Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve (Russian: Печо́ро-И́лычский заповедник) is a vast wilderness reserve of 7,213 square kilometers in the southeast of the Komi Republic. It is home to Manpupuner rock formations — one of the Seven Wonders of Russia, and together with the enormous Yugyd Va National Park comprises the Virgin Komi Forests, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and largest virgin forest in Europe.
The reserve sits on the western slope of the Ural Mountains and is situated around the confluence of the Pechora River with its tributary, the Ilyich.
Russian geographer A.A. Korchagin divided the area of the reserve into five natural regions:
The Pechora lowlands: pine forests, pine forested swamps, and moss swamps. There are few spruce forests in that area. This region includes the Gusinoe Bolota (Goose Swamp), a peat bog that occupies around 3 km2, with the peat deposits some 5–6 meters deep. The piedmont (foothills) region, dominated by forests of shade-loving species: Siberian spruce, Siberian pine, and Siberian fir. There are abundant forested swamps there, but hardly any moss swamps.
The Upper Ilych lowland: this region is surrounded by the Urals highlands and mountains and has particularly severe climate. The slow-growing forest there is classified as boreal taiga.
Upper Pechora River and Bear Stone Mountain; Pechora-Ilych Reserve
The Ural Mountains, the area that is the least studied but has the greatest variety of landscapes. It includes the piedmont forest belt (fir and spruce), up to 300–350 meters in elevation. Above it, up to 600 m elevation, is the subalpine forest belt, where firs and spruces are gradually replaced with birch forests and subalpine meadows. The tree line is at 550–650 m elevation, although there are occasional firs at the elevations as high as 800 m or even higher. Above the tree line, alpine meadows and then tundra are found.
The valleys of the Pechora, Ilych, and their tributaries.
Flora and fauna
Moose, beavers, squirrels, pine martens are abundant in the reserve. Sables are known to live in the piedmont forest region of the reserve. The wild reindeer have almost disappeared after the loss of the pine forest section of the reserve in 1951, and consequent habitat destruction.
The large predators include brown bears, wolves, and wolverines. Ten mustelid species make the reserve their home, from the largest, the wolverine, to the least weasel, as well as the ermine, the American and European mink, the pine marten, the sable, and the Siberian weasel.
Fees and permits
- 1 Manpupuner rock formations (Маньпупунёр столбы́ выве́тривания).