous forests ecosystem, protected within the National Park "Yugyd Va”. New territories, linking and complementing the National Park, act as one of the important elements of the ecological frame, designed for protection of a complex of unique ecosystems of the National Park "Yugyd Va" and Pechora-llych State Natural Reserve.
Including in the composition of the National Park of new areas will expand the zone of protection of the Podcherye River Basin, which is an important recreational facility of the National Park.
In the nominated territory there are three large geomorphological areas according to specific features of relief and geological structure: Pechora Depression, Piedmont hilly (rugged hills) area, Mountainous area.
Meridian mountain chains of the Ural have the major impact on the outlook of the park. Major landscape zones of the Park, i.e. plain, foothill (rugged hills) and mountain, differentiating by geomorphologic structure, climate conditions and, as the outcome, soil and vegetation.
In the mountain landscape of the reserve there can be segregated three tiers of the plants: mountain forests, subalpine and mountain tundra.
The territory of the Park is characterized by well-developed hydrographical network that is explained by strong segregation of the relief and significant moisturizing of the western slope of the Ural.
The rivers of the park, flowing down from the western slope of the Ural Mountains, perform an important function - deliver “fresh” water to the Pechora, one of the biggest rivers in Europe, flowing into the Barents sea.
The major rivers of the National Park are right influxes of the Pechora, the Podcherem and the Schugor (the Northern Ural), the left influxs of the Usa flowing into the Pechora, the Bolshaya Synya (the Big Synya), Kosyu and Kozhim, the right in-stream of the Kosyu (Sub-Polar Ural).
The major rivers of the Reserve are Pechora and Ilych, each of them goes along the boundaries of reserve around 200 km.
Pechora is the biggest and the best river in the European North, it starts in the territory of reserve with two streams, coming together in the boundaries of mountain tundra belt between the peaks of Engile-Chahl and Pecherya-Talyah-Chaly at the altitude of 896.8 m above the seal level. Its total length is 1809 km, water catchment area is 322 thousand km2.
The climate of the Sub-Polar Ural and the Northern Ural is severe and extremely continental. It is formed under the impact of the western drifting of the air masses and frequent intrusions of the cold arctic air from the north along the mountain ranges. As a result of such circulation there can be noticed intensive cyclone activities and deformation of the air flows by the mountains, that causes extremely unstable and excessively humid weather. The Sub-Polar Ural and the Northern Ural are the richest in snow and rain water areas of the Ural. Especially a lot of them falls down in the upper lands of the western slope of the Sub-Polar Ural - annual amount of the rain & snow water achieves 1500 mm and more, in the mountain areas of the Northern Ural this parameter is a hit lower - 1000 mm. In the plain and in the piedmont area the annual summary of the rain and snow water reduces significantly and equals 500 - 800 mm. The major part of them falls down in thewarm period of the year (April - October). Up to 40% of the annual amount of the rain and snow water in the form of the snow falls down.
Because of long territory of the park in the latitude direction and variety of the relief forms, the temperature mode in its different parts shows significant differences.
In the Sub-Polar Ural the average monthly temperature of the coldest month (January) in the south equals -18°C, in the north -21°C. Winter temperature minimum is -55°C. Winter lasts from October to mid-April, in the higher mountains longer. For the winter period are typical strong winds, their speed achieves sometimes 40 - 50 m/sec. Snow thawing starts in March and it is accompanied with rapid fluctuations of daily temperatures: at night air cools down to -30°C, in the day-time warms-up to 10°C. In sunny days there are abnormal temperatures mentioned, it is when in the higher mountain areas air temperature is lower than in the plateau and in the plain land.
Average monthly temperature of the warmest month (July) in the Sub-Polar Ural is 10°C, in its piedmont areas 12°C. In general summer is characterized by cool instable weather and frequent returns of colds and night frosts, deceasing of the atmospheric processes. The duration of autumn is 50 - 60 days, in the northern part and in the higher mountains it starts significantly earlier than in the plain land.
