Uvs Nuur Basin, Russia


The Uvs Nuur or Ubsunur Hollow State Natural Biosphere Reserve is located within the Erzinsky, Tes-Khemsky and Mongun-Taiginsky regions of the Republic of Tyva. It was organized in 1993 on five cluster sites, the number of which has now increased to nine, and the total area has been significantly increased. With an initial territory of 39.6 thousand hectares, it occupies 323,198.4 hectares, including cluster plots: Kara-Khol - 122,451 hectares, Khan-Deer - 112,917.4 hectares, Oruku-Shynaa - 28,750 hectares, Ular - 18,000 ha, Mongun-Taiga -15890 ha, Aryskannyg - 15000 ha, Tsugeer-Els - 4900 ha, Ubsu-Nur - 4490 ha, Yamaalyg - 800 ha.

The Ubsunur basin is one of the unique places in Inner Asia, where nature has created an exceptional phenomenon - a kind of “parade of landscapes” characterized by extraordinary diversity. Located on the border of Mongolia and Tuva, enclosed by mountains, with a large salt lake Ubsu-Nur at its bottom and rivers running down to the center from mountain ranges, the Ubsunur basin is an amazing combination of ecosystems representing almost all natural zones of the temperate zone of the Earth and almost three quarters of ecosystem diversity of the extratropical part of Eurasia. This makes it a kind of model of the world - a "small biosphere" that lives according to the same laws as the entire biosphere of the planet.

Imagine a dazzling sun in the boundless blue sky, a desert with high golden dunes approaching the very shores of a blue lake, reed beds that give shelter to thousands of birds, and nearby, a little higher, on the foothill plains, dry steppes filled with the aroma of wormwood with the ringing of mares, with countless gophers, tarbagans, haystacks scurrying among their holes, with caravans of camels stepping sedately past ancient mounds and bizarre rocks scattered across the wide expanses of the plains. Imagine the ridges of mountains that close the horizon, over which there are white clouds, mountain slopes overgrown with light-coniferous larch taiga, in which shy deer live and bears roam, flat peaks covered with a dim carpet of spacious tundra, and even higher - bald mountains and snowy highlands, where they take the beginning of mountain streams and free winds roam.

Perhaps it was here that the old Tuvan legend about the gullible camel was born. He stands at the edge of the taiga and looks for a long time in the steppe for a horse, to which he has loaned his magnificent tail to drive away annoying flies, then he looks into the forest, trying to see more often a deer, to which he has attached his luxurious branched horns for the time of his marriage ... The desert, steppe, taiga with their typical inhabitants coexist here, in the Ubsunur hollow, so close that contacts between them are inevitable. This gives scientists a rare opportunity to study at once almost the entire set of landscapes of various natural zones of the Earth and the transitional territories (ecotones) between them with their characteristic flora and fauna.

In the Uvs Nuur basin, already in ancient times, a special “biospheric” way of life, typical of Central Asia and preserved to this day, based on pasture cattle breeding, was established. For thousands of years, herds of sheep roamed the steppe, and the smoke of the hearths of peaceful nomads rose to the sky. At other times the steppe hummed under the hooves of warlike hordes, and clouds of arrows eclipsed the sun. This land was the scene of great movements of peoples: Scythians, Huns, Turks, Mongols - all left a memory of themselves here. That is why ancient burial grounds, mounds and memorial stones have become an indispensable element of the local landscape.

It is the unique combination of the richest variety of landscapes and countless (mostly unexplored) archaeological sites that allows us to consider the Ubsunur basin as a valuable natural monument, as well as an outstanding monument of historical and cultural significance. To preserve and study it, the Ubsunur International Center for Biosphere Research was established in Kyzyl in 1992 under the auspices of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the government of the Republic of Tyva. At the same time, a common decision was made between Russia (Republic of Tyva) and Mongolia to form an international cluster-type reserve in the basin of Lake Ubsu-Nur. The foundation for the scientific study of the landscapes of the basin was the research that was launched in 1984 by the Soviet-Mongolian (and now international) “Ubsu-Nur Experiment”, in which dozens of scientists from research institutes and universities of the USSR, Mongolia and other countries took part.

