World Heritage Russian sites of WH

Bashkirian Urals

Status of areas composing the Site: State Nature Reserve, National Park, Nature Preserve

Area: 0.2 million ha

Situation: Not inscribed on the World Heritage List

The following organizations took part in preparation of the nomination: NABU, Geography Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Dresden University of Technology, All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Nature Conservation, Greenpeace Russia

Head waters of Belaya river is the most well-preserved picturesque oasis of Southern Urals, the oldest industrial region of Russia. Here the river, running tens of kilometers along the sparsely populated area sometimes surrounded by high rocky cliffs, skirts many mountain ranges covered by dense forests forming the magnificent mountain and valley landscape.

Different karst formations - caves with sinter formations and subsurface rivers, grottos and stone bridges, canyons and waterfalls, lakes, cones and springs - are typical for the western part of the proposed property with predomination of limestone highlands. Only at Bashkiria National Park has been found twenty caves, including the Urals largest - the Sumgan going 120 m down (with the total length of passages of 10 km). Banks of river Belaya and its tributary Nurgush with abrupt rocky cliffs up to 150 m high are adorned with exotic residual rocks.

The Bashkirsky Reserve shows another scene. Made of ancient magmatic rocks the Yuzhny Kraka mountain massif has got pronounced sculptural forms under an influence of erosion processes. The massif is divided into several separate plateaus with numerous radially dispersing small river and creek valleys.

The property is located between the forest and steppe nature zones and in conjunction place of the four bio-geographical provinces which causes high diversity of flora and fauna. Here are combined northern and southern, European and Siberian elements. Light conifer taiga made of pine and larch neighbors with broadleaf (linden, oak, elm, maple) and small-leaved (birch, aspen) forests. Mountain and rock steppes are presented by several small embedments, however, their flora composition which includes numerous relics and endemics is the most original.

At the Bashkirian Urals were found about 800 vascular plant species, over 100 of which have been defined as rare, endemic or relic. Here were noted over 60 mammal species (brown bear, wolf, lynx, glutton, elk, otter, sable, beaver, etc.). Among some 150 bird species nesting in this area of special interest are rare prey birds like imperial eagle and white-tailed eagle inscribed into the Red Book of the World.

One of the most outstanding features of the cultural landscape formed in this area - maintenance of traditional forms and technologies of nature use which have for many centuries been the life activity basis of the local population. First of all we speak about the forest bee-keeping, "bortnichestvo" - the ancient way of acquiring honey of wild bees living in tree hollows. Its history begins over 1500 years ago. Last remaining populations of Central Russian wild bee dwell within the area of the Bashkirian Urals.

The most famous historical, cultural and natural monument of the region is the Kapova cave. The three-level 2.7 km long karst vault with the system of tunnels, grottoes and halls is located in the Shulgan Tash Reserve, on the right bank of Belaya river. The cave is famous for its late Paleolithic (14 500 year old) rock carvings showing mammoths, rhinos, horses and other animals.