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Bioregion 13 - Amur-Sakhalin

Established: 1935/1957
Area: 121,000 ha (1,210km2)
Buffer Zone: 16,900 ha (169 km2)
Laptev, Aleksandr Aleksandrovich, Director

ul. Tsentralnaya, 56, s. Lazo, Primorsky Krai, Russia 692890
Tel: +7 (42377) 9-11-37
Fax: +7 (42377) 9-11-30
Email:  lazovzap@mail.primorye.ru
Website: http://lazovzap.dvo.ru
Lazovsky Zapovednik

Petrov Island

© 2004 Vladimir Medvedev

The gentle mountains of the Sikhote-Alin Range suddenly become jagged when they reach the southern edge of Russia ’s Primorsky Krai. The sheer peaks of the Zapovedny Ridge jut into the sky to 1,000 meters above sea level, sending mountain streams cascading into the Sea of Japan. Here, in the watershed of the Kievka River, lies Lazovsky Zapovednik. Particularly noted for the protection it offers sika deer and goral, this nature reserve also boasts diverse flora and many relict plants.




Articles featuring this nature reserve in Russian Conservation News journal:

Can ecotourism deliver its promises?, RCN #25, page 32, 2001

Images of Lazovsky Zapovednik

Click on each photo to see a large version.

Mandarin duck

© 2004 Vladimir Medvedev

The Mandarin duck nests in tree hollows at water’s edge.



© 2004 Vladimir Medvedev

Waters of the Sea of Japan lap at the coast in Uglovaya Bay.



© 2004 Vladimir Medvedev

Lazovsky is one of the last habitats of the endangered goral.



© 2004 Vladimir Medvedev

Actias artemis is one of a diverse range of butterflies in the region.


Amur tiger

© 2004 Vladimir Medvedev

This mighty Amur tiger is out on the prowl at night.



Sika deer

© 2004 Vladimir Medvedev

Sika deer are an important part of the Amur tiger’s diet.



© 2004 Vladimir Medvedev

Sables are small but fierce predators.



© 2004 Vladimir Medvedev

The rare Sikhote rhododendron is found on slopes along the coast.


Lazovsky Zapovednik Facts:

AnimalsVegetationGeographical FeaturesConservation StatusReferences


Lazovsky Zapovednik is particularly important for its role in protecting large mammals in their natural habitat. The goral ( Nemorhaedus caudatus ), a shaggy, goat-like antelope, is endangered in Russia but has thrived in the reserve. These unique animals chew (but do not necessarily eat) seaweed to extract minerals, and are able to drink seawater. Most at home on rocky cliffs, they traverse the zapovednik’s precipitous slopes to evade predators, including the rare Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), which has been spotted in the area hunting gorals.

The zapovednik also protects some of the last fully wild populations of sika deer (Cervus nippon hortulorum), providing a valuable opportunity to study the animals in the wild. Though they prefer oak forests, the deer have been known to leap into the ocean and swim for over half an hour a kilometer away from shore to escape hungry wolves (Canis lupes).

Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus), recognizable by the distinctive white fur on their chests, are common the oak and broadleaf forests that comprise the majority of the territory of the zapovednik. Avid climbers, the bears feast on acorns before they fall to the ground, where badgers (Meles meles), Manchurian hares (Lepus brachyurus), squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris), and other rodents find them. Wapati (Cervus elaphus xanthopygus) and wild boars (Sus scrofa) are also common in the zapovednik’s oak forests; lynxes (Lynx lynx) are more rare.

Sable (Martes zibellina) prefers forests that are at least partly coniferous. Several decades ago, the animal was nearly extinct in the southern Sikhote-Alin, but is now common in parts of the zapovednik. Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are common throughout the reserve, and otters (Lutra lutra) are found near the zapovednik’s secluded bays.

Forest-meadow areas are the favorite habitat of roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), along with striped field mice (Apodemus agrarius), reed voles (Microtus fortis), and harvest mice (Micromys minutus). These meadow species live side by side with typical forest animals such as Korean field mice (Apodemus peninsulae), gray red-backed voles (Clethrionomys rufocanus), and Siberian chipmunks (Tamias sibiricus). Raccoon-dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) and Siberian weasels (Mustela sibirica) also live here, and the forest-meadow is likewise the favored habitat of the extremely rare Amur wildcat (Felis euptilura).

