Oksky or Oka Nature Reserve, Russia


Description of Oksky or Oka Nature Reserve

Oksky or Oka Nature Reserve is a biosphere reserve in Russia. The reserve is located in Spassky, Klepikovsky and Kasimovsky districts of the Ryazan region in the southeastern part of the Meshchersky lowland. The main part of the reserve is located on the left bank of the river Pra. The reserve also includes the rivers Lamsha and Black. The site of the widest floodplain of the Oka abounding in floodplain lakes, included in the protected zone of the reserve. The central manor of the reserve is located in the village of Brykin Bor.

Borders of the Oka Reserve with the allocation of zones
The reserve area is 56 027 ha, including:
forest - 50 461.5 ha,
marshes - 2,539.5 ha,
open and dry lands - 2,089.4 ha,
lakes and rivers - 637.6 ha.
Around the reserve there is a security zone of 23,669 hectares.

Since September 13, 1994, the “Floodplain sections of the Pra and the Oka rivers” of the reserve have the status of wetlands of international importance. 06/24/1986. The Oka Reserve is recognized by the World Network of UNESCO "Man and the Biosphere" (MAB) to meet the requirements for biosphere reserves. In 2000, the reserve is classified as a key ornithological territory of international importance.

The reserve is characterized by a temperate continental climate. The average annual air temperature is 4.2 °. The average annual rainfall is 534 mm.


As a strict nature reserve, the Oka Reserve is mostly closed to the general public, although scientists and those with 'environmental education' purposes can make arrangements with park management for visits. Tourists are welcome in Birkin forest buffer area. There are also a number of 'ecotourist' routes open to the public; these require permits to be obtained in advance. The local office is in the village of Birkin Bor.



The Oksky State Reserve was established on February 10, 1935. In May 1939, the area of the reserve was significantly increased, after which it was repeatedly changed.

One of the main activities of the reserve is an in-depth study of individual species of animals. Since the first years of the existence of the reserve, a lot of work has been carried out to study and protect the rarest animal of our fauna - the muskrat. Methods for its quantitative accounting have been developed and the reasons for the reduction in numbers have been clarified; recommendations for the restoration of the livestock of this species are given.

In 1937-1940, the beaver was reacclimatized, completely destroyed in the Ryazan region at the beginning of the last century. By 1950, beavers had mastered the entire territory of the reserve and settled far beyond its borders, more than 500 Oka beavers were captured and taken to other regions of Russia. Currently, there are more than 500 beavers on the territory of the core of the reserve, the northern biosphere test site and the buffer zone.

Thanks to the status of the reserve, the number of the original inhabitant of the Meshchera forests, the elk, has been restored. In the first years of formation in the territory of the reserve, there were no more than 10 animals (0.5 animals per 1000 hectares), now its density reaches 10-17 animals per 1000 hectares.

In 1959, a nursery of purebred Caucasian-Belovezhskaya bison was created on the territory of the Lakashinsky forestry, which later became part of the reserve's biospheric range. For the formation of breeding groups in the nursery in 1959-1962, 1967 and 1972-1991. 19 bison were imported (8 males and 11 females). For the period from 1960 to 1994. the offspring was obtained in the amount of 295 copies, of which 76.2% were successfully grown, 20 animals were culled, 167 were exported. Five bison were sent to Romania.

The nursery of rare species of cranes was organized as part of the Oksky Nature Reserve in 1979 and was an integral part of the Soviet-American program for the restoration of the fading population of the Russian endemic Siberian Crane. The first director of the crane nursery was Candidate of Biological Sciences V. G. Panchenko. Thanks to Panchenko, the nursery acquired its modern look - he organized a crane hatchery, aviaries for the breeding stock of cranes. Under Panchenko V.G., cranes began to be artificially inseminated and a large number of chicks were obtained, which were reintroduced back into nature. The study of biology, behavior, keeping, breeding, rehabilitation and veterinary science of cranes, along with the construction and operation of the crane nursery, became a great merit of Panchenko V.G. in the conservation of cranes in Russia. During the operation of the nursery, more than 200 birds have been obtained and grown.

In 1985, the reserve was given the status of a biosphere reserve.

In 1995, the reserve was awarded a category "A" diploma of the Council of Europe.

