Uvs Nuur Basin


Uvs Nuur Basin

Region of the Russian Federation: Tyva Republic

Status of Territories composing the Property: Ubsunurskaya Kotlovina State Nature Biosphere Reserve

Area: 1, 069 million ha

Status: inscribed in the World Heritage List in 2003

The Ubsunur (Uvs Nuur) Hollow (Basin), located in Mongolia and Russia is, perhaps, one of the most unique and interesting locales in all of Central Asia. A complex of ecosystems, from taiga to desert, coexists in this region. 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 even shifting sand dunes. They create an amazingly beautiful and diversified natural phenomenon. It is impossible to find this combination of landscapes anywhere else on the continent.

The territory is located in the area of interaction of the Euro-Siberian and Central Asian flora and fauna complexes, which sets an unusually high biodiversity level for temperate latitudes. The Ubsunur Hollow hosts such inhabitants of the mountains and tundra as the snow leopard, Siberian roe, Altai snow cock and marmot; inhabitants of taiga: Siberian deer, lynx and wolverine; of steppe: Mongolian lark, jerboa, demoiselle crane; and of deserts: bustard and chickweed. The area has 359 species of birds. Many relict species extinct in other regions, have found refuge in the hollow’s relative safety.

Low population density and the absence of industrial facilities make it possible to use the hollow as a natural laboratory to study biosphere processes. Traditional human activities in the Hollow, with its nomadic pasturing, fit perfectly into the landscape and with particular restrictions, do not disturb natural processes.

The value of the territory is not limited to its natural peculiarities. The Ubsunur Hollow is also important for the country's cultural heritage, as it harbours still-unstudied archaeological artifacts. No other place in Central Asia manifests such a high concentration of burial mounds (20,000 according to some estimates), many of them 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 cultural landscape.

Ancient traditions of harmony between man and nature are still carefully preserved here, and the ancient culture of the nomads of the steppes still exists in this region. The art of “throat singing” is also preserved here.