Region of the Russian Federation: Komi Republic
Area: 3.28 million ha
Criteria: (vii), (ix)
Site Status: inscribed in the World Heritage List in 1995
Status of Territories composing the Site:
Pechoro-Ilychsky State Nature Biosphere Reserve (169436, Komi Republic, Troitsko-Pechorsky District, Yaksha, Laninoy str. 8) with its buffer zone, Yugyd Va National Park (169570, Komi Republic, Vuktyl, Komsomolskaya str., 5)
The “Virgin Komi Forests” was the first Russian natural site inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This nomination opened a new page in nature protection in Russia.
The site includes plain and mountain tundra, one of the largest massifs of the intact boreal forests remaining in Europe, a spacious wetland system etc. Observations of this area, protected already for more than 50 years, present invaluable information on natural processes that determine the biodiversity of taiga ecosystems.
The “Virgin Komi Forests” is a real treasury of the taiga. The area is home to more than 40 mammal species (including brown bear, sable and elk), 204 bird species (including such Russian Red Book birds as erne and fish hawk), 16 fish species, the most valuable of which are the ice age relics Lake Char and the Arctic grayling.
The site stretches for more than 300 kilometers along the Western slope of the Prepolar and Northern Urals whose mountains have a considerable influence on local climate. A distinct boundary, dividing the typically Siberian flora of the eastern slopes and European species and plant forms established on the humid western slopes of the Urals, lies along their peaks. In some places the natural complexes make up complicated mosaics. Among spruce and fir trees, which are the main wood species here, is the Siberian cedar (Siberian pine) is met here. It is its north-western limit of distribution.
Taiga vegetation penetrates high to the mountains along narrow river valleys. Mountain tundra occupies large areas together with the mostly deprived rocky zone that stretches out on the highest summits of the Ural Ridge. This is where the crystal-clear streams and rivers that finally form the powerful Pechora River begin.
Virgin Komi Forests are rich in natural monuments with different and sometimes unusual shape. Fanciful pillars, “castle ruins”, buttes and other forms created by weathering are characteristic for Podcherem, Shchugor, Kozhim and Bolshaya Synia river basins.