The Reserve is located in the area where arctic and moderate climatic zones meet. The climate is characterized as continental & oceanic with the difficult process of annual climatic phenomena.
Average monthly positive temperatures of the air are noticed within the period of 6 months, but average duration of the frost-free period is 80-83 days. In certain years when there were late spring and early autumn frosts mentioned, the frost-free period is reduced to 50 days. The vegetation period when the average daily temperature exceeds +10°,is 80-85 days in the plain land and 47-80 days in the piedmont area and in the mountains. Average annual temperature of the air in the area of the Yaksha is 0.7°C, in the north of the mountain area is around -4°. Average temperature for many years of the coldest month, January is -17,8°; of the warmest month, July -16.3°. Absolute minimum is -55,5°C, absolute maximum +35,7°C°.
General annual rainfall is the following: in the plain land area 500-800 mm (coverage annual amount is 635.5 mm), in the mountain area it is up to 1000 mm. major part of the rainfall happens in the warm period of the year (April - October). Almost 40% of the annual rainfall amount in the form of snow falls down.
Average duration when the snow cover lays on in the plain land is 200 days, in the mountains it is up to 220 days. Average date of the forming of the stable snow cover in the Yaksha area is October 21st, thawing is May 7th. In the mountains snow falls down at the end of September, thaws quite unevenly, staying sometimes until July. Maximum average decade height of the snow in the pine forests is around 90cm, in the dark softwood taiga it is 90 - 120 cm. In the mountains depending on the conditions of relief and exposure of the slope this number varies between 20 and 200 cm and more. Minimum height of the snow cover is typical for mountain tundra, where snow is normally blown by the wind.
Flora of the National Park includes more than 600 species of the vascular plants, tens of species of mosses and lichens. Some of them have the status of "red hook" ones. These are yellow lady's slipper and blotched slipper, Woodsia alpina, common peon, Snowdon rose etc.
The main role in the picturesque landscapes is played by wood species: Siberian spruce, silver-fir, Siberian pine (cedar), larch, white birch, European white birch, mountain birch and more seldom pine and aspen. In the southern part of the park quite often the one can meet growth of tree-like willows. In the swampy and river-side areas impassable "jungles" are formed by bush willows, and also by dwarf birch and hush alder. At the forest borders and towpaths in the lower parts of the slopes there are many bushes: Spiraea media, prairie weed, hedge rose, Pallas honeyberry. The specific feature of the plant cover of the park is diversity of the shrubs. Normal in the over soil cover of forest and mountain tundra communities are lingonberry, swamp blueberry, blueberry, and crowberry. In the stony exposed surface of the forest belt and higher grow dryad, Alpine bearberry, Harrimanella, Diapensia, fruticulous willow.
The specific feature of the park's flora is numerous amounts of ferns and heather. Here gramineous, composite flowers, rose family, buttercup family, buttercup, figwort family belong to ten most multiple families.
Of the biggest interest are endemic species of the plants. The other endemic species were formed as a result of hybrids forming of the relative species and isolated geographic plants. To the endemics in the national park are listed Taliev's thyme, mountain anemone, Ural aypsophila, Northern flax etc, all in all more than 10 species.
The territory of the Park is represented by virgin forests with rare and endemic species of shrubs and herbs: shrubby cinquefoil, rodiola guadrefida, mountain anemone, etc. Such plant species as arctic paintbrush, yellow lady's slipper, Snowdon rose are included in the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation. The majority of cenopopulations of rare plants is in a stable state.
