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Established: 1925
Size: 17,900 ha (179 km2)

Contact information:
Korkishko, Victor Grigorevich, Director

Russia 692710, Primorsky krai, Khasansky raion, st. Primorskaya

The spurs of the eastern Manchurian Mountain Range stretch from China and Korea into Russia in a narrow isthmus. From these low mountain ridges, multiple streams trip down to join coastal rivers, ultimately spilling into the Sea of Japan. Here, nestled in the slopes and ravines of the Black Mountains lies the oldest nature reserve in the Russian Far East: Kedrovaya Pad Zapovednik. Facing the city of Vladivostok across the Gulf of Amur, where the ocean brings warm air and heavy summer rains, this protected area incorporates elements of northern boreal forests into its dense deciduous jungles. First noted for their plant diversity in the early 20th century, these subtropical forests are among the last remaining habitats of the highly endangered Amur leopard, and are also home to a variety of animals and endemic birds.

Photo © 2000 Yuri Shibnev

Zapovednik Images
Zapovednik Facts

Images of Kedrovaya Pad Zapovednik
Click on each photo to see a large version.

Photo © 2000 Yuri Shibnev

This waterfall is one of many in the Kedrovaya River Canyon.

© 2001 Konstantin Mikhailov

The trunks of needle fir - the tallest tree in the reserve - stand like columns.

Photo © 2000
Yuri Shibnev

A tributary of the Kedrovaya River swirls in summertime.

Boyd Norton

The poisonous Ussuri mamushi is found only in the Primorye region.

Photo © 2000 Yuri Shibnev

A male mandarin duck strikes a pose in attempt to impress a female.


Photo © 2000 Boyd Norton

Streams swell in springtime, carrying water from snowmelt to valleys.

Photo © 2000 Yuri Shibnev

Only 20 to 40 Far East leopards remain in the wild, several of which inhabit this zapovednik.

Photo © 2000
Yuri Shibnev

A colorful palette of trees lines the Kedrovaya River in autumn.

Zapovednik Facts:

In his memoirs of his expeditions in the Russian Far East in 1902-1906, explorer Vladimir Arseniev recounts his first and only encounter with an Amur leopard (Pantera pardus orientalis), "an extremely cunning and careful animal" which had learned to protect itself from hunters by hiding in trees in such a way that it became almost invisible. Distinguished from other leopards by softer, thicker fur, the leopard has not been able to use its stealth to halt the destruction of its habitat. Even Arseniev noted that the leopard’s range was already limited to the southernmost regions of what today is Russia’s Primorsky Krai. Moreover, forest fires and intensive hunting of ungulates, the leopard’s favored prey, have brought the leopard’s numbers to below 40 individuals in the wild today.

In the reserve, the population of ungulates remains healthy, with plenty of Tatarian roe (Capreolus capreolus pygargus), wild boars (Sus scrofa), musk deer (Moschus moschiferus) and sika deer (Cervus nippon). Indeed, even though listed in the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation, the sika deer grew so numerous in the reserve in the mid-1900s that zapovednik staff began trapping the deer and releasing them outside the borders of the park in hopes that they would help the leopard expand its territory outside the zapovednik.

The zapovednik is a haven for other predators as well, such as foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and raccoon dogs (Nycterutes procyonoides), which are common throughout the reserve. The rare Amur wildcat (Felis euptiluras) preys on many rodents and birds, but in winter eats mainly Manchurian hares (Lepus brachyurus mandschuricus). Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus), recognizable by the white bib of fur about their necks, are comparatively rare. Badgers (Meles meles), Siberian weasels (Mustela sibirica), and Indian marten (Martes zibellina) roam through the forests, while a multitude of otters (Lutra lutra) bathe in the zapovednik’s lakes.

Japanese moles (Mogera wogura) burrow in valleys with soft, malleable soil. Shrews (Sorex spp.), Siberian chipmunks (Tamias sibiricus), squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris), and Russian flying squirrels (Pteromys volans) are also common here. The little tube-nosed bat (Murina aurata), a rare species, makes its home in the zapovednik’s forests.