Professor V.V. Bugrovsky, who attracted to them significant scientific forces and the attention of a number of leading scientists. Under the leadership of the Vice-President of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Chairman of the Council on Biosphere Problems Academician A.L. Yanshin (1913-1999), meetings of competent specialists - geographers, ecologists, biologists, experts in remote space methods for studying the Earth's surface - repeatedly met to discuss the problems of studying the Uvs Nuur basin.

However, despite the wide public recognition of the relevance of such research, as well as the creation of the Ubsunur International Center in Kyzyl, supported by the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, research was difficult to develop, since they did not have a solid support base in place. Despite the mutual desire of Russia and Mongolia to create an international cluster-type reserve in the Ubsu-Nur lake basin, this was impossible due to the lack of a legal status for such reserves. The Ubsunur Center also did not have the legal basis necessary in this case, there was no material and technical base, no scientific strongholds were built, and the unique landscapes of the basin were not protected. All this hindered the development of research and environmental work. This period of "instability" dragged on for almost 10 years.

A way out was found by Academician E.E. Syroechkovsky, who suggested V.V. Bugrovsky to create an ordinary Russian state natural reserve in the Ubsunur basin, and then transform it into a biosphere reserve (reserve), included in the UNESCO system. At the same time, similar work should be carried out on the Mongolian side. This path practically solved the problem of organizing an international transboundary nature reserve under the auspices of UNESCO. HER. Syroechkovsky, who had extensive experience in organizing state biosphere reserves in Russia, proposed specific ways to solve the problem, and V.V. Bugrovsky and his associates energetically took up its implementation. Comprehensive studies in the Ubsunur depression continued, the results of many of them were published (see references). All the authors of this essay and many other Russian and Mongolian specialists took part in them. In particular, E.E. Syroechkovsky and E.V. Rogacheva, who worked on the territory of Tuva and adjacent regions of Mongolia, starting from the 1960s, repeatedly visited the Ubsunur depression until 1998, continuing to lobby for the creation of the reserve.

By the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation dated January 24, 1993, a state nature reserve with a total area of 39,640 hectares was created on the territory of the Ubsunur Hollow with five separate clusters - Tsugeer-Els, Yamaalyg, Ular, Mongun-Taiga and Aryskannyg. In 1997, the reserve "Ubsunur Hollow" was included in the network of world biosphere reserves and, by the decision of the UNESCO Coordinating Bureau, it was given the status of a biosphere reserve. While preparations were underway for the publication of this volume of the “Reserves of Russia” series, the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation of April 21, 2000 decided to expand the territory of the reserve and allocate four more cluster plots with an area of 283,558.4 hectares. As a result, almost all natural and biological diversity of the unique Ubsunur basin and adjacent mountains is represented by the cluster system of the reserve. In terms of nature, the new areas, like the entire basin, are distinguished by exceptional diversity and richness. Here are ecosystems of swampy meadows and marshes, steppes and deserts, mountain forests and eternal snows, lakes and small rivers.

On the territory of Mongolia in 1994, the reserve "Ubsunur basin" was created, which also has several cluster sites. So, in essence, the Ubsunur hollow is a transboundary protected area, an example of the creation and functioning of an international reserve. Quite timely, an international scientific center was established at the reserve to coordinate comprehensive research. Joint research activities and conservation efforts by scientists, state and public organizations of Russia and Mongolia will certainly contribute to the preservation of the unique landscapes of the basin for present and future generations (Global change and UVS Nuur, 1999). At present, the Ubsunur Hollow Biosphere Reserve is expected to be included in the World Heritage List.

The Uvs Nuur Hollow State Natural Biosphere Reserve has its own symbolism - a flag, a pennant and an emblem. On the flag, the blue stripe symbolizes the sky with the sun and red rays, the green and blue stripes represent the green surface of the Earth and the blue color of the water. The emblem of the reserve is a circle in which the symbol of infinity is depicted, denoting the source of life with opposites “yin” and “yang” and stripes spiraling away from it, reflecting the diversity of the landscapes of the Ubsunur basin: the yellow-brown stripe symbolizes steppe and desert, green - taiga, blue-violet - tundra, blue mountains with white glacier peaks - highlands. On the pennant, in addition to the emblem and inscriptions, the silhouette of a deer is depicted.