© UNESCO/Sergey Starikov
Bukhtara Lake - Katon-Karagay Biosphere Reserve (Kazakhstan)

The Katon-Karagay Biosphere Reserve is located in the upper reaches of the rivers Bukhtarma, White and Black Berel, and includes the southern slopes of the ridges Listvyaga and Katun (the eastern peak Belukha), ridges of the left bank of the Buhtarma River: Sarymsakty, Tarbagatai (Southern Altain) and the Southern Altai. The northern part, which includes part of Katun ridge, has altitudes from 2,000m to 4,506m (Belukha) whereas southern altitudes range from 850m (Valley Buhtarma River) to 3,487m (Southern Altai mountain range). Altitudes near Belukha town reach 2500-3000m with expressed valleys, steep rocky slopes and moraines. The same landscape is observed in the Eastern part of Southern Altai ridge. The rest of the site’s territory, including Sarymsakty, Tarbagatay and Listvyaga ridges, is mainly flat mountains with a maximum altitude above sea level of 4,506m (minimum altitude is 850m). The abundance of meadow herbs and flowers comprises more than 1,000 species of higher vascular plants, as well as mosses, lichens and fungi.

Declaration date: 2014
Administrative authorities: Katon-Karagay State National Park
Surface area: 1,631,940 ha
Core area: 126,432 ha
Buffer zone: 855,508 ha
Transition area: 650,000 ha

Latitude: 48°53'N – 49°49′N
Longitude: 86°10′E – 87°19′E
Midpoint: 49°21′05″N - 086°44′10″E

Ecological Characteristics

© UNESCO/Roman Jashenko
Sunflower field - Katon-Karagay Biosphere Reserve (Kazakhstan)

Katon-Karagay disposes mainly of an alpine ecosystem with alpine nival and sub-alpine zones. In addition, middle mountain meadow-steppe zones of juniper woodlands, bushes savannoids, lowland belts of shrubs and large grass savannoids (sometimes steppe) can be found within the area. The mountain-meadow alpine zone consists roughly of 120 flora species, most of which are dazzling flowering plants, rendering the meadows bright and colorful. In the highland tundra meadow zone, higher flowering plant vegetation is extremely diverse, with supremacy of Kobresia myosuroides and K. smirnovii, and co-domination of Carex spp. and Helictotrichon mongolicum. In the outskirts of the biosphere reserve, formations of herbaceous tundra can be observed: edificator of Carex, Thermopsis alpine etc.

© UNESCO/Sergey Starikov
Lacerta agilis - Katon-Karagay Biosphere Reserve (Kazakhstan)

The richest region in forest resources is the mountain-forest zone with a forest area of approximately 216,184 ha. Almost 80% is occupied by coniferous forests, 19% by shrubs and only a little more than 1% by deciduous forests. The main forest-forming species are larch, cedar and spruce. The forests here are unwavered by economic activity, continuously retaining resources despite forest fires.

In the highland nival zone, vegetation groups grow on mielkozem and are formed by plants of periglacial complex (Omalotheca supina, Vaccinium etc.).

However, the subnival zone disposes of two very distinct vegetation types; rocks and rocky alluvials. In the rocks, the following shrubs can be found: Berberis sibirica, Ribes nigrum and R. fragrans. Rocky alluvials and overgrowing screes are inhabited by a number of shrubs including Salix myrsinites, whereas herbaceous plants are represented by Thermopsis alpina, Lupinaster eximius and more.

The flora of Kazakhstan Altai includes 2,450 species of 693 genera and 131 families, including Southern Altai and its 2,052 species (83.8% of the total species number in Kazakhstan Altai). There are approximately 1,000 plant species in the Katon-Karagay Biosphere Reserve, belonging to 78 families, 30 of which are endangered. The families with the most species are Poaceae, Asteraceae, Rosaceae, Ranunculaceae, Fabaceae, Сурeraceae and Caryophyllaceae.

Socio-Economic Characteristics

© UNESCO/Yu Zinchenko
Conservation process - Katon-Karagay Biosphere Reserve (Kazakhstan)

Both the core and buffer zones in the biosphere reserve belong to the Katon-Karagay State National Nature Park. Part of the land in the buffer zone is used agriculturally, for grazing and haying, in consultation with the government and the site’s administrative body. About 40,000 people live in the transition zone with various land cover types including agricultural land, state reserves and settlements. The population in this area breeds cattle, horses, sheep, bees, deer and stags with plant production providing additional activity for fodder (perennial/annual), herbs and cereal fodder cultures such as barley or oats. Private farms dominate the cattle-breeding sector of the region with the majority of farms owning only a small number of animals (less than 40 sheep). Overall, 1,518 farms and 9 thousand personal farmsteads of the population engage in agricultural production.

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                                                                                   Last update: August 2014

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