The endangered gray goshawk (Accipiter soloensis) feeds on many of these abundant rodents. Meanwhile, instead of soaring through the sky in search of prey, the rare gray-faced buzzard-eagle (Butastor indicus) waits in a shrub or small tree in oak forests for the right moment before diving down to catch its favored prey, amphibians and reptiles, such as the oriental tigersnake (Rhabdophis tigrina) and red-backed ratsnake (Elaphe rufodorsata).

In spring the zapovednik’s forests come to life with multiple species of warblers, including Pallas’ warbler (Phylloscopus proregulus), great crowned willow warbler (Ph. occipitalis), pale-legged willow warbler (Ph. tenellipes), and short-tailed bush warbler (Cettia squamicepts). Many nuthatches (Sitta spp.), titmice (Parus palustris, P. ater), Siberian blue robins (Luscinia cyane), brown flycatchers (Microeca latirostris), and Tristram’s buntings (Emberiza tritrami) build their nests in Manchurian fir trees.



As in all of the Russian Far East, the coniferous-broadleaf forests of Kedrovaya Pad Zapovednik combine elements of the northern taiga and subtropical jungles, but in this nature reserve southern flora predominates. Early explorers and scientists noted the diversity of trees and abundance of shrubs, all of which were entangled in vines of clematis (Clematis spp.), actinidias (Actinidia arguta, A. kolomicta), magnolia-vine (Schizandra chinensis), and Konye grapes (Vitis cognetiae). Indeed, these vines were so thickly woven through trees and bushes that it was impossible to pass through the taiga without an ax.

The logging that accompanied the influx of settlers to the Russian Far East, however, significantly altered the face of the zapovednik. Forests currently cover about 13,000 hectares (73 percent of the zapovednik’s total area), of which over 11,000 hectares is deciduous. Most of these deciduous forests grew up after the original coniferous-broadleaf forests were cut or burned. Nonetheless, the zapovednik has existed under strict protection for so long that a process of forest regeneration is clearly visible.

Forests of Mongolian oaks (Quercus mongolica) comprise nearly half of the zapovednik’s territory. Though some sparse oak stands grow indigenously on steep mountain slopes, the majority of these forests grew up as a direct result of the forestry activity in the region. Deciduous trees such as the Amur and Manchurian lindens (Tilia amurensis, T. mandschurica), yellow and Dahurian birches (Betula lutea, B. dahurica), Mono maple (Acer mono), and Manchurian elm (Ulmus laciniata) spring up readily in these young forests, while the ash tree Fraxinus rhynchophylla dominates the next stage in forest regeneration.

Coniferous-broadleaf forests represent the natural dominant forest type, but today cover just over ten percent of the reserve’s total area. Dominated by Manchurian firs (Abies holophylla), the tallest tree in the Russian Far East, which grows to 55 meters in height and two meters in diameter, these forests also incorporate warmth-loving trees such as Mongolian oaks, maples, ashes, the locally endangered sand pear (Pyrus ussurensis), and river and Schmidt’s birches (Betula nigra, B. schmidtii). Schmidt’s birch, an endangered species in Russia, is particularly unique for its dense wood, which sinks in water.

Rare tracts of forest sprinkled throughout the southern reaches of the zapovednik incorporate two rare species — the Japanese emperor oak (Quercus dentata) and Rhododendron shlippenbachii and were listed in the Red Data Book of the Soviet Union specifically as a community.

In all, 57 rare or endangered plant species grow in the zapovednik. Many grow at the northern extremities of their ranges here, while others are endemic to the reserve, found nowhere else on Earth. The slow-growing Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata) has soft, flat needles and juicy but astringent berries. The soft purplish-pink blossoms of Wieglia praecox are particularly beautiful; the lady’s slipper Cypripedium guttatum, three species of peony (Paeonia oreogeton, P. lactiflora, P. obovata), and Dahurian lily (Lilium dahuricum) add additional color to the zapovednik.

Geographical Features

Kedrovaya Pad Zapovednik is located in the spurs of the Eastern-Manchurian Mountains that stretch eastward into Russia from China and North Korea. Local residents named these rolling hills the Black Mountains, perhaps because of the dense forests of Manchurian firs that covered them. The zapovednik, however, derives its name from the Kedrovaya River and the canyon through which it flows.

