|United Nations Environment Programme|
|World Conservation Monitoring Centre|
World Heritage Sites
UVS NUUR BASIN, RUSSIAN FEDERATION (TUVA) & MONGOLIABrief description: The Uvs Nuur Basin is an ancient lake bed in the centre of Asia, remote, enclosed and almost pristine. Its twelve protected areas have all of east central Asias’s major biomes relatively close together: cold desert, desert-steppe, steppe, taiga, alpine tundra, boreal, deciduous and floodplain forests, saltmarshes and snow fields. It centres round the salt lake of Uvs Nuur, attracts a great range of birds, and harbors rare animal species such as snow leopard and argali sheep.
COUNTRY Russian Federation, Republic of Tuva and Mongolia
NAME Uvs Nuur Basin
IUCN MANAGEMENT CATEGORY II
Natural World Heritage Cluster Site, inscribed in 2003: Natural criteria ii, iv.
BIOGEOGRAPHICAL PROVINCE Mongolian-Manchurian Steppe (2.30.11). Altai Highlands (2.35.11)
GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION The site comprises two adjacent reserve clusters, the Uvs Nuur basin in Mongolia and the Ubsunur Hollow in Russia. They surround Lake Uvs (Ubsunur) in far northwestern Mongolia on the southern border of Siberia in Tuva province. The lake is 760km west of Irkutsk ; the basin lies between 49°46’ - 50°40’N and 90°12 - 95°38E.
DATE AND HISTORY OF ESTABLISHMENT
AREA 1,068,853.5 ha. Ubsunur Hollow, Russia total: 258,620 ha, core: 87,830 ha + buffer:170,790 ha. Uvs Nuur, Mongolia total: 810,233.5 ha. [Buffer zone of 476,411ha excluded.]
LAND TENURE State. Ubsunur Hollow is in the Russian districts of Mongun-Taiga Kojuun, Ovur Kojuun, Tes-Khem Kojuun and Ersin Kojuun. Uvs Nuur is in the Mongolian districts of Uvs Aimag, Zavhan Aimag, and Huvsgul Aimag. The reserves are managed by the Ubsunur Hollow and Uvs Nuur administrations.
ALTITUDE 759m (Lake Uvs) to 4116m ( Mt.Turgen)
PHYSICAL FEATURES Uvs Nuur is the name of a transboundary cluster of reserves in and around the Uvs Nuur (Lake Ubsunur) Basin in Mongolia in the centre of the Asian continent. The basin is a semi-arid depression just south of the arc of the Tannu-Ola mountains on the Russian border which mark the southern edge of Siberia. It is flanked on the west by outliers of the High Altai mountains, on the east by the Sangilen highlands and in the south by the Türgen Uul massif and Khankhökhiy range. The area lies within the Mongolian steppe but brings relatively close together every ecosystem of the area between desert and floodplain to glaciers. The sharp delineation of such close but disparate areas is unusual. Of the twelve sites, three are in high mountains: Mongun Taiga, Tsagaan Shuvuut and Turgen; two are in lower mountains: Aryskannyg and Ular; one is an inselberg: Yamaalyg; two are desert: Tsugeer els and Altan els; three, Ubsu-Nur, Oroku-Shinaa and Tes River, are wetland and one is Uvs Nuur lake itself.
CLIMATE The climate is extreme continental with warm summers and long very cold winters. The average summer temperatures are 20-22°C, the average winter temperature between -32°-35°with frost for 6 to 7½ months and a maximum touching -55°C. The snowline is at about 2700m. The diurnal temperature range is the highest in Asia. The basin is in the rain shadow of the Tannu-Ola mountains and precipitation is only 150-200mm, 70-80% of it falling in summer showers and thunderstorms. Evaporation exceeds this by four to five times. The growing season (above 10°C) is from early May to late September. Conditions are changeable in spring and autumn and fluctuate from year to year in six to seven year cycles. The topographic effect of the basin is climatic layering with altitude: hot air from the bottom is blown or rises up and condenses on the surrounding mountains resulting in the unusual close proximity of desert and taiga. The basin is a station in the IGBP program for monitoring global warming.