Nuthatches ( Sitta europaea ), yellow-throated, yellow-breasted and black-faced buntings ( Emberiza elegans , E. aureola, E. spodocephala) , crowned willow-warblers ( Phylloscopus coronatus ), Siberian blue robins ( Luscinia cyane ), pale thrushes ( Turdus pallidus ) and jays ( Garrulus glandarius ) form the heart of the avian world of the zapovednik’s forests. Other common birds include the yellow and gray wagtail ( Motacilla flava , M. cinerea ), stonechat ( Saxicola torquata ) , and Richard’s prit ( Anthus richardi ).

Pacific swifts (Apus pacificus) form colonies in rock outcroppings that house several thousand birds. Closer to shore, Japanese cormorants ( Phalacrocorax filamentosus ) build colonies of 30-50 nests; they share this space with small colonies of spectacled guillemot (Cepphus carbo). The blue rockthrush (Monticola solitarius) is a common but distinctive bird found along the rocky shoreline. The males are particularly beautiful, with deep blue back and rust-colored belly, a contrast of colors that distinguishes this east-Asian subspecies from its relatives. White-tailed eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) are not common, but do nest on the reserve’s Petrov Island . Avian life along the coastline is particularly active in the spring and fall, when waterfowl migrate through the reserve. Thousands of ducks can be seen collected in flocks of 100 to 200 birds. The endangered Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata) is particularly a common bird in the spring migrations.

The wide river valleys that define the zapovednik’s border in several areas are a unique blend of meadows, grassy bogs, fields with shrubs and small groves of trees—and a completely different set of animals, especially with regards to amphibians. Black-spotted frogs ( Rana nigromaculata ) live in quiet rivers and pools. The frog Rana semiplicata , common and Siberian sand toads (Bufo bufo, B. raddei) are common in these areas of reserve. Oriental firebellied toads ( Bombina orientalis ) are a particularly notable species in the zapovednik on account of their brightly colored markings .

Amphibians are an important food source for grass snakes ( Rhabdophis tigrina ), Dione ratsnakes ( Elaphe dione ) and mamushi ( Agkistrodon blomhoffi ). Non-poisonous snakes include the r ed-backed ratsnake (Elaphe rufodorsata) , and Russian (Amur) rat snake (Elaphe schrenki).



Forests cover 96% of the land area of Lazovsky Zapovednik, representing primarily “Manchurian” species, which approach the northern borders of their ranges in this area. Species that make the flora of the southern Maritime region so unique – the red-listed Japanese emperor oak (Quercus dentata), the heartleaf hornbeam (Carpinus cordata), Korean ash (Fraxinus rhynchophylla), castor aralia (Kalopanax septemlobus), Korean mountain ash (Micromeles alnifolia), and bower actinidia (Actinidia arguta) – are all found in Lazovsky Zapovednik. Over 1,000 vascular plant species have been identified in the reserve, including 40 species of fern—two-thirds the total number of fern species in the entire Russian Far East.

Along with coniferous species found throughout the Sikhote-Alin region, such as Korean pine (Pinus koriensis), spruce (Picea ajanesis), and Manchurian fir (Abies nephrolepis), Lazovsky Zapovednik also holds small groups of needle fir (Abies holophylla) and Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata). Petrov Island holds the largest stand of yew trees—a species listed in the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation —in all of the Russian Far East. In the zapovednik the red-listed needle juniper (Juniperus rigida) grows to heights of eight to ten meters; two other junipers (J. davurica, J. communis) trail towards the ground.

Russian arborvitae (Microbiota decussata) is endemic to the Russian Far East. A very decorative plant that grows to a height of one meter and sends tendrils sprawling in all directions, Russian arborvitae was first discovered by botanist I. K. Shishkin, and subsequently listed as a new species by biologist V. L. Komarov. Lazovsky Zapovednik is the only zapovednik where this red-listed species is found.

Common in the southern reaches of the zapovednik, (Epimedium macrosepalum)is an attractive forest plant that grows to a mere 40 cm in height. The unusual dark pink, lavender, or purple blossoms open in early spring, and are used locally for medicinal purposes. С altha membranacea forms a golden-colored blanket that covers moist coastal terraces in late spring.

Rare plants that are similarly typical of Lazovsky Zapovednik include such beauties as peonies ( Paeonia oreogeton, P. lactiflora, P. obovata) , edelweiss (Leontopodium palibinianum),the delicate, bell-shaped blooms of Fritillaria ussuriensis, Korean rhododendron (Rhododendron mucronulatum), and brilliant campion (Lychnis fulgens).Several species of the orchid family listed in Russia ’s Red Data Book include lady’s slipper and yellow lady’s slipper (Cypripedium macranthon, C. calceolus), deceptive orchid (Pogonia japonica) and Gastrodia elata. A number of rare but beautiful lilies (Lilium dahuricum, L. buschianum, L. lancifolium, L. pseudotigrinum) grow in the zapovednik as do Japanese water iris (Iris ensata) and Dioscorea nipponica, a medicinal vine.

