A protected area is a clearly defined geographical space, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values. (IUCN Definition 2008). Protected areas have played an important role in biodiveristy conservation in the Caucasus for nearly a century. There are several different categories of protected areas in the region: strict nature reserves, national parks, sanctuaries, nature parks, and others.
The first strict nature reserve in the Russian Caucasus (Kavkazskiy) was established in 1924. Today, Russia has 6 strict nature reserves and 3 national parks in the North Caucasus. Despite the relatively high density of protected areas in the North Caucasus, the current network is insufficient to conserve a representative portion of the unique biodiversity of the Caucasus Ecoregion, much less save threatened ecosystems. Large gaps between the reserves do not allow animals to migrate naturally and without interference from humans. Scientists are calling for creation a green corridor along the Greater Caucasus Range to link existing protected areas.
Increasing of coverage of protected areas and establishing ecological network (Econet) in the Russian part of Caucasus are the main goal of WWF-Russia activities.
The flora of the reserve is including 117 endemic plant species and 16 species of Tertiary relicts which are growing in the Utrish relic juniper-pistachio forests only. More than 380 plant species are included in the Red Data Book of Krasnodar Region. The reserve territory is very important conservation of rare insect species. About 100 insect species include in the Red Data Book and 13 from them live only there. Also some rare species of the Mediterranean butterflies live in this reserve.
As a result of extension of Sochinskiy National Park two of its clusters are united into whole territory. Sochi National Park holds a leading position among the protected areas of Russia by quantity of rare and endangered species of plants. The fauna of national park include 17 rare avian species, 2 reptile species, 2 amphibious and some species of insects. Besides, in the territory of park situated 114 historical and cultural monuments from the Lower Paleolithic to the Late Middle Ages: settlements, dolmens, tombs, remains of fortresses, medieval temples, and burials.
As a result of extension of the territory of the Erzi Strict Nature Reserve protection of the Dzheyrakhsko-Assinsky Depression is improved. This territory is very important habitats for large game, particularly bezoar goat. There are more than 180 rare plant species. Of rare bird species, the Caucasian snow cock, golden eagle, and peregrine falcon, among others, have been registered. The reserve contains unique natural sites of high scientific and aesthetic value (a rare subspecies of forest pine Pinus sylvestris spp. Hamata; the Shoansky Glacier; a sea buckthorn grove; the Assa River Canyon, etc.), as well as numerous historic and cultural landmarks.
The nature park protects hundreds of animal and plants species, including Caucasian black grouse, bearded vulture, griffon vulture, eastern imperial eagle, and bezoar goat. The territory of park includes intact natural landscapes and number of cultural and historical monuments.
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