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Yuri Kukin:
"I am chasing distant hazes, Chasing fancies and the savours of Taiga…"
Photo: © WWF Russia / Oleg Kabalik
Unique diversity:
"Ussuri taiga is a forest where 1200 plant species of 93 genera and 112 families grow"
Photo: © WWF Russia / Dmitry Sychikov
Dmitrii Kaigorodov:
"I have been enamoured of the forest since I got to know it. The more I learn about it, the more I like it. And it always happens like this: to like something you have to know it; without knowing you can't like anything. And if you like the forest, you take care of it"
Photo: © WWF Russia / Vasilii Solkin
Did you know?
"Taiga is the largest terrestrial biome in the world. It covers approximately 27% of all the forest areas on Earth. The total area of taiga is 15,000,000 km2"
Photo: © WWF Russia / Oleg Kabalik
Anton Chechov
"Forests teach people to understand the beauty"
Photo: © WWF Russia / Vasilii Solkin
The boundless sea of the taiga
"Only with the bird's eye view you can see a breathtaking sight of the interminable taiga, harsh mountain ranges, beckoning rivers with refreshing springs."
Photo: © WWF Russia / Evgenii Kolbovsky

The Ussuri taiga is an extraordinary ecosystem, unique not only to Russia but also to the whole world. In fact, the forest in the southern part of the Amur River and its largest tributary of the Ussuri River is mixed, with both conifer and broad-leaved trees. But the name «Ussuri Taiga» (which means «coniferous forest of the Ussuri river») was given to it by the early settlers a century and a half ago, when they saw it for the first time, and were struck by the endless variety and richness of the forest. They also called Korean pine «a cedar» and Manchurian fir «a black fir-tree». The first Russian explorers of this area were surprised by the cohabitation of Manchurian walnut and Amur corcktree with spruce and fir entwined by vines, amazed by the trails of sables near the trails of yellow-throated martens, trails of moose and the Amur tiger, presence of both the polar owl and the pheasant.

But how can we explain this Ussuri natural phenomenon? Several tens of millions of years ago, the climate here was hot and humid, and the ground was covered with lush deciduous forests inhabited by heat-loving animals. Then from the north a glacier started to advance. This massive glacier covered much of Eurasia during the Ice age, but did not reach the Ussuri region. Nevertheless, the effects of glaciation became evident, as the climate got colder. Southern plants and animals adapted to progressively more severe conditions, and the representatives of the northern flora and fauna settled among them.

The Ussuri taiga has one of the most complex structures and development histories among all of the Russian forests. Here Japanese yew and Amur corcktree grow side by side, and a variety of endemic plants, including the famous ginseng, the devil’s high, and the Manchurian Aralia thrive. Among the unique gifts of the Ussuri taiga are pine nuts, ferns, Actinidia or «wild kiwi», Amur grape, Chinese magnolia vine, Eleuterococus and many other plants.

Korean pine is the main tree of the Ussuri taiga. It grows up to 50 meters in height and lives up to 500 years. The virgin forest of the Bikin River Valley remains largely intact, and when it comes to the the variety of species of flora it’s unparalleled in the north of Asia. This is the last large untouched woodland of cedar-broadleaf forests in the world. Mixed ash-elm forests of the valley alternate with age-old pines, among which grow lindens and maples, Manchurian walnuts and Amur maackias, Ussuri pears and Siberian and Manchurian apple trees, Korean spruces, Manchurian firs, Dahurian rhododendrons, Amur lilacs, rowans, hazels, honeysuckles and bird cherries, wild roses, currants, raspberries, barberries and many other species of trees and shrubs. Among the unique species, Schlippenbach’s rhododendron, orchids (Calypso bulbosa, Cypripedium calceolus and the Large-flowered Cypripedium), and a relict Tertiary tree Kalopanax are worth the mention.

The fauna of the Ussuri taiga has no peers in Russia. It is home to about 80 species of mammals, from shrews and hedgehogs to bears and tigers. This is the only place in our country where you can meet four wild cats: the Amur leopard, the Amur tiger, the lynx and the Far Eastern forest cat. In the taiga brown bears can meet their southern counterpart, the Himalayan bear. Here you can find Amur gorals, sika deers, martens, Manchurian hares and other endemic, rare and endangered animal species.

The master of the cedar-broadleaf forests is the Amur tiger, one of the largest predators on the planet. It has a thick, long and fluffy red fur with black stripes on the skin, the amount of which reaches 100. It is believed that the pattern of these stripes is individual and the two tigers will never have the same stripes. Next door to the tiger lives the Amur leopard, the northernmost leopard subspecie, the only one who has learned to live and hunt in the snow, and the rarest big cat on the planet.


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