Ubsunur Hollow Biosphere Reserve
|Ubsunur Hollow Biosphere Preserve|
|Location||Republic of Tuva, Russia|
|Area||10,688 km2 (4,127 sq mi)|
Ubsunur Hollow Biosphere Preserve is a fragile mountain hollow or depression located on the territorial border of Mongolia and the Republic of Tuva in the Russian Federation among the mountains — Tannu-Ola Mountains, and the Altay Mountains region — part of a combination of raised lands and depressions. Here the world's most northern desert meets the world's most southern tundra zone.
Ubsunur Hollow was nominated for inclusion in Russia's second World Heritage Site (the first being the Virgin Komi Forests) in 1995 as "one of the largest intact watersheds in Central Asia where up to 40,000 unexcavated burial mounds and other archaeological sites can be found from historically famous nomadic tribes such as the Scythians, the Turks and the Huns." The nomination was submitted in conjunction with the Tuva Republic and Mongolia and included 75,000 square kilometres of forest and steppe and associated cultural and natural heritage. Other sites included in this first Russian listing proposal were:
- The Virgin Komi Forests in the Russian Far East (40,000 km2), the principal habitat of endangered species such as the Amur tiger.
- The Volcanoes of Kamchatka (40,000 km2) including unique forests, salmon streams and volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula).
- The sources of the Ob River in the Altai Mountains (65,000 km² of mountain ecosystem) of Siberia.
- Vodlozero National Park (including Lake Vygozero) (10,000 km2), Europe's largest intact wetland and old-growth boreal forest (taiga) ecosystem.
Ubsunur Hollow Reserve (Tuva) was awarded international Biosphere Reserve status in 1998, as a step toward protecting Southern Siberia's wilderness which contain Russia's largest intact tracts of Siberian Pine and Siberian Fir-dominated ecosystems.
The Hollow, located on the border between Mongolia and Russia, is the most fascinating environmental habitat in Central Asia because of the complex ecosystems that mingle here. Its area is 10,688 km2 (4,127 sq mi). The terrain includes glaciers, taiga, desert, alpine tundra, sub alpine meadows, and a vast mountain taiga areas. There are also forested steppes, treeless steppes, semi-arid deserts, and ever shifting sand dunes. It is a beautiful and amazingly diversified natural habitat, producing an interaction of Euro-Siberian and Central Asian-Mongolian plant and animal life. Because of its location on the cusp of the Euro-Siberian and Central Asian-Mongolian terrains, the flora and fauna exhibit a high biodiversity for mid latitudes. Animal species that inhabitant both mountains and tundra such as the irbis (snow leopard), Siberian roe, Altai snow cock flourish here, as well as taiga dwellers such as the maral, lynx and wolverine. Steppe dwellers include the Mongolian lark, demoiselle crane and long tailed Siberian souslik. Desert inhabitants include the bustard and midday gerbil. There are 359 bird species alone. Since the Hollow is a protected area, many species extinct elsewhere are found here.
The population density of the nomadic Tuvan people, cattle breeders living in yurts, is low here. The lack of industry and the reliance of the inhabitants on traditional ways such as nomadic pasturing have little impact on the landscape. Industrial capacities are absent and have allowed the ecosystem to remain relatively pristine.
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