Sikhote-Alin – UNESCO World Heritage site

Edition #1

Medved-hunting-lease-Lazo district-PFomenko 2Photo by P.Fomenko

This will be the first of 23 editions of Russia’s UNESCO site. The first is the Sikhote-Alin this eco region is widely known as the last stronghold of Amur tiger, along with about 400 animals (90% of the remaining wild population) that still live within its boundaries. Some of these animals include reindeer and the Ussuri Brown Bear that coexists with tropical Amur leopard, Siberian tiger, and the Asiatic Black Bear.

0902globalecoregionsThe Sikhote-Alin Mountains,are made up primarily of mixed broad leaf species such as Manchurian ash, Japanese elm, and Japanese poplar this changes abruptly to Korean pine and broad leaf forests at higher elevations. Typical ground-cover found in the forest understory includes ginseng, a highly sought-after medicinal plant.

Sikhote Alin Eisenmeteorit 597

One event that occurred over the Sikhote-Alin in the not so distant past was when a meteorite fell over the area. This happened on the morning of February 12, 1947 over this remote forested area in eastern Siberia. The meteorite fall was one of the largest ever observed. About 70 metric tons of material fell out of the sky after a large bolide (a meteor) broke up in the Earth’s atmosphere. Due to the remoteness of the site, there were no human casualties or injuries, but the event provided an interesting glimpse into celestial events similar to the great 1908 Tunguska explosion, which also occurred over Siberia. The Sikhote-Alin meteorite event was significant enough that the Soviet government issued a postage stamp commemorating its 10th anniversary in 1957. The stamp itself was created by an eyewitness by the name of A.A.Medvedev.

Sikhote-Alin_stamp_1957The artist was painting a picture of his village in February 1947 from the roof of his house. Suddenly a huge fireball came whooshing through the sky and crashed in the forest nearby. Of course the artist put the meteor and its long, smoky tail in his painting. The original is in a museum in Moscow.

In 2001, UNESCO placed Sikhote-Alin onto the World Heritage List, citing its importance for “the survival of endangered species such as the scaly-sided (Chinese) merganser, Blakiston’s fish-owl and the Amur tiger.” The World Heritage site has a total area of 16,319 square kilometers (4,033,000 acres), of which the terrestrial core zone of Sikhote-Alin Zapovednik comprises 3,985 square kilometers (985,000 acres). The core zone can only be explored in a company of rangers.

The following video was originally filmed in Russian and later added English subtitles.

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