WHAT IS THE USSURI TAIGA

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.

Due to this special geographical position, history of climate change, and various geological reasons, a unique natural system was formed in the Amur basin. The region became home to the Amur tiger, the Amur leopard and hundreds of other rare and endemic species of animals and plants.

 

Today the Ussuri taiga is the world’s largest mixed cedar-broadleaf forest, situated in the south of the Russian Far East. An integral part of the Ussuri taiga is the Bikin River Valley, called «the Russian Amazon» for its virgin forest spanning more than a million hectares in the north of Primorsky Krai.

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