In July-August a research expedition group worked in forests of the Altai Kray. Its purpose was to examine wildlife preserves in order to find rare species of raptors, discover the more valuable forest areas, where these birds nest, and map them, as well as to design especially protected forest areas. The expedition revealed that 22 nesting territories of rare bird species were destroyed. The damage, according to the Russian Ministry of Nature’s rate totals about 7 million rubles.
During the last 2 years ecologists (from the Gebler Ecological Society, Barnaul; and Siberian Environmental Center, Novosibirsk) have been trying get permission to establish especially protected areas in the Altai Kray forests, where, according to the law, cutting trees would be strictly limited. Such area would be a guarantee of saving of the rare animal species in Altai forests, destruction of which violates not only human values, but also laws of the Altai Kray and the Russian Federation.
Pine forests of the Altai Kray are unique natural territories: due to a combination of swamps, lakes and pine areas, some trees in which are 200-250 years old, they offer favorable nesting conditions for practically all large raptors included in the Red Books of Russia and the Altai Kray. These raptors include large birds, such as the White-Tailed Eagle, the Golden Eagle, the Eastern Imperial Eagle, the Greater Spotted Eagle, and the Eurasian Eagle Owl, which dwell in old trees.
Such full-scale researches are carried out by the Siberian Environmental Center specialists regularly. For the first time these forests were examined in 2003, when more than a 1000 nesting places of rare scavenger birds and owls were found. The research of 2012 is focused on the check of known and finding of new nesting areas on the wildlife preserves territories. However, the very first examined preserve – Mamontovsky (Mammoth) – has shown that the situation has changed dramatically in the past 9 years: the most valuable territories for birds – with old pines – almost all were found cut down in the last 2 years. The same situation is seen in other preserves as well, particularly in Zavyalovsky. The Zavyalovsky preserve has suffered from cuts most of all, and is likely to lose all it value in 2 years, even though it used to be the only territory in the world with such a high density of the Eurasian Eagle Owl and the Greater Spotted Eagle population.
Cutting in the preserves has been going on right during the expedition, during June-July, when the birds’ nestlings are still in the nests, and the ones who have left the nest stay close to it and are, too, fed by the parents. Destruction of the nests leads to the death of the rare birds’ posterity, and the cutting of trees causes the nesting to end.
It is dazzling, that the barbarian destruction of the forests is going on exactly in the wildlife preserves, created to save forest ecosystems and rare animals! Moreover, it’s done not by some poachers who would sell the wood illegally. Cutting, and, hence, the destruction of the rare birds’ nests is sanctioned by the regional forest administration. One forest warden we met in on the preserves has said, that the norms of cutting on his territory have quadrupled in the last 2 years, and he was just going to select another area, rented by someone, for cutting. According to him, if this kind of thing persists, in 3 years there’ll be nothing to cut on his territory anymore
What is it: a purposeful policy of the forest administration of the Altai Krai to destroy the forest biological diversity and rare animal species?
Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) - sets up nests on the ground near large pines (over 100 years old), on the shores of lakes and swamps.Even trees on swamps are cut down.