Narrow mountain ridges around 400 meters above sea level characterize the zapovednik’s relief. Formed primarily in the Mesozoic Era some 100-200 million years ago, these mountains are comprised mostly of multiple layers of sandstone, occasionally interrupted by igneous rock. Rivers and streams flow through the reserve’s multiple terraced canyons, forming systems of waterfalls and pools as they spill into the Baravashekva River and run towards the sea.

Kedrovaya Pad Zapovednik shares its monsoon climate with other areas of the Russian Far East, receiving most of its average 900 millimeters of rainfall during the summer. But in contrast to nearby regions, the reserve’s location at the southern tip of the Primorsky Krai places it in the path of warm, humid air masses from the Philippines. As a result, the frost-free period stretches an extra two months in comparison with nearby areas.

The mountainous relief of the zapovednik also plays a significant role in creating microclimates within the reserve. For example, at the headwaters of the Gakkelevsky Stream, which are protected from the sea by a mountain ridge, the number of sunny days each year can be up to three times greater than in the central regions of the reserve, which are steeped in deep fog in spring and early summer. For this reason, sun-loving plants like melons and tomatoes grow well in regions just a few kilometers from areas where they cannot grow at all.

Brown and yellow-brown soils dominate in the zapovednik. The latter mountain forest soils, which mark a transition between the brown soils of the temperate zone and the yellow soils of the subtropics, are found nowhere else the Russian Far East. Meanwhile, sandy soils surround the zapovednik’s rivers, slowly dissolving the mountains and carrying them downstream to the Sea of Japan.

The zapovednik is located 20 kilometers from Vladivostok in the Khasansky District of the Primorsky Krai.

Conservation Status

Following the construction of the Transiberian Railroad in the early 1900s, settlers poured into the Russian Far East, especially in and around the bustling trading port of Vladivostock. The primeval forests of the Primorsky Krai became subject to intensive logging and numerous forest fires. Hunting wild animals — especially seemingly threatening predators like tigers and leopards — was readily encouraged in the interests of taming these wild lands. But even as human demand for forests and their resources grew, concern for the ecosystems of the Russian Far East also grew. Forest preserves (zakazniks) founded as early as 1906 were intended to prevent the cutting of valuable varieties of trees, as well as curtail hunting and ginseng gathering. In 1916, one of such zakazniks was founded on 4,500 hectares now occupied by Kedrovaya Pad Zapovednik. In 1924, the territory was given the legal status of a zapovednik, the first in the Russian Far East; two years later, the zapovednik’s area was more than doubled to cover 9,500 hectares.

When it was founded, the reserve was managed by forestry enterprises directed to establish both nature protection and scientific research in the park. Perhaps for this reason, the zapovednik staff initially gave precedence to study of flora instead of fauna. Only in the 1930s, when the administration of the zapovednik was transferred first to wildlife management services, then to the Russian Academy of Sciences, did scientists working at the zapovednik begin systematic studies of the reserve’s fauna. Birds became a key focus of the zapovednik, leading Kedrovaya Pad to the forefront of ornithology in the Russian Far East. Today, recognizing the importance of saving the Amur leopard from extinction, scientists have placed special emphasis on studying this highly endangered cat. Zapovednik staff have participated in two censes conducted in the past five years both in the reserve and in adjoining parks. All of the cats that live in Kedrovaya Pad Zapovednik have been fitted with radio collars so that scientists can track their movements.

Though most zapovedniks are currently under the authority of the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation, Kedrovaya Pad Zapovednik remains under the direction of the Biology and Soil Studies Institute of the Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the institution that has guided its activity since 1964s.


Arseniev, Vladimir, 1930. Through the Ussurisky Krai. Dersu Uzala. Moscow: Pravda, 1983.

Zapovedniks of the USSR: Zapovedniks of the Far East. Moscow: Mysl, 1985.

Zapovedniks and National Parks of Russia. Zabelina, N.M., L.S. Isaeva-Petrova, and L.V. Kuleshova. Moscow: Logata, 1998.

Additional materials provided by staff of Kedrovaya Pad Zapovednik and the Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Text by Lisa Woodson.

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