World Heritage Russian sites of WH

Vodlozersky National Park

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

Area: 0.58 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, Greenpeace Russia, International Academy for Nature Conservation (Vilm Island, Germany), Vodlozersky National Park, Association of Reserves and National Parks of Russian North-West.

The unique natural and cultural heritage of Vodlozero area (the Vodlozero lake watershed basin and the discharging Ileksa river) is presently being protected within Vodlozersky National Park boundary and the adjacent Kozhozersky zakaznik located further to the east. The whole natural complex is located slightly to the east of one of the largest lakes of Russian North - the Onega lake.

Here have remained one of the most significant (about 600 000 ha) natural taiga-marsh massifs of the Northern Europe with taiga occupying some 50% of the area, marshes - 40% and rivers and lakes - 10%. Remaining almost undisturbed, the local forests have been acknowledged typical for subzones of northern and median taiga of western sector of Eurasia. Pine and spruce are dominating species with some specimen reaching the age of 300 years.

Over 400 vascular plants species and high diversity of fungi, mosses and lichens have been revealed within the site. About 50 mammal species like brown bear, wolf, lynx, pine marten, mink and glutton have been found in forests and marshes. Here dwells the large and the Europe's most southern forest reindeer population. Located by the important birds' migration route, lakes and marshes of Vodlozero area attract a lot of birds: in total here were noted about 200 species, among which were about 40 migrant species. Many species are nesting here, including such rare birds of prey like osprey, white-tailed eagle, golden eagle. Fish fauna of Vodlozero basin is also distinguished by high diversity and productivity. Several dozens of flora and fauna species have been acknowledged as rare and disappearing not only on regional, but also on national and international levels.

The Vodlozero area occupies the edge of the vast Baltic shield and here in several places are exposed crystalline rocks recognized as one of the world's most ancient (up to 3.4 billion years, Archean and Proterozoic era). The geologic uniqueness of the area is also reflected in abundance of intrusions, diatremes and paleovolcanoes. Besides these, different water and glacier formations are widely spread over the area.

Located along the ancient trade route from the Great Novgorod to the White Sea, the Vodlozero area is a unique cultural landscape which concentrates different archaeological monuments and architectural monuments of later period. These are Mesolithic and Neolithic camp sites of prehistoric humans and numerous monuments of wooden architecture dated mostly by XVIII-XIX centuries. The most famous masterpiece is the Ilyinsky pogost (late XVII cent.) encircled by the unique log fence surrounding the church, bell-tower and the cemetery. Formerly it served as the most important spiritual centre for the whole area. Not only separate spiritual, dwelling and management buildings, but also the whole ancient settlements have remained here from ancient times. Formed many centuries ago, traditional crafts and nature-use means still exist at the area (farming, hunting and fishing, fish processing, mushrooms and berries gathering, etc.).