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A buffer zone has been created for the Zabelovsky cluster of the Bastak Nature Reserve in Evreiskaya province

20 september 2022
Special natural resource management regulations have been introduced on the area of 30.7 thousand hectares adjacent to the cluster to prevent human impact on the unique natural complex
The buffer zone and the Regulations on its establishment were approved by the decree of the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation Alexander Kozlov dated April 11, 2022. On September 12, 2022, the document was registered with the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation and entered into force. The document preparation process for its creation was implemented with the support of WWF.
According to Alexander Kalinin, director of the Bastak Nature Reserve: “Creation of the buffer zone of the Zabelovsky cluster is a big step towards ensuring environmental well-being for the unique territory of our nature reserve. The established natural resource management regime will allow us to control the economic activities on the territory adjacent to the cluster. It is very important that the sources of the Zabelovka River are located within the boundaries of the buffer zone, as a result the entire basin of this river from source to mouth will be under protection. This will allow us to organize a full scale conservational, research and educational activities aimed at preserving the Zabelovka River from depletion and pollution. Unfortunately, there are negative precedents: for example, the regular discharge of waste waters by the oil pumping station near the Smidovichi village, which through the melioration system fall into the Zabelovka River and further into Lake Zabelovskoye. This significantly degraded the quality of water in the lake and negatively impacted the forage base of waterfowl, including rare bird species. Now, after the introduction of special nature management regime on this territory, we will be able to control more effectively the ecological state of the territories on the border with the nature reserve and minimize the negative impact on unique water bodies”.
The Zabelovsky cluster is located in the Smidovichi district of Evreiskaya province, in the floodplain of the middle reaches of the Amur River. It covers a network of lakes, rivers, streams and channels with the richest biodiversity. The key nature object of the cluster is Lake Zabelovskoye, the largest freshwater reservoir in Evreiskaya province, which is of great importance for the breeding and stop-overs of numerous migratory waterfowl, spawning and feeding of fish, and a habitat for many species of plants and animals. Of particular value are the breeding sites of the Red Listed species: osprey, swan goose, great white heron, white-tailed eagle, white-naped crane and hooded crane, and the Oriental stork.
Comments Anna Serdyuk, Ph.D, Head of the Freshwater Ecosystems Department of WWF Russia Amur Branch, Chairman of the Russian Working Group for the Oriental Stork Conservation: “By creating a buffer zone of the Zabelovsky cluster, the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia has fulfilled one of the terms of the “Strategy for the Oriental Stork Conservation in the Russian Federation”, adopted in December last year. This is an important step in the conservation of key freshwater ecosystems that are home to many rare species, including the Oriental stork, white-naped crane and hooded crane. The Zabelovsky cluster is located right on the border with China, and on the other side of the border is the Chinese Bachadao Nature Reserve, and together these reserves form a fairly large single territory with special protection regime on one of the key sections of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. With the establishment of the buffer zone of the Zabelovsky cluster, this common protected area, which is extremely important for the Red Listed birds, has expanded by more than 30,000 hectares, which is the great news”.

The Zabelovsky cluster was created in 2011 on the territory of the former provincial wildlife refuge. Back then, an area of more than 36,000 hectares was transferred under the management of the Bastak Nature Reserve. Over more than 10 years, the reserve’s staff, including with WWF support, have been conducting scientific work on the territory of the cluster to study the state of the ornithofauna and ichthyofauna, rare and endangered plants and animals, as well as their habitat.

Early this year, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the extending this valuable ornithological site to the territory of the reserve, WWF helped the Bastak Nature Reserve to purchase a mobile container. This allowed the staff of the scientific department of the reserve and the colleagues from protected areas and scientific institutes of the country to conduct field work on the cluster territory in more comfortable conditions.
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