Specific feature of the plant cover of the Reserve are ruling of the dark softwood forests with wood stand of Siberian species: spruce, fir, cedar. In the lower tiers of the forest undergrown forests and in the above-soil cover there are both European and Siberian species. Specific features of the plant cover is also stipulated by the availability of big Ural mountain system with clearly visible altitude belts. The lay-out of the geobotanical splitting into districts incorporates the areas:
I. The area of pine frests and sphagnum swamps of the Pechora low land (complete territory of the Yaksha district):
II. The area of dark soft wood forests of the steeply sloping piedmont sub-area of swampy dark softwood forests and sphagnum swamps of Verhneilych low land (the territory of the Ural area until western slopes of the main mountain range of the Northern Ural, excluding transition stripe);
III. The area of mountain dark softwood forests, subalpine crooked forests and meadows, mountain tundra and bare-boulders of the Northern Ural (western sloped, mountain chains, valleys and separate peaks of the Uran range of mountains)/
Nowadays the Reserve counts 113 plant species from the Red Data Book of the Komi Republic.
In 2012 15 cenopopulations of 7 rare plant species were studied: .Adonis sibirica Patrin ex Ledeb., Calipso bulbosa (L.) Oakes, Epipactis atrorubeas (Hoffm. ex Bernh.) Besser, Platanthera bifolia (L.) Rich., Paeonia anomala L., Polypodium vulgare L., Puisatilla patens (L.) Mill.
The fauna of vertebrates of the National Park includes representatives of fish (21 species), amphibia (3 species), reptilian (1 specie), birds (around 200 species) and mammals (42 species). Many of them are the most precious properties of the world fauna. Into the Red Data Book of Russia are entered bullhead, red-breasted goose, fish-hawk, golden eagle, white-tailed eagle, gerfalcon, peregrin (duck hawk), black stork, common crane etc.
Specific feature of the fauna of the region is big share of the Siberian species, many of them have here the western boundary of the aerial.
Species diversity of the animal world of the reserve territory and conservation territory in relation to the different endemic taxa is studied unevenly. Sufficient complete inventory fauna reports are available only for water and ground vertebral.
Thomas Brockhaus, a German entomologist, visited Pechoro-Ilychsky reserve from July 29 till August 5, 2012. During his trip on the Pechora River (Shaytanovka cordon) he noted 15 species of dragonflies, whereof two species (Somatochlora graeseri, S. pedemontanum) turned to be new for the Reserve and the Republic of Komi.
Absolutely different place in the diversity of the animal communities of the western slopes of the Northern and the Sub-Polar Urals takes the world of fishes. The fish populations of the National Park as far as it is known, accounts for 21 species out of eleven communities.
Ichthyofauna of the Reserve is relatively poor, that is related to the hydrological specific features of the territory: mountain character of the majority of the rivers and small amount of accompanying water bodies. In its content enter the representatives of the round-mouthed fishes - 1 specie, and the fish, 17 species that makes around 53% of the species diversity of fish of the complete Pechora river basin.
In the fauna of the Yugyd va National Park are known around 200 species of birds. Out of them, despite of severe ecological surrounding, nest about 150. Some representative of feathered, in majority water fowl and sandpiper, inhabit the area of tundra, can be met also within the boundaries of the park only during autumn and spring migration.
Bird fauna of the Yugyd va National Park presents the composite mix of Siberian taiga species. European and Arctic and Alpine species migrating from the plain tundra and also birds, widely spread in the European part of Russia.
Avifauna of the conservation area includes 252 species of birds of 18 orders, 50 families which makes 96% of the total number of species recorded within the entire Komi Republic. The species include 170 breeding species (67%), 30 seasonal transient birds (12%), 52 vagrant species (21%). The widest range of species have the Passeriformes (107 species), Charadriiformes (40), Anseriformes (30) and Falconiformes (20): the rest classes are presented by 1 to 8 species.
Avifauna is compositionally heterogenic, Siberian bird species prevail (heather cock, hazelhen, Blyth's cuckoo, three-toed woodpecker etc), typically European species are almost twice less in number (chaffinch, warbler, swift, corncrake etc), some species are of arctic ptarmigan, common dotterel, Eurasian golden plover etc) and Chinese (greenish warbler, red-backed shrike, oriental tree pipit) oriuin.
