World Heritage Site - Criteria (i), (ii) , (iii) and (iv)
BIOGEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION 2.34.12 (Caucaso-Iranian Highlands)
The territory is located in the southernmost European part of the
Russian Federation. It covers mountain ranges of the western part
of the Greater Caucasus mountain range. The site lies on territories
of Krasnodar Kray, and the Republics of Adygea and Karachaevo-Cherkessia.
The territory stretches for 130 km from east to west, and for 50
km from north to south.
The core area of the territory is formed by the Kavkazskiy (Caucasus)
Nature Reserve and its buffer zone (they both form Caucasus State
Biosphere Reserve), parts of Sochi National Park and its buffer
zone, territories of natural monuments. Parts of the territory are
very isolated and can only be easily reached helicopter. The nearest
city to the site is Sochi - 20 km. 45,5°-43,5°N, 39,8°-41,0°E.
DATE AND HISTORY OF ESTABLISHMENT
The largest part of the territory is contained within the Kavkazkiy
Nature Reserve. Previously, from 1882, a major part of the territory
of this nature reserve was a part of the hunting grounds of the
grand Prince called 'Kuban Chase'. Since 1906 its territory was
returned to local settlers, loosing its protective status. From
1909 the Russian Academy of Sciences began to raise the issue of
re-establishing protected status to this territory again and in
1924 the Kavkazkiy Nature Reserve Range was established. In 1979
the Kavkazkiy Nature Reserve was awarded a status of International
Biosphere Reserve under the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme.
The Sochi National Park was established in 1983 to preserve the
natural areas found on the Caucasian Black Sea Coast and for recreational,
educational and scientific purposes. In 1997 the territory of this
national park was divided into 5 zones of protective land use management.
Three parts of the Sochi National Park, adjacent to the Kavkazkiy
Nature Reserve, are included into the territory of the territory,
they represent especially protected zones of the national park.
The Bolshoy Thach Nature Park was established under Decree of the
President of the Republic of Adygea to protect a complex of primary
mountain broad-leaved formations, fur and beech-fur forests. Park's
territory is wintering area for many ungulates. The Ridge Buijnij
Nature Monument was established in 1996 under decision of the Cabinet
of Ministers of the Republic of Adygea to protect virgin fir woods
with trees of 300 years old. The River Tsitsa headwaters, and Headwaters
of Rivers Pshecha and Pshechashcha Nature Monuments were established
in 1997 under Decree of the President of the Republic of Adygea.
They were established to protect vast beech and beech-fiir forests
that are the biggest in the region. Till 1951 the Nature Park and
natural monuments belonged to the Kavkazkiy Nature Reserve but later
they had lost their protective status being transferred to forestry
departments. Due to difficulties with access and high degree of
slopes these areas were not involved in any economic activity.(Zapovedniki,
1990; MEP, 1996; Nomination form, 1998;). Inscribed as a World Heritage
site in 1999.
AREA The territory of the site covers 301 068 ha. All its territory
is protected as it formed by protected areas of various statuses
Kavkazkiy Nature Reserve
Buffer zone of the Kavkazkiy Nature Reserve
Sochi National Park
The Bolshoy Thach Nature Park
The Ridge Buijnij Nature Monument
The River Tsitsa headwaters Nature Monument
Headwaters of Rivers Pshecha and Pshechashcha Nature Monument
The Kavkazkiy Nature Reserve and Sochi National Park fall under
federal jurisdiction. The buffer zone of the Kavkazkiy Nature Reserve
and remaining protected areas fall under the republic jurisdiction
of the Forests Committee of the Republic of Adygea.
ALTITUDE From 250 m to3,360m above sea level (Akaragvarta Mountain).
The Caucasus mountains are one of the major mountain ranges in
Europe, and stand in considerable isolation from any other high
ground. The nominated area is located at the western end of this
mountain range, close to the Black Sea. While it does not encompass
the highest or steepest parts of the Caucasus, however it includes
a diverse geology, including sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous
rocks from Precambrian to the Paleozoic. The northern part of the
site is dominated by limestone massifs, with many caves, among them
the longest and deepest cave in Russia, which has 1,600 m depth
and 15 km length. Over most of the site the geomorphology has been
formed by glaciation. There are high peaks, wide valleys, moraines,
mountain bogs, and lakes. The site also contains about 60 remnant
glaciers, with total area of 18 sq. km. More than 130 mountain lakes
are located at high altitudes, among them: lakes Kardyvach, Inpsi
and Bezmolviya. Glaciers feed numerous watercourses: two large rivers,
the Bol'shaya Laba and the Belaya, and their tributaries dissect
the northern slope of the Great Caucasus range. The rivers of the
southern slope - Mzyma, Sochi, Shakhe - flow into the Black Sea.
