“New Siberian Islands” Nature Reserve Created in the Russian Arctic
The natural reserve of federal significance “New Siberian Islands” is located on the New Siberian Islands archipelago (the islands of Anjou and the islands of De Long) and the adjacent water area of the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea. The area of the new protected l area is almost 6.6 million hectares, including 4.9 million hectares of marine area.
The main goal of the reserve is to preserve the island and marine ecosystems of the Russian Arctic, which are of great environmental and scientific importance. The natural complexes of the New Siberian Islands are typical for the Arctic as a whole, but they have their own uniqueness due to the proximity of the Great Siberian Polynya.
New Siberian Islands and the adjacent water area is a valuable site, including the area of formation of the New Siberian polynya - part of the Great Siberian polynya, a unique world natural phenomenon that is the concentration of life in the seas of the Arctic Ocean. Coastal rookeries and feeding areas of Laptev walrus, the most important habitats of beluga whales and bearded seals are connected with New Siberian polynya. This is the habitat and breeding place of the polar bear and the Laptev subspecies of the walrus. Rare plants such as Rhodiola rosea, red-listed in Russia, Polka Field, Wormwood Richardson, Spitsbergen and Nenets buttercups, red-listed in Yakutia, are found on the islands.
The world`s largest placers of mammoth bone and other remains of the "mammoth fauna" of the Pleistocene era are found on the islands. On the island of Zhokhov, which is a part of the New Siberian Islands archipelago, a campsite for people of the Stone Age (about 7 thousand years ago) was found, the northernmost known site of an ancient man.
"We are very pleased that the three-year work of specialists from Moscow and Yakutia led to the long-awaited results, even though the created PA is different from the initial project. The territory of the reserve is now not integral, but consists of two sectors. The islands of Anjou and De Long were "divided" by the license area of Rosneft, and extremely valuable marine areas were excluded from the boundaries of the reserve," notes Irina Onufrenya, head of the Arctic projects of WWF-Russia.
In the near future, the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia together with the government of Yakutia, is to conduct organizational measures related to the creation of the reserve, to provide a special protection regime for natural complexes.