Caucasian Biosphere Reserve, Russia

Caucasian Biosphere Reserve is a state natural reserve. The full name is the Kh. G. Shaposhnikov Caucasian State Natural Biosphere Reserve. The largest in territory and the oldest, specially protected natural area in the North Caucasus. Located within three subjects of the Russian Federation - Krasnodar Territory, the Republic of Adygea and the Karachay-Cherkess Republic.

Caucasian Biosphere Reserve is the legal successor of the Caucasian bison reserve, established on May 12, 1924, located in the Western Caucasus, on the border of the temperate and subtropical climatic zones. It is the largest mountain forest reserve in Europe. The total area of ​​the reserve is more than 280 thousand hectares, of which 177.3 thousand hectares are in the Krasnodar Territory.

On February 19, 1979, by the decision of UNESCO, the Caucasian Reserve was given the status of a biosphere reserve, and in January 2008 it was named after Kh. G. Shaposhnikov.

In 1999, the territory of the Caucasian State Natural Biosphere Reserve, together with a number of other nature conservation objects with an area of ​​about 19 thousand hectares in the Krasnodar Territory and the Republic of Adygea, called the Western Caucasus, was included in the World Heritage List.


History of creation

Kuban hunting
In 1888, on behalf of the Grand Dukes Peter Nikolaevich and Georgy Mikhailovich, about 480 thousand acres of land in the region of the Greater Caucasus Range were leased from the forest dachas of the Ministry of State Property and the Kuban Regional Military Administration. An agreement was concluded with the Kuban Rada for the exclusive right to hunt in these territories for the grand dukes. Later the territory became known as the Grand Duke Kuban Hunt.

A few years later, the princes stopped traveling to the Kuban for health reasons, and then in 1892 handed over the right to hunt to Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich, who took up active development of the territory.

Bison reserve
In 1906, the expiring lease term for the territory of the Kuban hunting was extended for another three years, after which it was planned to divide these lands between the villages of the Kuban Cossacks. In 1909, Kh. G. Shaposhnikov, who worked as a forester of the Belorechensky forestry of the Kuban Army, sent a letter to the Russian Academy of Sciences substantiating the need to reserve the territory leased from the Kuban Army. The main reason for the creation of the reserve was the protection of the endangered Caucasian bison. The letter also outlined the boundaries of the reserve. On the basis of this letter, Academician N.V. Nasonov made a report, and the Academy of Sciences created a commission. As a military forester, Shaposhnikov participated in her work on organizing the reserve. However, for a number of reasons related to the division of the land by the Kuban Cossacks, the matter did not advance significantly.

Repeated attempts to create the reserve were made in 1913 and 1916. Finally, in 1919, a positive decision was made.

With the establishment of Soviet power in the region, the question of the reserve had to be resolved anew. Only in May 1924, the state Caucasian bison reserve was established.

The reserve is home to 89 species of mammals, 248 - birds, including 112 nesting ones, 15 species of reptiles, 9 - amphibians, 21 - fish, 1 - cyclostomes, more than 100 species of molluscs and about 10,000 species of insects. The exact number of worms, crustaceans, arachnids and many other groups of invertebrates remains unclear.

Undoubtedly, large mammals are the most vulnerable link in natural ecosystems. In the reserve, these are bison, red deer, brown bear, West Caucasian tur, chamois, lynx, roe deer and wild boar. However, a number of small animal species also need urgent conservation measures and detailed study, including the badger, Caucasian mink, otter, etc.

Among birds, representatives of the orders of passerine and falconiformes predominate. The most numerous groups of herpetofauna are real lizards and snakes, in fish - carps.

Large migratory routes of birds pass over the reserve, the most visible flight of buzzards gathering in large flocks.

Many animals of the reserve have a limited distribution (endemics), or are living witnesses of past geological eras (relics). They are especially abundant among invertebrates, as well as fish, amphibians and reptiles.

The endangered species of our planet have found their last refuge in protected natural boundaries. Of the vertebrates of the reserve, 8 species are included in the IUCN Red Data Book, and 25 species are included in the RF Red Data Book. And together with invertebrates, 71 species are included in the state and regional Red Data Books.

