Major ecosystem type

Wetlands are the landscapes of a special value in the Biosphere Reserve area, being the sites characterized by typical plant communities and wildlife. They include extensive floodplain meadows, spawning grounds, serve as resting sites for migratory birds and habitats for nesting populations. They include a wide spectrum of water bodies, permanent and seasonal shallows, as well as waterlogged areas with free watertable continuously or periodically covering the land surface. In all of these sites water is the main factor that determines plant and animal living conditions and controls the environmental status.

In comparison with surrounding arid landscapes, the Volga-Akhtuba floodplain area is distinguished by a mosaic contrasting structure of its versatile landscapes, abundance and diversity of water bodies (ca. 3,000 water bodies against semidesert landscapes of the North Caspian), existence of high-yield floodplain meadows, valuable spawning grounds, unique park-like oak groves with the English oak genotype, highly fertile soils formed by spring flood deposits washed from the extensive Volga basin (the productivity of floodplain agricultural lands is almost 20 times that of the surrounding landscapes), abundance of the waterfowl.

Research and monitoring

  • Abiotic research and monitoring: Hydrological observations during the flood period; Chronicle of Nature (observations of weather events).
  • Biotic research and monitoring: Inventory taking of indicator species of terrestrial vertebrates; Seasonal monitoring of avifauna; Monitoring of Red Data Book plant and animal species.
  • Socio-economic research: Analysis of quality of tourist services delivered to population; Analysis of local tourism organization efficiency.

Major habitats & land cover types

  • Floodplain oak groves and fringe woodlands
  • Wetlands, including floodplain lakes, distributaries, floodplain grasslands of different ecological levels.
  • Transit waterways
  • Plowland, hayfields, pasturelands.
  • Lands allotted for settlement, including dacha villages.

Different existing zonation

  • The reserve core area constitutes a system of local core areas with concentrations of biological and landscape diversity, and connective transition areas; the core area is an area of long-term conservation, long-term scientific researches and environmental monitoring. The Volga-Akhtuba Floodplain Nature Park environmental protection zone is suggested as a basis for establishing the Biosphere Reserve core area.
  • The clearly defined buffer zone encloses the proposed reserve environmental protection core practically around the entire perimeter, protecting the reserve core area from the direct impacts of objects existing in the transition zone. In terms of configuration and character the Biosphere Reserve buffer zone boundaries mainly coinside with the Volga-Akhtuba Floodplain Nature Park recreation zone.
  • The transition area is designed for development of different forms of sustainable use of the natural resource potential of the entire Volga-Akhtuba Floodplain Nature Park agricultural land use zone, as well as of the land use belt between the left bank of the Akhtuba river and the Volgograd -Astrakhan highway and railway, as well as the island of Golodny.

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                                                                                           Last updated : July 2011

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