Voronezh State Nature Biosphere Reserve named after Vasily Peskov

This year, the Voronezh State Nature Biosphere Reserve named after Vasily Peskov celebrates 100 years since its foundation. Its history dates back to 1923, when a group of scientists from Moscow found several beaver settlement areas along the small local river of Usmanka. Back then, these valuable fur-bearing animals were believed to have been hunted down to complete extinction in Russia. In 1932, the world’s first experimental beaver nursery was established in the Voronezh Reserve for breeding and studying beavers. Thanks to the nursery, the population of these animals has been restored, and currently half of the 500,000 beavers living in Russia are of Voronezh origin. The Voronezh Nature Reserve is known for its achievements in trapping and resettlement of the European red deer and wild boar. The institution has also made a significant contribution to the development of biological methods of insect pest control. The territory of the reserve is located on the border of the Voronezh and Lipetsk regions and occupies the northern half of insular wooded lands called the Usman Forest. The forest is largely made of pine trees, but it also has large aspen, oak and birch groves. The Usman Forest is the only place in the Voronezh region where one can find blueberries, the plant that normally grows in taiga areas. Therefore, the local botanists have included this species in the regional Red Book. The Voronezh Nature Reserve is home to moose, wild boars, European red deer, and roe deer. The predators are wolves and foxes. The most diverse group of animals are rodents, represented in the reserve by 23 species. The largest and most prominent rodent is the river beaver. Currently, more than 300 beavers inhabit rivers Usman and Ivnitsa, as well as floodplain lakes and swamps, and sometimes even small streams. In 1984, the Voronezh Nature Reserve received the status of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. In 2013, the reserve was awarded the Green Tourism Environmental Responsibility Badge for its outstanding work in education, development, and promotion of ecotourism. That award was well-deserved: the Voronezh Nature Reserve features a Nature Museum with unique objects on display, a two-level Beaver Aquarium, and the ecological trail that all visitors can walk.

Tatiana Borisova