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Local communities learned how to find rare plants to save forest

05 june 2022
Local residents and staff of environmental organizations have learned to identify plants of the Red Book and preserve rare species of the Altai Mountains.

The training of the WWF held on June 1-3 near the village of Uznezya in the Altai Republic as part of the "People for Nature" project. Residents of the region, representatives of non-governmental organizations and protected natural areas of the Altai Republic, the Altai Territory and the Novosibirsk Region took part in the event.

The training was attended by local residents of Altai Republic and professional environmentalists who wanted to learn how to identify plants, work with special mobile applications, recognize rare plant species and save them.

Experts from Barnaul city became trainers and lecturers: Victor Nikulkin, coordinator of the WWF Russia forest program in the Altai-Sayan ecoregion, Alexei Gribkov, an ecologist, Lyudmila Pozhidaeva, coordinator of the Adopt a Wildlife Sanctuary program in the Altai Territory, Alexei Ebel, head of the Siberian branch of the Russian Bird Conservation Union.

Viktor Nikulkin, WWF Forest Coordinator in Altai-Sayan Ecoregion.
(c) WWF / Lubov Ivasjkina
The acquired skills and knowledge help to identify rare Red Book plants that need to be preserved. The main goal of the seminar is to involve local residents in monitoring and use the data obtained to preserve valuable forest areas. One of the signs of a valuable forest is the presence of rare species of plants and animals. Rare species say that this is a real forest, primeval. Such plants are also indicators of especially valuable forests. They show that the ecosystem is healthy’, says Viktor Nikulkin, coordinator of the WWF Russia forest program in the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion.

During theoretical part of the training, the participants got acquainted with the methodology for determining Red Book plants, the principles of operation of mobile applications, such as Inaturalist. In the area close to the Lake Manzherok, the participants of the training during the field practice were able to consolidate the knowledge gained during the training.

Bird's-nest orchid (lat. Neottia nidus-avis) found during training
(c) WWF / Lubov Ivashkina
Alexey Ebel became the main expert in identifying rare plant species during field practice. According to the expert, the training area is rich in rare species of plants: venus slipper, daylily, digitiroot grow here. Plants such as the chlorophyll-free nesting orchid (Federal Red Book) have been found in several locations.

According to Lyudmila Pozhidaeva, the method of searching for rare species has been used in the neighboring Altai Territory for many years as part of the Adopt a Wildlife Sanctuary program. Thanks to this project, many especially valuable forest areas and habitats of rare species have been preserved. For monitoring areas, special identification applications help nature lovers to make observations and even make discoveries. Today, civil society science concept is very useful. The people are interested not only in contemplating, but also in learning about the world around them, and sharing their observations with scientists.

“Children make real scientific discoveries, find new species that are not even known to the region. The man took out a smartphone, took a picture and sent it to scientists. So, thanks to one boy, an ancient relative of fish, the Siberian lamprey, was found in Katun. Later, other habitats of this rare representative of the fauna were found in the foothills. Now the lamprey has entered the Red Book of the Altai Territory. So it is very important to share your observations with scientists so that it works for the cause of nature conservation," says Lyudmila Pozhidaeva.
Ludmia Pozhidaeva, one of the lectors.
(c) WWF / Lubov Ivashkina
On the last day of the training, the organizers held a field press briefing for Altai journalists. So, using the application in the iNaturalist smartphone, five rare plant species were found along a trail about three kilometers long.
Press-briefing on the last day of the training
(c) WWF / Lubov Ivashkina
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