World Heritage Russian sites of WH

The Putorana Plateau

Плато Путорана  
Status of Property: State Nature Reserve

Area: 1.887 million ha

Situation: Inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2010

The following organizations took part in preparation of the nomination: Natural Heritage Protection Fund, Dresden University of Technology, WWF, the Putoransky Reserve, Geography Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow Centre of the Russian Geographical Society, the Likhachev Cultural and Natural Heritage Institute


Valley of Khikikal river  Relative heights on the plateau often exceed 1000 metres

View of eastern edge of Dupkun lake  Waterfall on Kureika river is the most powerfull on the plateau


Putorana is the vast basalt plateau almost not disturbed by civilization raising on the north of East Siberia to the north of the polar circle. The main part of the plateau is occupied by the Putoransky Reserve established in 1988. The Putoransky Reserve is one of the largest in Russia.

To science, firstly geology and geomorphology, this mountainous area gives classical example of the so-called trappean, or stepped relief (Swedish word trapp means stairs). It's a complex of high flat-topped mountain massifs divided by deep and wide stepped canyons. Such relief appeared here after elevation of ancient lava plateau generated during giant burning hot basalt mass outflow (between Palaeozoic and Mesozoic eras) which led to occurrence of giant tectonic faults. Due to different solidity levels of horizontal basalt and tufa layers, slopes of the generated gorges acquired stepped character. Lava layer thickness in the central part of the Putorana reaches 1500 m with up to 40 layers vividly seen at outcroppings.

With time tectonic fractures have been expanded by glaciers and occupied by rivers and deep narrow lakes (Lama, Keta, Glubokoye, Khantayskoye, Ayan, etc.) creating the unique appearance of the plateau. These exotic fjord-like lakes reaching 100-150 km in length and up to 400 m deep are considered to be Siberian largest after lakes Baikal and Teletskoye. Another adornment of the plateau are numerous waterfalls, including the 108 m high waterfall in Kanda river valley considered to be one of the Russia's highest.

General climatic border lines divide the Putorana plateau in two directions determining the biodiversity level unexpectedly high for this latitude. One border line divides northern taiga and forest tundra, the other divides the plateau into western and eastern parts and defines the eastern distribution limit of the western taiga vegetation.

Vegetation cover is presented by larch taiga, sparse forests and mountain tundra. The flora list of the reserve counts about 400 higher plants species, including several rare, relic and endemic forms.

There are 34 mammal species in the reserve. Here lays the migration route of the Taimyr wild reindeer population of over 500 000 specimen. The plateau is the only habitat of one of the most poorly known hoofed animal inscribed into the Red Book of RF - the Putorana bighorn sheep (Ovis nivicola borealis). Having been isolated from the main population about 15 000 years ago, it has formed a separate sub-specie.

About 140 bird species have been noted in the reserve. Main part of them is nesting here, including rare prey birds like white-tailed eagle and merlin. The number of their nesting-places at the plateau is especially high. Numerous water reservoirs are stopover points for thousands of migrating birds.