Most of breeding birds (77%) are migrating. The highest diversity of species, summer bird numbers and biomass are peculiar to forest hank line habitats, subalpine belt and some pattern bogs. Common and the most numerous species of forest communities are: chaffinch, finch, tree-pipit, thrushes – snowbird, red-winged thrush and song thrush, chiff-chaffs - willow-warbler and arctic warbler, European redstart, buntings - rustic-bunting and little bunting, common and Blyth's cuckoos. The dominating species of wetland birds are: fiddler, grey gull, greenshank, snipe, whimbrel, mew gull, common teal, bullhead, and goosander. The typical representative of mountain tundra is meadow pipit, and this is the unique place for common dotterel, Eurasian golden plover and ptarmigan nesting.
The following breeding birds are included in the lists of Red Data Book of the Russian Federation: erne, osprey and golden eagle; transient birds: peregrine and brant goose. Erne, double snipe and corncrake are on the international list of globally rare species. 29 bird species of the reserve are listed among rare and requiring protection on the territory of Komi Republic. 26 species of birds nesting in the conservation are on the list of Red Data Book of Komi Republic:
Category I (endangered) - honey buzzard, quail.
Category II (shortening the numerosity) - osprey, erne, golden eagle, eagle owl.
Category III (species with small numerosity and restricted distribution) - hooping swan, black kite, kestrel, corncrake, spotted crake, double snipe, hawk-owl, Siberian grey owl, short-eared owl, boreal owl, wryneck.
Category IV (with undefined status) — common pochard, jack snipe, pintail snipe, dove, pygmy owl.
Category V (recovering species) - merlin, common woodcock, curlew, whimbrel.
The territory of the National Park is unique from the point of view of theriology, where European and Siberian faunas come together. The territory of the Park is inhabited by 42 species of the mammals.
Out of 52 species of the mammals registered in the territory of the Reserve the biggest one is the order of predators, 17 species (33%), related to the 4 families. Then are the rodents, 16 species, 6 families; insect-eating mammals - 8 species, 2 families; hoofed mammals, 4 species, 2 families; cheiropterous (Chiroptera) animals, 5 species, 1 family; double-toothed rodents - 2 species and 2 families.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
The territory is characterized by a high conservation of unique natural complexes, ecosystems, plant and animal communities developing evolutionarily without a considerable human input, availability of sites of outstanding aesthetic value, sites of ongoing geological history, archaeological monuments enabling to refer it to the models of nature.
From aesthetic point of view the territory of the property combines the main aesthetic factors. It comprises the most picturesque and the highest groups of the Ural mountains, distinguished in the north by typical alpine relief and sharp peaks, picturesque rocky areas of mountain risers. The property is specificated by glacial and karst relief: numerous mountain lakes, glaciers, snowfields and waterfalls, as well as weathering forms - rock pillars and grottos. The main peculiarity of landscapes is undisturbed virgin forests of the property. Principles of traditional sustainable use of natural resources are maintained to the present day on the territory of the property shaping an outstanding cultural value of the territory.
In terms of reflecting the main stages of history of the Earth, the property possesses diverse geomorphological peculiarities of relief with ongoing geological history and numerous archaeological monuments.
Outstanding biodiversity of the property is defined by the single, undisturbed by wood cutting and unfragmented area of boreal taiga, which communities have been developing evolutionarily. The forest area of such a size fulfils a wide range of ecosystem functions: conservation of biological and landscape diversity, climate control, hydrological and soil-forming functions. A decisive influence on diversity of natural zones, appearance of plants is exercised by meridian mountain chains of the Ural ridge, altitudinal zonality, against this background invasion of Siberian and European floras contribute to biodiversity of the property. Rock outcrops along the river banks and mountain tundra are the habitats of endemic, relict, rare and endangered plants and animals. Virgin forests are comfortable habitats for big predators and hoofed mammals and able to become a model for studies and modelling (restoration) of primary ecosystems of boreal forests.
