Region of the Russian Federation: Chukchi Autonomous Region
Area: 4,66 mln ha
Criteria: (ix), (х)
Site Status: inscribed in the World Heritage List in 2004
Status of Territories composing the Property:
Ostrov Wrangela State Nature Reserve with its buffer zone (689400, Chukchi Autonomous Region, Chaun District, Pevek, ul. Obrucheva, 38).
The Nature Reserve covers Wrangel and Herald islands and the adjoining 12-mile marine area. With the 180th meridian crossing its territory, the island falls into both Western and Eastern hemispheres.
Thanks to the unique combinations of natural history, terrain, climatic conditions, and isolation endemism is high, and there are large numbers of rare and relict plant species. The islands, once part of the ancient continent of Eurasia and North America, have a wide variety of Eurasian and North American flora and fauna.
The islands vegetation is of an arctic tundra sub-zone kind; in some places, with a phytocenosis similar to polar desert. In the south-east and center of the Wrangel Island, relict steppe and tundra-steppe plant associations are spread with a variety of flowering plants.
Neither amphibians nor reptiles inhabit the islands. There are, however, 169 bird species and frequent rookeries. The white goose nesting colony is the biggest in Eurasia. The common eider, king eider, red knot, peregrine falcon and gyrfalcon also nest here.
Among terrestrial mammals, the Siberian and arctic lemming, and arctic fox are common. Ffox, wolf, wolverine, and common weasel appear periodically. This is the largest walrus breeding ground in Russia. The islands are a big “maternity unit” for polar bears, with up to 500 maternity dens in some years.
The islands are now inhabited by the musk buffalo and domestic reindeer brought earlier from the continent. In the coastal waters it is quite often possible to observe whales: gray whale, bowhead, fin and beluga.
About 3.6 thousand years ago, when ancient Egyptian civilization was flourishing, a small subspecies of mammoth lived here. This isolated island population lived almost 6,000 years longer than its continental relatives. Ancient archeological sites have been found on the islands.
The Reserve’s climate is very severe. In February and March temperatures can be lower than −30 °C for weeks. Snowstorms are not rare with winds up to 40 m/sec and higher. Summer is cool, and there can be light frosts and snow falls.