These rivers form numerous waterfalls with heights from 5 m to 250
m and more. Abadzekhskoe Gorge in the River Tsitsa headwaters makes
a vertical descent of 1 km over a 10 km length. (Nomination, 1998,
Western Caucasus is a boundary zone between moderate and warm humid
climatic belts. The mountain ridges of the Great Caucasus range
form the main climatic boundaries between the northern and southern
climates, interrupting flows of cold air from north to the south.
Temperatures below zero are characteristic in the northern parts
in winter, while in June the temperature reaches 20°C. The southern
part, formed by the low mountains of the Black Sea coast and has
warm and damp climate close to subtropical. The average January
temperature is 4.2°C, and 20-21°C in July-August. Air temperatures
in mountains of the Great Caucasus fall 0.5°C for every 100
m increase in altitude, and absolute minima can reach -20-22°C.
The annual precipitation is about 1,000 mm and increases with height.
The highest precipitation is in vicinity of Achishko and Fisht Mountains,
where it reaches 3,000 mm a year. Snow cover is 2-4 m thick on flat
mountain slops, while in valleys and gorges it may be accumulated
up to 10-16 m. (Nomination, 1994).
The flora of the area is characterised by clear vertical zonation
patterns. Deciduous forests occupy the mountain foothills up to
1,000-1,200 m above sea level. This belt consists of pubescent oak
Quercus petaraea, Durmast oak Q. Petaraea, common pear Pyrus communis,
European chestnut Castanea sativa, the hornbeam Carpinus caucasica
and oriental beech Fagus orientalis forests. Groves of box Buxus
colchica and yew Taxus baccata are especially prized. The belt of
dark coniferous forests is located between 1,000 and 2,000 m above
sea level and consists of forests of fir Abies nordmanniana and
various pines Pinus spp. About 70% of the territory covered by the
fir forests. Above 2,000 m, these forests give way to birch Betula
pendula and B. litwinowii, as well as the maple Acer laetum and
A. trautvetteriare. Above the forest line, at almost 2,500-m, vegetation
includes a subalpine zone with the endemic Caucasian rhododendron
Rhododendron caucasicum and other shrubs of Betula and Salix. This
is followed by alpine meadows and rocky outcrops that yield in places
to sub-nival and nival belts, at 2,900 m. Terrain above this altitude
is permanently snow-covered. A total of 1,580 vascular plant species
have been recorded from the site, including 967 species from the
high mountain zone, about one third of which are endemic to the
Caucasus. There are 160 species of plants, which are in danger of
extinction and which are listed in Red Data books of Russian Federation
and regions: Republic of Adygea and Krasnodar Territory. There are
also over 700 species of fungi, 12 of which are threatened in Russia.
(Chebakova, 1997; Nomination form, 1998, IUCN, 1999).
The diversity of the landscapes of the Western Caucasus, is also
reflected in the fauna of the nominated area, with some 384 recorded
vertebrates. Some 60 species of mammal have been recorded in Kavkazkiy
Nature Reserve and Sochi National Park. These include wolf Canis
lupus, brown bear Ursus arctos, lynx Felis lynx, wild pig Sus scrofa,
Caucasian deer Cervus elaphus moral, roe deer Capreolus capreolus,
and reintroduced European bison Bison bonasus, tur Capra caucasica
and chamois Rupicapra rupicapra. Five species were registered in
the Red Data Book: the bats Miniopterus schreibersi and Nyctalus
lasioterus, Caucasian otter Lutra lutra meridionalis, the leopard
Panther pardus ciscaucasica and a reintroduced population of European
bison Bison bonasus. The avifauna of the site features 126 different
species of which 17 are registered in the Red Data Book of Russia.
