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Премия рунета 2017

For a month, scientists will examine Kamchatka spruce forests

31 july 2019
As part of the WWF-Russia project to conserve Kamchatka’s unique spruce forests, a team of scientists will explore the surroundings of Nikolka Volcano and the area surrounding the Nikolka River in the Milkovsky District of the Kamchatka krai. The purpose of the expedition is to collect data to create a botanical reserve.

On August 1, an expedition of scientists from the Kamchatka branch of the Pacific Institute of Geography has begun. Field studies of the forest area surrounding the Nikolka volcano and the river will take about a month. During this time, the researchers expect to collect sufficient information to prepare the rationale for the creation of a botanical reserve in this area.

“So far, the ecosystem of the ancient volcano Nikolka has not been comprehensively investigated. The available information is mainly devoted to the forestry characteristics of the forests of Nikolka and its environs. Our preliminary studies have shown that the Nikolka indigenous forests are home to many rare and relict plant species. Our task at this stage is to clarify the boundaries of the territory on which it is planned to create a reserve in the future, as well as to prepare a description of other plant communities than spruce. These materials will become the basis for compiling the rationale for the creation of protected areas, ” said Marina Vyatkina, senior researcher at the Plant Ecology Laboratory of the Kamchatka branch of the Pacific Institute of Geography.

According to scientists, at least 12 rare species grow in spruce forests around the volcano, some of which are listed in the Red Book of Kamchatka Krai, Russia. And some, like, for example, boreal f felt lichen (Erioderma pedicellatum), are of particular value on a global scale. The fact is that spruce forests in the area of Nikolka and the Lazovsky site of the Kronotsky Reserve are one of four places in the world where this extremely rare lichenized fungi species is found.

“Regional authorities showed interest in creating a reserve in the Nikolka area, scientists have previously spoken about the need to protect this territory from anthropogenic influence. The WWF-Russia supported the initiative: we started a fundraiser for research and the preparation of scientific materials. Part of the required sum has already been collected thanks to the donations of our supporters. In the form of grants, these funds are used to implement the first phase of the project,” said Sergey Rafanov, director of the Kamchatka branch of WWF-Russia.

Previous expeditions that scientists conducted in 2014-2016 revealed serious threats to this cluster of ancient forests. First of all, we are talking about deforestation, as well as forest fires, which, for example, in the summer of 2016 destroyed over 190 hectares of forest. According to experts’ opinion, if a conservation status is not established over the territory, these forests will be completely destroyed in a few short years.

For additional information please contact
Head of WWF Kamchatka/Bering Sea Ecoregional Office