UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites in Russia

Have you ever seen the majestic mountains and peaceful valleys, winding rivers and endless forests that took your breath away? There are many such places on Earth. Unique territories, which are important to preserve in their original form, are on the World Natural Heritage List.

State nature reserves and national parks are among the World Heritage sites. Landscapes vary from alpine lakes, glaciers, arctic tundras to alpine meadows, taiga, vast steppes and even volcanoes.

It is not only incredibly beautiful places, but also home to many species of animals and plants, rare and even endemic – those that are not found anywhere else in the world. One of the examples is the Amur tiger and the Daur magazine. Some plants on the territory of natural monuments are more than one hundred years old. The age of cedar in the Pritetska taiga is more than six centuries.

An object is included in the list if it meets at least one of the criteria:

(VII) is a natural phenomenon or space of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.

(VIII) reflects the main stages of the Earth’s history, symbolizing geological processes in the development of the relief or its features

(IX) reflects ecological or biological processes in the evolution of animals, plants and other organisms

(X) includes a significant natural habitat for the conservation of biological diversity and endangered species of exceptional global value

UNESCO Natural Heritage Sites in Russia

Pristine forests of Komi

The largest unspoilt forests in Europe extend over 32,600 km². This is about 3 km² more than the area of Belgium. Komi Forest is the first Russian site to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is home to a brown bear, sable, elk, more than 200 species of birds, including red-booked birds, and valuable species of fish – palae loach and Siberian grayling.

Lake Baikal

The reservoir of the largest lake in Russia is almost 19% of the world’s fresh water supply. The water in Lake Baikal is so clean that some rocks on the bottom can be seen even at the depth of 40 meters.

Epicure, a unique crayfish that consumes organics, provides much purity. In general, there are about 2600 animals in Baikal, more than half of which are endemic. On the shores of the reservoir there are forests and swamps, glacial lakes, circuses and canyons. There are more than 800 species of higher plants.

Volcanoes of Kamchatka

Another unique place is the Uzon caldera. 40,000 years ago, several consecutive eruptions caused the huge volcano to collapse and in its place a caldera with a diameter of 10 km was formed. It is located on the territory of the Kronotsky Reserve and combines rivers, hot springs, tundra, forests and lakes in one landscape.

In summer you can see Kamchatka volcanoes during a trekking or helicopter tour. Do you want to make cool shots with frozen lava streams, dead forests and ice caves? Go on a photo tour in the fall. You can also take a trip to the peninsula for a winter vacation.

Golden Mountains of Altai

The Altai Reserve and the Teletskoye Lake buffer zone, the Katunsky Reserve and the Belukha Mountain buffer zone, as well as the Ukok Plateau became World Heritage sites. On their territory there are taiga, steppe, mountain tundra and glaciers, meadows and plateaus. If in one trip to Altai you want to see all the most picturesque places, then choose a car tour.

Western Caucasus

The West Caucasus was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999. The Krasnodar Territory, Adygeya, Karachay-Cherkessia and part of the Main Caucasian Range from Mount Fisht to Elbrus fall under this definition. The site includes mountains of the “three thousandths”, quaint rocks, deep gorges, caves, glaciers and alpine lakes.

Central Sikhote-Alin

Sikhote Alin in eastern Russia – a mix of coniferous and broad-leaved trees, taiga and subtropics, southern and northern animal species. Here, for example, you can find both Himalayan and brown bears. Primorye is a whole world of relics and endemics, where groves of relic yews grow, carpets of red-listed lotuses bloom and rhododendrons – local cherry trees – bloom. Protected coves with white beaches hide sea stars and flocks of coloured fish.

Ubsunur basin

This site includes Lake Ubsu-Nur, which belongs simultaneously to Mongolia and Russia (Republic of Tuva). It is the largest lake in Mongolia and the Russian part of the lake is only 0.3% of the total area. It has contrasting landscapes – high mountains, massifs of mountain taiga, forest-steppe, steppe and semi-desert areas. There is even a real sandy desert. The surroundings of the lake were inhabited several thousand years ago.

Wrangel and Herald Islands

In the very north of Russia, where the Chukchi Sea meets the Arctic Ocean, there are the gloomy and mountainous islands of Wrangel (7.6 thousand km²) and Herald (11 km²). In severe conditions, where turbulent life seems impossible, there are hundreds of plant species – more than on any other Arctic island. Among the blackening rocks walruses have settled in the largest rookery in the Arctic, and thousands of birds have made their nests.

Putorana Plateau

On the map of Russia, the Putorana Plateau is located just beyond the Arctic Circle, in the geographical center of our country. A cobweb of power lines can’t reach here, only satellite phones have connection, and not a soul for many kilometers around. The territory of the plateau is on the UNESCO list since 2010. It is as if someone carefully cut the peaks from the mountains here, and the lakes are hundreds of kilometers long, reminiscent more of fjords.

Lena Pillars

Lena Pillars Nature Park was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012. The park consists of two branches: “Pillars” and “Sinsky”. Just imagine: stone towers and arches, bridges and grottoes, beasts and birds. And all this was created not by man, but by nature. Such rock formations of different shapes follow the Lena River in a chain.

Landscapes of Dauria

This is the only ecoregion in the world where dark coniferous forests are transformed into temperate continental meadows and a humid climate is replaced by arid ones. The territory of this site is partly in Russia, partly in Mongolia. It has one of the longest flyways in the world, so the site is very important for migratory birds.

The region is home to such rare species of fauna as the Daurian crane and bustard. The forces of water and wind created pillars about 100 meters high (and in some places all 220) several centuries ago.