Geographical Features

Picturesque sandy and pebbly beaches follow the coastline of the Sea of Japan , tracing inlets and bays. From these shores, granite and shale rock formations rise towards the mountains. Nearby, Petrov and Beltsov Islands stand in the shallow sea.

The Zapovedny Ridge divides the reserve into two sections, one brushing the coastline, the other hidden from it by the mountains. Most of these mountains stand around 500 to 700 meters above sea level, but individual peaks can jut as high as 1,400 meters into the sky. Large blocks of porpherytic quartz and andesite are visible on these steep, barren slopes. The Kievka and Chernaya River valleys, with their web of tributaries, flow swiftly down from these mountains through canyons and ravines of quaternary rock.

Warm, humid air masses rise off the Sea of Japan but cannot climb over the high peaks of the Zapovedny Ridge, creating two distinct climates within the reserve. On the far side of the Zapovedny Ridge, winters are cold and snowy, with January temperatures averaging –20 degrees Celsius. Snows begin toward the end of October or beginning of November, and pile from 50 to 60 centimeters, even up to a meter in areas protected from the wind. Warm sunshine brings a comparatively early spring in the second half of March. Summers are warm and pleasant, with average August temperatures climbing to 20 degrees Celsius.

In contrast, in the coastal region near the Sea of Japan , the climate is mild, with winter temperatures averaging –11 to –12 degrees Celsius. But because of the heavy fog that rests over the coastal lowlands, spring is slow in coming, and summer brings an annual typhoon season, with strong winds and heavy rainfalls.

The reserve is located in the Lazovsky District of Primorsky Krai.


Conservation Status

When explorer N. M. Przhevalsky first saw the lands in and around Lazovsky Zapovednik in 1868, he noted rich pine forests almost reaching the sea, filled with an abundance of wildlife. In the quiet harbors, he saw whales spouting fountains, and found their skeletons regularly washed up on shore, accompanied by seaweed and shells. But even back then, much of the original mountain forest near the shore had been cut, leaving stands of oaks in their place. With time, human influence became even more prevalent, and more virgin forest and animal life disappeared. Indeed, given the history of the settlement of the Primorsky Krai, it is remarkable today that so much of the region’s ecosystems in their natural state.

The history of Lazovsky Zapovednik began in 1935, when a 150,000-hectare reserve was formed as a branch of the nearby Sikhote-Alinsky Zapovednik. Five years later, the reserve became an independent zapovednik, called Sudzukhinsky. The official goal of the protected area was to preserve and study the natural ecosystems of vines and mixed deciduous-coniferous forests of the southern Sikhote-Alin Mountains . Its founders placed particular emphasis on rehabilitating populations of rare or valuable animals, such as the sika deer.

Over time, the size of the reserve expanded and shrunk with changeable flows of environmental politics, and was even demoted to the status of a zakaznik for six years in the 1950s, but by 1979 it had nearly attained its contemporary size of 120,000 hectares. In 1970 the reserve was renamed Lazovsky Zapovednik. These changes in size and regime had a marked effect on the zapovednik, such that many of its forests were logged or burned at some time during the twentieth century. These areas were reforested with species recognized for the economic value of their timber. As a result, the original forest communities of the zapovednik are limited primarily to areas around river headwaters.

From the outset, scientific research played an important part in the life of the reserve, as it continues to do to this day. The reserve served as a key base for crucial observation that helped scientists understand the lives of animals typical of the Russian Far East, in particular the sika deer, goral, and Asiatic black bear.



N. G. Vasilev, E. N. Matiushkin, Iu. V. Kuptsov. “Lazovsky Zapovednik, named for L. G. Kaplanov.” In Zapovedniks of the USSR : Zapovedniks of the Far East . Sokolov, V.E., and E.E. Syroechkovsky, Eds. Mysl publishing agency. Moscow, 1985 (Russian).

Zapovedniks and National Parks of Russia . Zabelina , N.M. , L.S. Isaeva-Petrova, and L.V. Kuleshova. Logata publishing agency. Moscow , 1988. Russian and English.

Text written by Lisa Woodson.

Biologist and nature photographer Vladimir Medvedev worked in Lazovsky Zapovednik for 18 years as head of the reserve’s nature museum

For more information, you can visit Lazovsky Zapovednik's webpage (in Russian) at: http://lazovzap.dvo.ru.

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