The Argun River received protection status
On 10 October 2017 the government of Zabaikalsky province issued a Decree on the establishment of Sredneargunsky Wildlife Refuge in the Argun River basin, one of the sources of the Amur River. The refuge was created within the framework of the Protected Areas Development Plan of Zabaikalsky province to 2030. The new PA will provide sustainable watershed management preserving forest, grassland and freshwater ecosystems including rare species and game resources. The territory of the wildlife refuge is the home for 37 bird species included in Red List of Zabaikalsky province (bean goose, whooping swan, gray crane, upland buzzard, crested honey hawk, falcated duck, Eurasian curlew, Chinese bush warbler); 19 species included in the Red List of Russia (Bewick's swan, eagle owl, steppe eagle); nine species are in the Red List of IUCN (such as Oriental stork, spotted eagle, great bustard).
The team of experts of Zabaikalsky province Oleg Korsun, Oleg Goroshko and Igor Mikheev, as well as the government of Zabaikalsky province and WWF Russia put a lot of efforts in preparation of eco-economic background and research expeditions.
«The establishment of the wildlife refuge is a great gift for the Amur River in the Year of protected areas in Russia. It covers the bank of the Argun River bordering already existing Erguna National Wildlife Refuge and Shiwei Regional Wildlife Refuge in China. We believe that with the establishment of Sredneargunsky Wildlife Refuge the Argun River ecosystems will get higher level of protection, and the transboundary cooperation of these territories will contribute to the wildlife conservation both in two countries and in the Amur ecoregion. – comments Anna Barma, Ph. D., protected areas coordinator at WWF Russia Amur branch, secretary of the Coordination Council of directors of nature reserves and national parks of the Russian Far East.
Traditional nature use for local people such as hunting, fishing, collecting of herbs and non-timber forest products is allowed on the territory of the wildlife refuge. Agricultural activity is also not prohibited. There are small settlements located near the refuge where people still do cattle farming. The refuge will provide protection of some rare species here namely tarbagan (Siberian marmot). The new protected area will become a breeding ground for many game species. The refuge will compensate the negative impact on environment caused by actively developing forestry and mining production in Nerchinsko-Zavodskoy region, providing conservation of unique biodiversity and valuable commercial species.
«I recall when 30 years ago one of the famous scientists, botanist Bella Dulepova was talking about great number of unique relicts in Priargun and dreaming to establish a nature reserve here. Borders of the created refuge are complicated, mainly due to numerous mines which are planned to be developed in the region. That is the reason why the area of the refuge was initially planned as 250 thousand hectares, but finally only 201 thousand was included into PA”, - comments Oleg Korsun, professor of Zabaikalsky Federal University, one of the authors of the eco-economic background.