The joint UNESCO/IAUCN mission was conducted from 3-11 October 2010 as per Decision 34 COM 7B.25 of the World Heritage Committee for monitoring of the World Heritage Property “Virgin Komi Forests”. The mission was composed of the specialist of UNESCO World Heritage Centre, IUCN expert Mania Zupancic-Vicar and Mariam Kenza Ali from IUCN Secretariat, representatives of different stakeholders and public environmental organizations.
One-day flight over the territory enabled to shape an idea of the southern part of the “Yugyd Va” National Park, forest area located between the park and Pechoro-llychsky Reserve. The mission had a chance to look at the forests up the Ilych River separating the National Park from the Reserve. This territory was a part of the previous nomination of the property "Virgin Komi Forests", but was excluded from the inscription as it had no conservation status. During the flight the participants of the missions noted that the area consisted of intact primary forests with no signs of human disturbance. The mission strongly recommended to include that area in the "Yugyd Va" National Park or Pechoro-llychsky State Nature Biosphere Reserve. It will combine two properties, increase total integrity and add a considerable area of virgin boreal forests.
As per conclusions of the joint mission the present nomination contains the territory with areas mentioned above.
Criterion (vii): Territory of the property is of outstanding importance from aesthetic point of view which was at various times noted by the Urals researches starting from XVIII century.
Consistent evaluations of "landscape diversity- of "Virgin Komi Forests-modern territory undertaken during the USSR times which revealed that it combined all major landscape forming factors, brought into line with landscapes of the Causases, Baikal and Kamchatka.
The most picturesque parts of "Virgin Komi Forests" are landscapes of the Telpossky, Sablinsky, Nepristupniy mountain ranges, the outskirts of the Issledovatelsky range - massifs Lapapay and Kursomby, mountain groups of Manaraga, Narodnaya, Lyaga-Chugra, Shezhymiz, Tumbik, Mansiyskie Bolvany, ranges Man'pupuner and Yanypupuner, granite massifs Makariz and Turyn’yaner etc.
Particulary scenic are canyon-like rocky areas or the rivers Kozhim, Shchugor, Podcherem, B. Synya; the above rivers of the property are rich in rapids and riffles of distinguished beauty. The Pechora and Ilych rivers and their floodplain lakes also to the full extent prove the beauty of the Ural foothills.
The aesthetic important of the property is completed by the glacier relief forms: numerous mountain lakes, glaciers, snow patches and waterfalls: e.g. the property "Virgin Komi Forests” displays 800 lakes, the most picturesque of them are those of glacier origin: the largest ones are Torgovoe, Dlinnoe, Okunevye.
38 glaciers add to the beauty of mountain landscape, the biggest ones are glaciers Mansi and Gofman (the area 0,75 and 0,37 km2 respectively) situated on the range Sablya, manifold cirque lakes as well as snow patches.
Outstanding uniqueness, richness and special value are added to the landscapes by the undisturbed virgin forest massifs stretching through the space of river-valleys, western slopes of the Urals, foothills and Pechora lowland.
Separate sites have become symbols of the property "Virgin Komi Forests": e.g. the highest peak of the Urats - mount Narodnaya and mount Managara as well as unique rock pillars and caves.
The Ural North has attracted tourists from the whole Soviet Union since the 1930s. One of the major reasons of interest towards this area is the exceptional beauty of landscapes, praised severe glory of the White Urals in combination with mysteries and legends stipulated by insufficient state of exploration of the region and the untouched forest massifs.
Criterion (viii): The property is an outstanding example of major stages of earth's history being available for on-going geological processes, is noted for diversity of geomorphic features of the relief and includes numerous archaeological monuments.