In 2010, the Ryazansky State Nature Reserve of federal significance was attached to the reserve, as an independent unit.



The experimental principle has always been expressed in the activities of the Oksky Reserve. The Central Ornithological Station, organized in 1956, developed methods for the mass marking of birds, accounting for their numbers and prey, and studied migration. A special group of biological surveys has done a lot to improve the methods of counting game animals and determining their resources. In the nursery of the Bialowieza-Caucasian bison, they study the biology and problems of restoring the population of these animals. In recent years, the crane nursery has been vigorous, the task of which is to develop methods for the conservation and increase in the number of rare species of crane. In the 1980s, research was carried out in collaboration with American ornithologists.

The reserve closely cooperates with many research and higher educational institutions, scientists and promoters of environmental knowledge. One of the zoologists, a specialist in birds of prey, professor at Moscow State Pedagogical University, doctor of science Galushin Vladimir Mikhailovich. For several decades, he brought students from the Moscow State Pedagogical University (formerly the Moscow State Pedagogical Institute named after Lenin) to field practice in protected areas.

Currently, the Institute of Ecology and Evolution named after A.N. Severtsov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Biology of Inland Waters named after A.N. I. D. Papanina RAS, Moscow State University named after M. V. Lomonosov, Voronezh State University, Ryazan State University and many other organizations. In 2009, a rehabilitation center (Bird Shelter) was organized in the buffer zone of the reserve under the direction of Ph.D. n Romanova V.V. on the release into nature of wild animals in trouble.

In general, the main scientific task of the Oksky Reserve is to study the natural course of processes in the unique natural complex of Meshchera, which is gradually losing ground under the pressure of not always reasonable human activity, and to preserve its unique appearance, so impressively sung by K. G. Paustovsky.


Flora and fauna

Of the forests, pine forests with birch and an admixture of broad-leaved species predominate. Oka forests are common in the floodplains of the Oka and Pra. In the center of the reserve is a vast Babi swamp. The flora includes over eight hundred species of flowering and vascular spore plants, among them 69 rare and 5 endangered, including 10 orchid species. There is also a relict center of water chestnut - chilim, in which 11 species were found. One type of chilim is endemic. There is a relic water fern - Salvinia floating. Coastal and aquatic vegetation is well developed.

266 species of birds have been registered on the territory of the reserve, including: (capercaillie, hazel grouse, black grouse, gray crane, black stork, gray heron, great and little bittern, oystercatcher, common kingfisher, golden bee-eater, white-tailed eagle, osprey, woodcock , black kite, buzzard). Over 150 species nest in the reserve. Feathered inhabitants of swamps and reservoirs are ducks (mainly mallards and teals), geese, various sandpipers (including great snipe and snipe), gulls, terns, herons, cranes, shepherds. Thousands of flocks of migratory waterfowl stop at the Oka spills. The black stork, osprey, white-tailed eagle, black kite, goshawk are rare and now protected birds that nest in the reserve.

On the territory of the Oksky Reserve in 1979, a nursery of rare species of cranes was organized, including the endangered Siberian Crane. The collection of Siberian Cranes was formed by receiving specimens from nature or by obtaining them from breeding centers. Grown up chicks are released into nature in the habitats of the species, a small part of them remain in the nursery or go to the Cranes Breeding and Conservation Centers.

There are 61 species of mammals in the reserve: (elk, wild boar, European roe deer, fox, common beaver, European mink, otter, ermine, marten, raccoon dog, muskrat, squirrel, bats). In the fauna of the reserve there are 39 species of fish: (perch, pike, crucian carp, ide, roach, silver bream, bream, etc.), 11 - amphibians, 6 - reptiles.

The fauna of amphibians (amphibians) has 10 species, reptiles (reptiles) - 5.

The richness of the fauna of the reserve is due to the diversity and alternation of landscapes and types of vegetation. There are many bats, mouse-like rodents, hares, predatory animals, elks. The beaver is acclimatized, densely populating the reservoirs of the reserve and its environs. The muskrat, the raccoon dog and the wild boar have spread from neighboring territories and have taken root at housewarming. Particular attention is paid to the protection and study of the desman, for the sake of which the reserve was created.