Virgin Komi Forests
|UNESCO World Heritage site|
|Location||Ural Mountains, Komi Republic, Russia|
|Criteria||Natural: (vii), (ix)|
|Inscription||1995 (19th Session)|
|Area||2,645,800 ha (10,215 sq mi)|
|Buffer zone||650,000 ha (2,500 sq mi)|
The Virgin Komi Forests belong to the Ural Mountains taiga ecoregion. Dominant tree species include Siberian Spruce, Siberian Fir and Siberian Larch, while the most prominent mammals are the reindeer, the sable, the mink and the hare.
The site corresponds to Russia's Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve and Yugyd Va National Park. Its World Heritage Site status was recognised in 1995, making it the first natural World Heritage site in the country. This recognition brought the site additional funding from abroad and saved it from imminent logging by a French company (HUET Holding). However, conservation threats remain, illegal logging and gold-mining in particular. Deposits of gold in the northern part of the Yugyd-Va National Park were to be mined prior to 1995.
Despite the area's recognition as a World Heritage site, attempts at extracting gold are being actively lobbied by the Head of the Republic and Komi's Ministry of Nature. The regional government's attempts to move the site's borders so as to exclude the gold-rich parts and strip them of their protected status have been ruled out by Komi's Supreme Court.[when?]