Among them: black stork Ciconia nigra, osprey Pandion haliartus,
Levant sparrow hawk Accipiter brevipes, short-toed eagle Circaetus
gallicus, tawny eagle Aquila garax, imperial eagle A. heliaca, and
golden eagle A. chrysaetos. Seventeen reptiles have been registered
on the territory, two of which listed in the Red Data Book of Russia:
the turtle Testudo graeca and the viper Vipera kaznakowi. About
2500 insect species have been recorded from the area, but it is
likely that double this number may occur. Several of these species
have been listed in the Red Data Book, in particular Caucasian ground
beetle Carabus caucasicus, Alaus parreyssi, Rhesus serricollis,
Rosalia alpina, Apollo butterfly Parnassius apollo, and P. Mnemosyne
(Chebakova, 1997; Nomination, 1998).
The history of the human occupation of this region can be traced
back about 500 thousand years, archaeologists have found more than
150 sites of the ancient people in the area. Neanderthal man occupied
the region, along with many now extinct species such as mammoths,
aurochs, and wild horses. Since the first half of the 6,000 BC the
region became a place of several resettlements and migration waves.
At the end of 4,000 BC in the area was established a tumulus culture
that had connections with the migration wave from Forward Asia.
The territory was a part of highly developed Maikop culture that
existed up to the 1,000 BC: numerous findings have been found in
the tumuli including unique golden adornments, and artefacts made
of metal and clay. For many centuries the territory of the territory
has been largely uninfluenced by human activities and more recently
there has only been a little impact of logging, grazing and hunting
around the periphery. (Nomination, 1998).
LOCAL HUMAN POPULATION No resident population.
VISITORS AND VISITOR FACILITIES
Kavkazkiy Nature Reserve has restricted tourism activities in peripheral
areas, although for the most part these remain un-quantified. In
1997 2,934 people has passed along the one established tourist route,
while the museum at Guzeripl is currently receiving about 3000 visitors
per year. The River Belaya within boundaries of the Nature Reserve
is a place for annual international competitions of water sports.
In 1997 150 people took part in this competition. No information
available about visitors facilities (Nomination, 1998).
SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND FACILITIES No information.
One of the most remarkable features of the site is the lack of
human influence at the present time or in recent history. The nominated
area includes a important variety of natural ecosystems, about 80%
of ecosystem types of the Great Caucasus. It represents distinctive
ecological belts that change with altitude from subtropics up to
glacial and nival zones. It also includes about one-third of all
vascular plants recorded from the entire Greater Caucasus, including
many of the endemic and relict species for which the area is renowned.
The territory is difficult for access and remains one of the largest
strictly protected area containing a variety of endemic, rare and
endangered species (Nomination, 1998).
CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT Kavkazkiy Nature Reserve is managed by
the Russian State Committee of Environmental Protection in co-operation
with Forestry Committee of Republic of Adygea. A management plan
for the site was drawn up in 1997, dividing the reserve into six
regions each with a team of rangers. The Russian Ministry of Forestry
manages the Sochi National Park, although the Forest Committee of
Krasnodar Kray has some influence. A project for the management
of this site was drawn up in 1987 with detailed maps and division
into four zones, proposals to amend this into a 5-zone plan have
yet to be realised. Three natural monuments and the nature park
fall under the jurisdiction of the Cabinet of the Republic of Adygea,
although there are no management plans for these sites (Nomination,
1998, IUCN, 1999).
MANAGEMENT CONSTRAINTS Overall the large and inaccessible nature
of the nominated area means that the degree of threat to the park
is generally low, however there are four areas of concern. Although
illegal there is some hunting of ungulates in the area. There may
also be a minor problem of the impacts of hunting outside the park
boundaries, and it has been suggested that relative increases in
the provision of salt for ungulates in the hunting reserves around
the area may have drawn some animals out of the park. Although there
are currently no roads in the nominated area there is a proposal
to construct a road across the site from north to the Black Sea
coast at Dagomys. Such a construction would clearly compromise the
wilderness value of the park: there would undoubtedly be impacts
from the construction work itself, but it would also open up wide
areas that are currently inaccessible. (IUCN, 1999).
STAFF There are 199 staff in the Kavkazkiy Nature Reserve, including
15 administrative staff, 45 scientific workers, 95 rangers, 8 people
in the department of ecological education and 44 technical personnel.
Sochi National Park has 169 staff, including 17 administrative staff
and 15 forest guards. The remainder are guards, technicians and
other workers. There are no staff assigned to the other protected
areas, although the staff of the Kavkazkiy Nature Reserve undertake
some management activities.
DATE March 2000