Lake Baikal

 

Lake Baikal

Region of the Russian Federation: Irkutsk Region, Republic of Buryatia

Status of Territories composing the Property: Barguzinsky and Baikalsky State Nature Biosphere Reserves, Baikalo-Lensky State Nature Reserve, Zabikalsky, Pribaikalsky and Tunkinsky (partially) National Parks, Kabansky and Frolikhinsky Federal Preserves, several regional protected areas

Area: 8.8 million ha

Status: inscribed in the World Heritage List in 1996

Lake Baikal is one of the largest lakes on the planet. It is a lake of superlative degrees: it is the deepest (1,637 m) and the oldest (about 25 million years) fresh water lake with the most diverse flora and fauna. The number and quality of fresh water stock of the lake are equally as unique. The lake contains 23.6 thousand km3 of fresh water, or more than 20% of the world's fresh water stock. The Baikal hollow is the central part of the Baikal rift zone, which is one of the Earth's largest ancient rift systems. Together with its basin, the lake is a very distinctive and delicate natural ecosystem, one that facilitates the natural clear water production process.

Compared to that of the Siberia as a whole, the climate of the Baikal Lake shores is mild. For example, there are more sunny days here than that at many of the Black Sea resorts.

Together with the surrounding mountain systems, the lake's hollow mark one of the most important natural borders of Siberia. This is where the borders of different flora and fauna complexes come together. This place has biocenoses that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The Baikal hollow has always been isolated from the outer world. That is how it became home to one of the richest and the most unusual fresh water fauna in the world, which is of extreme importance for evolution studies.

Of the 2,630 plant and animal species and subspecies that have been discovered in the lake to date, about 80% cannot be found anywhere else. It is almost impossible to find anyone who has not heard of the omul or Baikal sturgeon. Two viviparous fish species, endemic for Lake Baikal - the Great and Small golomyanka fish - are well known among the world's ichthyologists. A typically marine mammal, nerpa or the Baikal seal, crowns the Baikal ecosystem.