The fauna of the reserve is heterogeneous in its origin. Representatives of the Mediterranean, Caucasian, Colchian and European faunas meet here. Endemic and relict species are found in all altitudinal zones of the mountains.

In the reserve lies the western border of the distribution of many high-mountainous Caucasian and forest Colchis species of animals.

The flora of the reserve contains 3000 species, of which more than half are vascular plants. More than 720 species of mushrooms are known in the reserve.

The predominant families are Aster (189 species), Bluegrass (100), Pink (101) Legumes (77). The forest flora includes more than 900 species, some of which are also found in the mountain-meadow belt. The total number of alpine plants exceeds 800 species. Trees and shrubs are 165 species, including 142 deciduous, 16 evergreen deciduous and 7 conifers.

The flora of the reserve is characterized by the presence of ancient species and representatives of limited distribution. Every fifth plant in the reserve is endemic or relict.

Ferns (about 40 species), orchids (more than 30 species), evergreen and wintergreen species, and a large number of ornamental plants give originality to the flora of the reserve. So, of the five species of rhododendrons growing in the Caucasus, three (Pontic, Caucasian and yellow) are found in the reserve.


Almost throughout the entire reserve, single trees and small groups of yew are found. This ancient evergreen coniferous tree can live up to 2-2.5 thousand years, and such patriarchs are not uncommon in the Khosta department of the reserve - the world-famous yew and boxwood grove.

In the subtropical forests of the Khosta and Western divisions, in addition to the yew, there are many ancient representatives of the flora: Colchis boxwood, Colchis holly, Colchis leptopus, Carian figs, St. John's wort and many others. The forests of the reserve differ from northern European forests in the presence of vines. On the southern slope, there are eight types of woody lianas, including Colchis ivy and common ivy, tall sassaparilla, grape-leaved clematis, Greek ovine, fragrant honeysuckle, false Persian nightshade, forest grapes.

The exact number of mushroom species has not been established, but, according to experts, the reserve's microflora includes at least 2,000 species. Among the mushrooms, the subtropical species (double dictyophora, Caesar mushroom), as well as tropical flower mushrooms (red trellis, fusiform flower stalk) are especially distinguished.

Most of the reserve is covered with forest vegetation, and only in the highlands are subalpine and alpine meadows developed. Oak forests, alder forests and subtropical Colchis forests of the foothills above are replaced by beech forests with the participation of hornbeam and chestnut forests. The upper belts of vegetation are formed by dark coniferous fir and spruce forests, light pine forests, park maple forests, crooked forests, subalpine and alpine meadows.

Forest vegetation is very distinctive and subject to changes depending on the macroslope, altitude, exposure, nature of soils and underlying rocks.

In the foothills of the southern macroslope in the Khosta and Zapadnoye forestries, there are unique subtropical polydominant mixed broad-leaved forests with evergreen undergrowth. The slopes of southern exposures up to 800-1200 m above sea level of both macroslopes are occupied by oak forests, formed mainly by rock and Georgian oaks, although 6 more species of oaks participate in the formation of oak forests, Cappadocian maple, birch, high ash, Caucasian hornbeam, etc. River valleys and gorges up to the middle mountains are covered with alder-willow near-channel forests with white willow, gray, black and bearded alders. Oak forests higher on the slopes give way to hornbeam, chestnut and beech forests, and on the northern macroslope - beech and fir-beech forests.

The main forest-forming species in them are relict species: oriental beech, sowing chestnut, Nordmann fir. The upper zones of the forest in the reserve, as a rule, are formed by fir and spruce forests, with the participation of endemic eastern spruce. On rocky and well-warmed areas, hooked pine grows.

Between the forest and mountain-meadow belts, the transitional zone is made up of park maple forests, crooked forests, small forests, shrub formations and rhodorets with areas of subalpine tall grasses. More than 15 species form subalpine tall grasses, the height of individual plants exceeds 3 m. In addition, a kind of rocky talus vegetation develops on the outcrops of rocks, and wetland vegetation develops near waterlogged places, especially in the highlands.