VEGETATION This cluster of reserves lies between the biogeographical provinces of the High Altai, Mongolian Steppe, and the Siberian Taiga. The area contains a great diversity of ecosystems within a relatively small area: cold desert, sand dunes, semi-desert, desert steppe, shrub steppe, wetlands, salty marshes, floodplain forest, deciduous and boreal forests, taiga, alpine meadows and tundra. 552 plant species are recorded, 234 of them restricted to the mountains of southern Siberia and northern Mongolia; 52 are relict species, 19 are recorded as endemic to Mongolia and Tuva, but only five are endemic to Uvs Nuur: Astrogalus polozhinae, Juncus salsuginous ssp.tuvinicum, Stipa barhanica, Asragalus tuvinicus and Zygophyllum pterocaprum ssp.tuvinicum. The vegetation zones are clearly layered by altitude.
FAUNA The fauna is diverse reflecting the diversity of habitats; it also has a high degree of endemism owing to its isolation. In all, 4 species of insectivora, 4 bats, 5 lagomorphs, 32 rodents, 18 carnivores, 9 artiodactyla, 5 lizards and 3 snakes are recorded in the Tuvan reserves, among them 22 locally rare species of mammal. 41 species of mammal are recorded for the Mongolian portion. The mountainous Mongun Taiga, Tsagan Shuvuut and Turgen Uul are strictly protected areas, being the habitat of the snow leopard Uncia uncia (EN) at the northern margin of its Mongolian range; also of Tartarian roedeer Capreolus pygargus, Altai argali Ovis ammon (VU), the world's largest sheep, and Altai marmot Marmota baibacina (EN). There are also Siberian ibex Capra ibex sibirica, and musk deer Moschus moschiferus (VU), Pallas's cat (manul) Otocolobus manul, Mongolian (bobak) marmot Marmota sibirica, Altai snow-cock Tetraogallus altaiacus, bearded and black vultures Gypaetus barbatus and Aegypius monarchus. Typical tundra species are reindeer Rangifer tarandus, alpine willow-grouse Lagopus lagopus and Mongolian plover Charadrius mongolus; taiga species include brown bear Ursus arctos, wolverine Gulo gulo (VU), common otter Lutra lutra (VU), lynx Felis lynx (EN), wild boar Sus scrofa, Siberian elk (maral) Cervus elaphus songaricus, capercailzie Tetrao urogallus and tawny owl Strix aluco. Steppe forest species include red wolf Cuon alpinus (VU), and steppe species, marbled polecat Vormela peregusna and the rare Mongolian gazelle Procapra gutturosa. In the mountain of Yamaalig booted eagle Hieraaetus pennatus, and rock partridge Alectoris graeca nest.
CULTURAL HERITAGE There is a long history of nomadic occupation in the region dating from Paleolithic times and large numbers of historical artifacts to prove it. These include ancient burial mounds (kurgans), carved stone steles and rock drawings in the southern part of the Yamaalig massif; also evidence of more recent occupation by Buddhist monasteries and the military. Many aspects of the traditional nomadic lifestyle still persist uncontaminated by modern development.
LOCAL HUMAN POPULATION The seven sites of the nominated area in the Republic of Tuva are scattered among four administrative districts with a population of 35,100 people who formerly lived on collective farms and in small now settled cattle herding communities. But conditions have deteriorated as a result of political change and the need to adjust from state farms to a market economy. There are environmental education programs based on traditional conservation ethics such as respect for sacred areas which are in effect nature sanctuaries. The Mongolian side of the border has little more than 1,000 herdsmen, still dominated by a semi-nomadic pastoralism under great strain from the effects of long drought on herds vastly enlarged since they were privatised in 1972.
VISITORS AND VISITOR FACILITIES Environmental and ethnic tourism are beginning to develop, based on the scenery such as climbing on glaciated Mount Mongun-Taiga and on the nomadic lifestyle and its artifacts both present-day and historical. The granite inselberg of Yamaalyg is especially rich in burial mounds, petroglyphs, steles and effigies. Routes have already been planned for short scientific tours, by car, on foot, on horseback and by bicycle. Visitor numbers are slowly increasing, especially through school and government programs, and a visitors' center is being developed. But access to the basin is not easy, and a plan, management, infrastructure and facilities for tourism are not yet in place.
SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND FACILITIES The basin's remoteness, enclosed character, dynamic physical processes, possession of all the major biomes of central Asia with their diversity, and traditional pastoralism make it a natural subject for biophysical and genetic research. The area been investigated for many years but from 1984 the lake and basin have been the subject of the Ubsunur Experiment, a Russian-Mongolian program to study the area using satellite information and mathematical modeling with minimal ground truthing. This has involved the cooperation with Mongolian government scientist of twelve Russian universities, academic and teachers' training institutes, and academics from six foreign countries, including NASA. Seven biennial international symposia, three major publications and 12 research projects into glaciers, soils, ecosystems and rare animals have been sponsored. In 1997 the basin was designated a Biosphere Reserve and one of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme study areas for research into global change, also into its wildlife and wetlands. The Ubsunur International Centre for Biospheric Research (UIC), established by the Tuvan government, and guided by the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Science, coordinates this research.
CONSERVATION VALUE The Uvs Nuur Basin is an ancient lake bed in the centre of Asia, remote, enclosed and almost pristine. Its twelve protected areas have all of east central Asias's major biomes relatively close together: cold desert, desert-steppe, steppe, taiga, alpine tundra, boreal, deciduous and floodplain forests, saltmarshes and snow fields. It centres round the salt lake of Uvs Nuur, attracts a great range of birds, and harbors rare species such as snow leopard and argali sheep.
CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT Most of the basin is dry steppe which has never been subjected to high human impacts, though there are considerable tracts of unusable desert and saline land. A full management plan has been drawn up for the seven Russian protected areas plus Tsagaan-Shuvuut which outline three zones: core, buffer or sanctuary and restricted land use. In the core zones no hunting or taking of animals is permitted. In the buffer zones, buildings for research, visitors and land uses and techniques compatible with conservation monitoring are allowed. In restricted areas traditional grazing, limited agriculture, licensed hunting and organised tourism are permitted, but no mining or salt extraction. Many Tuvan authorities are involved in the conservation of these areas and the sites themselves are protected and monitored by field inspectors and rangers.
MANAGEMENT CONSTRAINTS The abandonment of the rotation of grazing in remote pastures in Tuva has led to the destructive concentration of herds at wintering camps and around watering points. There is no plan to control this degradation. The competition of livestock for wild animal grazing and the public's limited respect for wildlife are major threats: ibex, Pallas's cat (manul) and bobak marmot are especially targeted. Overgrazing, especially of the desert steppe around Ulangom in Mongolia, over-hunting, deforestation, soil erosion and destruction, and farming and building in fragile areas are all present. Inspectors and rangers monitor and try to limit poaching, illegal logging, plant-gathering, grazing in core protected areas and fires. But there is a lack of funding, equipment and a central monitoring database which limits the control of the increasing number of forest fires. There is inadequate scientific support staff for and communication with the rangers and inspectors in the field, who lack sufficient training, pay, funding and equipment and whose motivation and effectiveness suffer as a result. There is also at present inadequate communication between the public and local governments and between the Russian and Mongolian reserve staffs.
STAFF The Ubsunur International Centre has 10 employees of which six are graduate scientists. The Biosphere Sanctuary, excluding field inspectors and rangers, has 38 members of staff of which over half are graduate scientists. Training of staff has been assisted by the UN, WWF and the US Peace Corps.
BUDGET The UIC annual budget from the Tuvinian government was 253,000 rubles (US$9,035 @ 28:1) in 1999 and the Sanctuary received 839,000 rubles from the Federal government and 36,900 rubles from the GEF (totalling US$31,282 @ 28:1). Implementation of the Russian protected areas management plan was expected to need 159,125 in 2004 and, over time, 175,640 for administrative, field and scientific equipment. [The currency was unspecified: if it is rubles, this is a very low level of funding].
The Director, Uvs Nuur Basin Strictly Protected Areas Administration Center, Ulaangom, Uvs Aimag, Mongolia. uvsnuumagicnet.mn.
The Director, Uvs Nuur International Center for Biosphere Research, Internalionaya 1 I7A, Kyzyl, Tuva, Russian Federation. e-mail: email@example.com.
Government of the Russian Federation & the Government of Mongolia (2001). Nomination. Uvs Nuur Basin Nature Complex, Russia (Tuva) and Mongolia. For Inscription on the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List.
Ubsunur International Centre for Biospheric Research et al. 2000. Basin of Ubsu-Nur (Uvs Nuur) Ubsunur Hollow (Tyva Repubic - Russia). Management Plan.
DATE November 2003.
|© UNEP-WCMC | FAQs | Contact Us | Site Map|