The history of the Urals developments determined existence of two complexes (structural stages) in the geology aspects of infolded structures. The lower complex (stage) is represented by doorvick stratums. Stones of this stage include various gneisses and crystalline schists of Archean. In sonic places one can find metamorphic cleaving stones, quartz rocks and crystalline limestone of Lower Proterozoic era. Above these stratums Riphean (Upper-Proterozoic) deposits are disposed.
In conditions of practically untouched nature various natural processes take place - of both abiotic (glacial, erosion, the processes of channel ways development by the rivers), and biotic character (organic enrichment of lowland and tundra lakes, succession - primary and secondary etc). Development of layout of mountain slopes and riser valleys is ongoing – under the influence of erosion, corrosion, soli and other landscape-forming factors. The overallpicture is completed by the eternal-frost layer, thermokarst and other phenomena peculiar only for the northern areas. The mountainous relief strengthens the severity of climate, adding more specific nature to development of natural complexes. The most characteristic part on the territory of the Park is the glacial valleys of headwaters of the river Kozhim and its fluxes.
The following geological, geomorphic, paleontological and other natural monuments can he distinguished on the nominated property:
- Logs-stratotypes (Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian (the river Kozhim), Carbon (the rivers Bol. Synya, Kozhim, Shchunor), Permian (the rivers Bol. Synya, Podcherem), Triassic (the river Bol. Synya);
- Outcroppings which show important details of geological structure of the Urals;
- The monuments of activity of tectonic processes - well-defined lines of tectonic dislocations, polished surfaces of faulting sheets etc. (The Sablinsky Range, mountain groups of the mount Narodnaya, mount Karpinskogo and others);
- The monuments of activity of exogenic processes - corrosion, wash-out, erosion, results of resorption processes of karsting rocks: "stone cities", caves and grottos (e.g. Grottos of the river Balban'yu, lordansky Narrow and others), rock pillars, for example on Man'pupuner, Torreporeiz table land.In2008 rock pillars were announced one of 7 Wonders of Russia;
- Mineralogical monuments - locations of rare minerals (mount Yuma, environs of Neroyka mount), somewhere metamorphic cleaving stones, quartz rocks and crystalline limestone of Lower Proterozoic era can be found. Above these stratums Riphean (Upper-Proterozoic) deposits are disposed;
- Paleontologic monuments - locations of fauna and flora fossils (lower stream of the river Kozhim, middle stream of the river Podcherie. Medvezhiya, Tufovaya, Ledyanaya caves and others):
- Mountain peaks and mountain groups having largest heights or located singularly;
- Examples of glacier relief - glaciers and snow patches, glacial clays, cryosolic outputs;
- Hydrological monuments (mountain lakes, waterfalls, canyons, spring brooks, underground sources of mineral and fresh waters):
In the nominated territory there are numerous archaeological monuments including three monuments of the Kozhim River with remains of settlements IV-III millennium B.C. and around II- I millennium B.C., ancient sanctums ("Arch” grotto, Erkusey, Valley of ancestors, Kaninskaya and Unyinskaya caves). The collection of metal objects of the famous Podcheremsky treasure from the early Middle ages is among the unique.
Criterion (ix): The nominated territory is highlighted by the World Wildlife Fund as one of the Global-200 ecological regions capable of preserving 90-95% of biodiversity of the planet.
The exclusive biodiversity of the territory is preserved under integrity of original boreal forests growing on the border of the Pechora Lowland and western macroslopes of the Northern and Sub-Polar Urals.
In conditions of practically intact nature various natural processes take place, both abiotic (glacial, erosion, river bed formation processes) and biotic ones (eutrophication of valley and tundra lakes, succession - primary and secondary etc.). Mountain slopesand river valleys continue to be shaped under the influence of erosion, weathering, solifluction and other landscape factors.
Biodiversity along with integrity of the territory are determined by the change of latitudinal belts of the property from the middle and northern taiga to forest tundra, as well as distinct altitudinal zonality from light coniferous forests in the western part of the property to mountain dark coniferous forests, crooked forests, meadows, mountain tundra and bald mountains in the east of the property.
