Region of the Russian Federation: Tyva Republic
Area: 39.6 thousand ha
Criteria: (ix), (х)
Site Status: inscribed in the World Heritage List in 2003 as the International (Russian-Mongolian) site
Status of Territories composing the Site:
“Ubsunurskaya Kotlovina” State Nature Biosphere Reserve (667010, Tyva Republic, Kyzyl, ul.Kalinina, 19).
The Ubsunur (Uvs Nuur) Hollow (Basin), one of the most special and interesting places in Central Asia, is located in Mongolia and Russia. A unique complex of interconnected but contrasting ecosystems, from taiga to desert, took shape here. Glaciers, snowfields, alpine tundra and sub alpine meadows are gradually replaced by the vast mountain taiga zone, which is, in turn, followed by forest steppes, steppes, semi-arid deserts, and shifting sand dunes. Nowhere else in Eurasia is there such a combination of landscapes.
European, Siberian and Central Asian species of flora and fauna are combined in the basin, so its biodiversity is extraordinary high for middle latitudes. The Ubsunur Hollow hosts such high mountain inhabitants as the rock ptarmigan, Altai snow cock and snow leopard; inhabitants of taiga: Siberian deer, lynx and wolverine; of steppe: Mongolian lark, demoiselle crane and long-tailed ground squirrel; and of deserts: houbara bustard and midday jird.
The area has 359 species of birds. Many relict species extinct elsewhere, have found refuge in its relative safety.
Low population density and the absence of industry mean the hollow can be used as a natural laboratory to study biosphere processes.
The area’s value is not limited to its natural peculiarities. It is also important for its cultural heritage anb harbours still-unstudied archaeological artifacts. No other place in Central Asia manifests such a high concentration of burial mounds (some estimates say 20,000), many older than the Egyptian pyramids. Thousands of carved drawings and stone sculptures – remnants of Middle Age settlements and Buddhist temples – shape the inimitable appearance of the natural and cultural landscape.
Ancient traditions of harmony between man and nature are still carefully preserved here. The ancient culture of steppe nomads still persists, as does the art of “throat singing”.