The reserve is a natural repository of a large number of species of plants and animals that have become rare in other parts of the world. The Red Book of Russia includes 55 species of plants growing on the territory of the Caucasian Reserve.

Dozens of plant species inhabiting the countries of the Black Sea and Mediterranean basins are found in Russia only on the southern (Sochi) slope of the reserve and in the Sochi National Park: Rizei snowdrop, spiral twist, Wittmann's peony, Provencal orchis, split larkspur, etc.

Physical and geographical location
The Caucasian State Natural Biosphere Reserve is located on the northern and southern slopes of the Western Caucasus at coordinates 44-44.5 ° north latitude and 40-41 ° east longitude.

Actually, this territory was declared a reserve on May 12, 1924, but the history of preserving the unique natural complex began much earlier, from the moment the Grand Duke “Kuban Hunt” was organized in 1888.

Being the largest protected area of ​​the Caucasian Isthmus and the second largest in Europe, the reserve occupies the lands of the Krasnodar Territory, the Republic of Adygea and the Karachay-Cherkess Republic of Russia, closely adjacent to the border with Abkhazia. Separated from the main territory, in the Khostinsky district of Sochi, there is the subtropical Khostinsky department of the reserve - the world famous yew-boxwood grove with an area of ​​302 hectares. The total area of ​​the reserve is 280 335 hectares. It is surrounded by a protected zone, numerous reserves and natural monuments, and the Sochi National Park adjoins its southern border.


The territory of the reserve is conditionally divided into six protection departments: Western, Northern, Southern, Khostinsky, Eastern and South-Eastern. The management of the reserve is located in Sochi (Adler), and in the capital of the Republic of Adygea, Maikop, there is the Adyghe scientific department of the reserve. The reserve employs more than 100 people, structurally included in the scientific, security and environmental education departments.

The Caucasian Reserve has an international benchmark value as an area of ​​untouched nature that has preserved pristine landscapes with unique flora and fauna. It is no accident that in 1979 the reserve received the status of a biosphere reserve and entered the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, and in December 1999 it was included in the list of UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites. In the context of an increasing planetary offensive on nature, the role of the Caucasian Reserve as an untouched area will increase, and one of the main values ​​of this specially protected area in the future will be the containment of negative phenomena associated with an increase in anthropogenic impact. Caucasian Nature Reserve - coordinator in the field of nature protection and conservation of natural biodiversity in the Caucasus region. It is an open-air laboratory for scientific research and environmental monitoring of the natural environment.

The Caucasian Reserve contributes to the normal functioning of a large Russian resort - Sochi. The forests of the reserve are the "lungs" of the resort, giving healing mountain air, and clean mountain rivers, whose sources are located in the protected area, are the basis for water supply not only to Sochi, but also to many settlements of the Krasnodar Territory, the Republic of Adygea and the Karachay-Cherkess Republic.

The territory of the reserve is a group of mountain and alpine ecosystems (absolute elevations above sea level from 640 m to 3346 m) of the Western Caucasus, limited to 36 ° 45'-40 ° 50 'north latitude and 43 ° 30'-44 ° 05' east longitude and characterized by elevations from 260 to 3360 m above sea level. The basis of its relief is the Main Caucasian ridge, which stretches from northwest to southeast. In general, the ridge is asymmetric: with a more extended northern macroslope and a steep short southern one.

11 officially approved routes pass through the reserve, including one of the most popular Soviet tourist routes - route number 30, which today is called "Eco-tourist route 1".

To visit the reserve, you must obtain a pass. The Digital Valley Sochi Foundation announced the creation of a mobile application for purchasing passes to the reserve. The prototype of the application was presented at the all-Russian competition "Digital Breakthrough", the fund continued cooperation with developers after its completion. Later it became known that the application was named

In February 2020, the Nemkin Foundation planned to sign an agreement with the Caucasian Biosphere Reserve and Sochi National Park at the Russian Investment Forum, but the event was postponed due to the threat of the spread of coronavirus.

In addition, guests of the reserve should remember that on its territory of the reserve, tourists are prohibited from damaging the flora and fauna.