The Ural watershed is a convergence of Western (European) and eastern (Siberian) species. Contact zone of the European and the Siberian floras enriches the territory with a unique combination of Siberian and European species of plants. 20% of which are considered to be rare (yellow lady's and blotched slipper, alpine woodsia, rogue peony, snowdon rose, etc.), endemic (Taliev's thyme, mountain anemone, Ural chalk plant, northern flax, etc.), as well as growing in isolated populations detached from the main range with abundance of rock outcrops, mountain
tundra and microslopes contributing to this. Totally the floristic list of the property includes more than 600 species of plants.
Overlapping of population ranges of European and Asian species enables to clearly trace a variety of fundamental natural regularities and phenomena and to study the pace of natural processes.
Lack of fragmentation of virgin forests of the property creates a comfortable habitat for big predators and hoofed mammals including population of wild reindeers, as well as provides conditions for nesting of rare carnivorous birds, in particular, white-tailed eagle, fish-hawk, eagle owl and golden eagle. In the territory there are more than 40 species of mammals and around 200 species of birds (making 90% of theriofauna and 88% o of avifauna of the European north-eastern part of Russia).
Mountain tectonic denudation relief is of steady moderate rise. The main part of the area has an alpine relief, the remaining part — mid-mountain, ridged and steeply-sloping subdued relief of watersheds.
Ridged and steeply-sloping subdued ancient (neogene) relief of watersheds is characterized by active formation of bald mountains and significant residual and talus deposits.
At undulating plains of subearial denudation (up to 800-1000 m in elevation and 300-700 in wide) soliflucation terraces are located (bench height 0.7-5 m) with platforms first tens of meters wide and soliflucation banks (2-5 in high and 8-10 m wide) up to 150-200 m long. Stone polygons (dia 1,5 - 2 m) and medallion spots are noticed on terraces. At plains of subearial denudation exhumed dikes are observed, as well as erratic well-rounded boulders of gabbro-diabases on Losiny and Kursambay Ridges.
Criterion (x): The nominated territory includes natural areas which are more important and significant in terms of conservation of biodiversity, in particular, habitats of the endangered species being of outstanding word value in terms of science and nature protection.
In the territory of the reserve 113 species of plants included in the Red Data Book of the Komi Republic and 4 species included in the Red Data Book of Russia are registered.
The reserve was organized for the purpose of restoration of high-value commercial species of sables (Tobolsk subspecies). Currently their density in the reserve amounts to 4 species per 10000 ha and they are actively dispersed in the areas adjacent to the reserve.
The mountainous and plain areas of the reserve are the home of wild forest reindeers protected by the Komi Republic. They amount to 500 species.
A wide range of birds in the reserve has an official status of rare species. In the federal Red Book the following species are included: breeding - white-tailed eagle, fish-hawk and golden eagle: transient - pererine falcon and red-breasted goose. White-tailed eagle, double snipe and crake are included in the international list of globally endangered species. 29 species of birds in the reserve are on the list of endangered species needed to be protected in the territory of the Komi Republic. The list of species of the Red Data Book of the Komi Republic approved by the Department of environment and natural resources protection of the Komi Republic in 1997 covers 26 species of birds breeding in the reserve:
I category (threatened species) - honey buzzard, quail.
II category (reducing population) - fish-hawk, white-tailed eagle, golden eagle, eagle owl.
III category (species with small population and limited distribution) - whooper swan, black kite, kestrel, crake, spotted crake, double snipe, hawk owl, Siberial gray owl, marsh owl, boreal owl, wryneck.
IV category (undefined status) - pochard, jack snipe, pintail snipe, turtledove, pygmy owl.
