The Sikhote Alin National Natural Biosphere Sanctuary (area of territory
390,184 ha, area of water body 2.9 thousand hectares) is situated in the
northern part of Primorye (Ternei and Krasnoarmeisk Districts) to include
the eastern slope of Sikhote Alin range from its watershed (maximum altutude
within the Sanctuary 1,598 m above sea level) to the coastline (including
the littoral 1 km-wide zone) and also part of ridge western slope.
The initial purpose of creating the Sanctuary was to preserve and restore the then almost exterminated sable. V. K. Arseniev, well-known explorer of the region, initiated its founding, and K. G. Abramov and Yu. A. Salmin grounded the need for its organization.
Today, when there are increasingly fewer untouched corners of nature on Earth, it would be highly important to have a preserve site in every geographic zone—a sample of originsal landscape that would serve to assess the consequences of man’s economic activity. This task has been imposed on biosphere sanctuaries. The UNESCO 1979 Forum conferred this high status on Sikhote Alin. In respect to its considerable area and relatively little disturbed natural complexes and remoteness from industrial centers and farming territories, the Sikhote Alin Sanctuary is unequalled in the Russian Far East.
The abundance and diversity of Sikhote Alin’s ecosystems are caused by the fact that its territory includes both slopes of Sikhote Alin ridge, which differ in natural conditions and altitude gradients determining vertical zoning. Equally important is the availability of direct access to the sea. The Sanctuary includes parts of three landscape districts: Ternei District (with its cedar-broadleaf forests), Samargino-Dalnegorsk District (in the subzone ofboroadleaf-conifer forests) and Middle Sikhote Alin District (spruce-fur forests) in the taiga subzone. The Sanctuary experiences a strong impact of “Okhotsk” flora and fauna: dark conifer taiga communities are represented so broadly and fully as in no other Sanctuary of Primorye. At the same time, it also has conditions for development of ecosystems of “Manchurian” appearance. Characteristic of Sikhote Alin flora and fauna is the combination of warm- and cold-loving natural complexes with numerous endemic Manchurian species together with cold-loving Okhotsk and subtropical species.
Over 1,100 vascular plant species grow here, including 38 rare and disappearing species (cuspidate yew, tall Schisandra, rhododendron Fauri, genuine Cyprepedium). Sikhote Alin is also the home of sixty-three terrestrial mammals, among them the
Red Book Amur tiger (21-29 specimens), the mountain goat (about 150 specimens), the spotted deer (100-120 specimens), and the Himalayan bear. Three hundred and forty-two bird species have been registered here along with eight reptiles, five amphibian, and thirty-two fresh-water fish species. Conservation of fauna and flora on two sea water sites is of paramount significance.
Monitoring the taxonomic and ecocenotic diversity of surface vegetation of Sikhote Alin Biosphere Sanctuary
Yu. BERSENEV, Expert, Primorye Territorial Duma.