The Volga Delta
Astrakhansky Reserve includes part of the above-water delta consisting of small islands and separated by narrow branches, underwater delta and the intermediate line of shallow inlets. The Volga delta is one of the most dynamic deltas in the world with its specific hydrological regime caused by interaction of the large river and the internal basin of Caspian Sea. This feature should be taken into consideration when nominating this natural site by the criteria (ix).
Vegetation is of intrazonal, typically deltaic character. Many flora species relate to rare and disappearing, like vast growths of water chestnut and sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn) inscribed on the Red Book of Russia. Total number of flora species is 278, including 44 species of water plants.
The Volga Delta is an area of intersection of migration routes of numerous waterfowl and near-water birds which proves the undoubtful outstanding value of the area for biodiversity conservation (criteria (x)). Over 80% of birds nests within the reserve's area: mute swans, grey-lag geese, mallards, red-crested pochards. 27 species are inscribed on the Red Book of Russia: dalmatian pelican, spoonbill, osprey, white-tailed eagle etc. Of special interest are colonies of Ciconiiformes and Pelecaniformes - great white heron, little egret, glossy ibis, mallard, spoonbill, squacco heron which nest together -quite a rare phenomenon marked at this area. In total avifauna counts over 230 species. Fish fauna includes 61 species, many Cyprindae, during migrations are met Acipenseridae and Clupeidae. Mammal fauna counts about 30 species.
An outstanding significance of the natural complex of the Astrakhansky reserve has already gained the international recognition -the area is a part of "The Volga Delta" Wetland of International Importance and has the status of Biosphere Reserve.
Besides, upon the results of the gaps analysis by IUCN the area of the Volga delta was defined as undoubtfully worth of inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List.