V category (species under restoration) - pigeon hawk, woodcock, curlew, whimbrel.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
Virgin nature of the property "Virgin Komi Forests” is expressed in endless space of taiga and forest tundra which have never been exposed to cutting. The total area of the territory is more than 34 thou km2. Plant communities in virgin forests developed and interacted evolutionarily, forest fires, winds and relief peculiarities participated in that process. In this respect "Virgin Komi Forests" is the property of outstanding integrity.
Primary (virgin) forests and mountain areas of the "Yugyd va" National Park and Pechoro-llychsky state nature biosphere reserve represent a unique natural complex developed without human input, the main components of which are interconnected by the similarity of origin, historical fate, dynamics of natural development, reflect a variety of important natural regularities and phenomena and fix the pace of natural and cultural processes.
Virgin Komi Forests are characterized by a high conservation of unique natural complexes, great concentration of rare and high-value animals, plants, in particular, those included in the international, Russian and regional Red Data Books.
The nominated territory includes all elements required for support of its qualitative and aesthetic characteristics for a long time. All natural components are interconnected and unified by the unique complex of virgin ecosystems spread along the Main Ural Ridge, the last from the remaining ones in Europe. The most part of geological processes is reflected in the natural monuments of the park representing the main geomorphological peculiarities of the relief.
Comparison with other similar properties
Location analysis of the World Natural Heritage sites shows that in the western Palearctic (biogeographic kingdoms according to M. Udvardi's classifier (1975) similar primary ecosystems of this magnitude and conservation don't exist and adding of the property in the World Natural Heritage List fills up this gap.
If we broaden analysis to the whole Palearctic, only at the World Natural Heritage site the Putorana Plateau there are substantial areas of taiga, forest tundra, mountain tundra and bald mountains, as well as this property is located on the border of habitats of west-Siberian and east-Siberian species showing similarities between thePutorana Plateau and Komi Virgin Forests, but not their identity.
Analysis of World Natural Heritage sites on bionics level brings to conclusion that similar sites of boreal forests are spread except for Russia also in Canada and the USA (Alaska), however, in America they are presented in the World Natural Heritage Lists in the form of fragments, on the borders of these two countries they are fragmented by human activities. Unified massif of virgin boreal forests of equal quality survived only in Canada.
Taking into account that less than 3% of boreal forests grow in Europe, and European Russia possesses more than 90% of this quantity of boreal forests, the value of virgin Komi forests for conservation of biodiversity, study of natural processes and probably for modelling and restoration of similar damaged biomes is difficult to overestimate.
World Natural Heritage sites with virgin forests
Name of property and its
Short description and
Nominated property "Virgin
The last and the largest in
Europe massif of primary
(virgin) boreal forests, developed without human input
With exclusive aesthetic
qualities of landscapes
Exclusive biodiversity: more
than 40 species of mammals, around 200 species of birds
(including those from Red
Books), more than 600
Species of plants (of which
20% are rare) and 21 fish
The Putorana Plateau, Russia
1 unique rise of the Central
Siberian Plateau with original hydrographic network of high aesthetic value, areas of virgin ecosystems
Ilii.th biodiversity: 569 species of vascular plants (including 7 endemics), 34 species of
mammals, 140 species of
birds and 25 fish species
International Peace Park, the USA — Canada
Exclusive biodiversity of flora
and mammals, as well as
(mountains and glaciers), areas of virgin forests
around 1000 species of
vascular plants (including
179 rare species and 20
endemics), 60 species of
mammals, 50 species and birds and 24 fish species
Volcanoes of Kamchatka,
The main volcanic landscapes
of Kamchatka, exclusive aesthetic qualities of landscapes, areas of virgin forests
Exclusive biodiversity: 33
Species of mammals, 145 species of birds, many plant species included in the lists of Red Books, in particular, 16 endemics, high biodiversity of salmon fishes
Extraordinary beauty of landscapes of virgin Komi forests is one-of-a-kind, although observers draw an analogy with the Alpes (the Pechora Alps). However combination of mountain landscapes with northern plant complexes against their integrity allows us to speak of no analogues of the property worldwide.