Scientists say nature reserve may compensate ecology damage in Kolyma Region

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The nature reserve is planned to take two districts in the Magadan Region’s north. Its area is planned to be 9,100 square kilometers

YAKUTSK, October, 28. /TASS/. Biology experts say a special nature reserve, located between Yakutia and the Magadan Region, will protect the flora and fauna as well as the Kolyma riverhead’s landscapes, said Elena Khamenkova of the Institute of Biological Problems of the North (the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Far Eastern Branch).

The industrial development along the Kolyma riverhead began almost a century ago. The placer gold mining in perennially frozen soils there has practically ruined valley and talik floodplains of the rivers, which contain almost the entire biotic potential of the mountain-taiga landscape. Scientists say the years of placer mining have fully destroyed 3,700 km of floodplains at the area of more than 1,550 square kilometers. The affected soils take almost 50,000 square kilometers.

“The Magadan Region has supported the idea to organize the Chersky Nature Reserve. The reserve will have two big clusters. One of them will be in the Magadan Region’s north at the border with Yakutia. The reserve will be an element of the compensation for the ecology damage from almost one century-long placer gold mining. We will organize conditions to preserve the yet virgin nature spots and the areas where live birds and animals, which are on the Red Data Book – gyrfalcon, musk deer, and others. Additionally, the Omoul cluster would be a part, which will feature various mountainous glacial landscapes of the entire North-East,” she told TASS.

About clusters

The nature reserve is planned to take two districts in the Magadan Region’s north, in the southern spurs of the Chersky Ridge. The area is within the southern borders of the Arctic Region in compliance with the Arctic Council’s CAFF border (Boundary for Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna) and it may be viewed as a model area to watch dynamics of the nature’s changes at the border of the Russian Arctic zone. Scientists suggest making two clusters – Lake Jack London and Omoul Park. The nature reserve’s area is planned to be 9,100 square kilometers.

The Lake Jack London cluster will be on the left bank of the Kolyma’s riverhead and on the Bolshoi and Malyi Annachag Ridges – parts of the Chersky mountainous chains. The natural value is mountainous lakes, Alpine landscapes with glacial valleys and moraines, mountainous and valley flora and fauna of the upper Kolyma. The moraine Lake Jack London is on the list of the Magadan Region’s most important water-swamp areas.

“The clusters’ territory is known to contain four Stone Age sites. Numerous findings in wells point to further promising archaeology discoveries. For example, specialists have found bonfires, animal butchering sites, remains of dwellings, stone tools workshops, bone tools and ceramics,” the expert said adding the region is a promising area for historical, archaeological and biology studies.

The other cluster is an area of mountains and lakes, within Ridges Okhandya, Cherge, Ulakhan-Chistai, and the Middle Omoul Mountains. The main value is the mountainous lakes. Their diversity and the high locations have formed a nature complex, unique for Russia’s North-East. The cluster unites a few big (up to 23 square kilometers) and deep (up to 110 meters) lakes, adjacent to the Kolyma basin. The intermountain basin, where the lake-brook complex has formed, stretches further to the north, into Yakutia – into the Momsky Nature Reserve.

This area is rich in rare and Red Book Data species and in historical monuments. From the ancient times the territory has been populated by the Kolyma’s indigenous peoples. Scientists know about three sites aged up to 10,000 years, two sites aged before 7,000 years, which have witnessed the North-East’s Uolba Culture, common for the ancient people and the people living in Chukotka and Kamchatka.

Some parts in the clusters are related to the modern history of GULAG times (Soviet labor camps). Along the Omoulevka River are runways on the Alaska-Siberia route. Another monument is a former labor camp.

Ecological restoration

The Kolyma-Indigirka area’s development has focused on placer gold mining. “This method of mining ‘metal number one’ is the most nature-damaging method. Most miners in the Magadan Region still use it. The region is the country’s leader is placer mining. At the same time, the ecology standards for it are lower than requirements for the gold ore production methods,” the biologist said.

Consequently, she continued, the century-long industrial development in the Kolyma’s riverhead has resulted in a major ecology anomaly, which may be seen from the space. “The way to compensate for the damage is to develop nature reserves, which will preserve the nature. In this respect, the focus must be made on the southern part of the Chersky Ridge, [since] the Cherge and Okhandya Ridges as yet serve as barriers, protecting this unique nature and cultural area from the miners rush,” the expert said.

Russia’s North-East is not just a storage of mineral reserves, scientists say. It is a region which keeps virgin landscapes and the unique biodiversity. “The mountain-lake area in the southern part of the Chersky Ridge is a clear nature heritage of the Far-Eastern North. This territory could be a backbone point to monitor the biota’s dynamics at the southern border of Eurasia’s Arctic area, it could be a liaison for the trans-Bering studies and could push from a standstill the development of the Magadan Region’s ecology network,” she told TASS.

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