Vodlozero National Park - A National Treasure

The Vodlozero National Park is one of Russia’s beautiful nature reserves. It was nominated for inclusion as a natural World Heritage Site in 1996 but this inscription was unfortunately declined. The park covers some 0.58 million hectares and it features a number of complex archaeological memorials which are all concentrated in one small area. The more than fifty different sites were once the living area of two different cultures, enabling archaeologists to study the relationship and contact between two ancient tribes in this particular region. Currently efforts to include the park as a ‘cultural landscape’ on the World Heritage List are underway. If these efforts are successful, it is likely that this status will go a long way to the continued preservation of the area.

The two cultures which once inhabited the area are known as the Karelian and Kargopol. Apart from their settlements, a number of wooden buildings dating back to the 16th and 18th centuries can be found here. These buildings related to religion, civil purposes and stop-over points en route from Novgorod to the White Sea. Some of these buildings have already achieved World Heritage status and those that live here continue to live in harmony with nature as did their predecessors. Thus the site not only enjoys cultural and historical significance, but also gives an interesting lesson in the importance of striking a balance between man and nature.

The Vodlozero National Park and Nature Reserve enjoys an amazing abundance (600 000 ha) of undisturbed wetland taiga. A number of common and rare plants and animals are bred in the Vodlozero forests and scientists have recorded 414 species of plants and more than 50 species of mammals. Visitors to the park might be fortunate enough to see brown bear, wolf, wolverine, lynx, fox, mink, reindeer and badger. There are also roughly 180 species of birds which can be found in the park – 36 of which are considered to be very rare and endangered.

Other amazing features of this park complex are the inclusion of the world’s most ancient rocks which are said to date back 3 400 000 000 years. These rocks are plentiful in the park and their bald surfaces can be seen in numerous places as you explore it. Currently, the Vodlozero National Park is under threat from active logging which is taking place in an area nearby the park. The forests, which are being cut down for timber form part, of a unique, integrated natural system with the forests of the National Park and it is feared that logging practices here will cause a decline of natural value on the site. Though scientists and nature lovers refuse to give up hope, there is still much work to be done in order to adequately protect this beautiful natural area.

 



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