100 anniversary of Barguzinsky Reserve

Barguzinsky Reserve – the oldest reserve in Russia – celebrated its 100 anniversary on January 11, 2017. It was founded in 1917 to recover the number of sables and became the only reserve which history starts before the revolution of 1917. Due to its “sable” specification it was called the “Braguzinsky sable reserve”. It is located on the picturesque slopes of the Barguzin Range north-east shore of the Lake Baikal. Back in those days this place was called the Barguzinsky district of the Baikal region.

The authentic beauty of the local places reminds the fairy tale where the air is uniquely pure and the lake reflects the blue sky. Needless to say that the local representatives of fauna lead free and happy life in the Baikal region.15000 out of 374 000 reserve hectares are occupied by the waters of Baikal. In addition to the Baikal lake there are two more lakes – Losinoe and Karasevoe.

A little bit of history

The fur animal hunting including the sable hunting has been historically one of the national industries of Russia. In 11-12 centuries the fur was used as the currency in national economics. The emblem of Siberia which has two sables stabbed by the arrows and keeping the “Crown of the Siberian Kingdom” in their teeth proves that the fur industry was taken very seriously.

After the development of business relations between Russia and Western Europe in the middle of 16th century the fur demand increased. The constant fur animal hunt almost caused their total extinction. 

The state government tried to take first measures to control the fur industry in 19th century but they failed and the sables number continued to decrease catastrophically. By 1916 there were only 20 or 30 species of sable left in the area of the Barguzinsky Reserve and the annual fur industry turnover was 40 % comparing to the first decade of the new century.

Since 1997 the day of the Braguzinsky Reserve foundation has been celebrated as “The day of the reserves and national parks”

Who created the reserve?

After the situation has become critical the reserve was founded to become the part of the so called “the sable project” by the famous game biologist of that time – Silantiev A.A.

In the frames of the project 3 expeditions were organized under three directions:

  • The research expedition to Kamchatka headed by Krecelly S.V.;
  • The expedition to the Eastern Sayans headed by Soloviev D.K.;
  • The expedition to Baikal headed by Doppelmair G.G. the future professor of the Leningrad Forest Engineering Academy and the famous game biologist.

July 1, 1914 the expedition reached the north-east shore of the Baikal and unloaded from the “St. Feodosia” ship. Stayed in the Evenkis tribal management house in Sosnovka the members of the expedition started to study the region where the new reserve was supposed to be founded. The studies lasted till 1917.

The legislative part of the reserve foundation required not less efforts than the field research and its boundaries defining. The day of its opening is traditionally celebrated as the day of the reserves and national parks.

Later the Barguzinsky Resreve was named after its first director – Zabelin Konstantin Alekseevich who had been managing it till 1924. After that he was managing the forests of the Buryat-Mongol Autonomus Soviet Socialistic Republic but in 7 years he returned to his former job and dedicated the rest of his life to the experimental game managements.

The first years of the reserve…

The foundation of the reserve in the Baikal region led to first results already by 1919. To recover the sable number and to extend its habitat several hundreds of sables were captured and released out of the region. Comparing to the other regions sable number decrease the number of sables in the reserve only grew up. In particular the population of the famous podlemorian sable soon was recovered.  

Moreover the reserve foundation helped the moose that almost disappeared in this region before the expedition.


In 1930 this reserve became the complex reserve as the sable population was no longer under threat.

Nowadays the territory of the specially protected natural reserves (SPNR) occupies 12% of the total country territory. The system of SPNR is represented by 299 federal territories, 11 647 territories of regional and 1213 of local relevance 

…and today

The territory of the reserve that is the part of the UNESCO world natural heritage as the part of the Baikal lake is strictly zoned. Any business activity in the “core” of the reserve is prohibited. Only permanently living here people have a right for some kinds of natural resources usage at the certain locations; also the tourism is allowed here.

You are allowed to visit the territory only by a written permission of the Director of the Federal State Budgetary Institution “Zapovednoe Podlemorye” or the Ministry of Nature of Russia no matter what is the purpose of your visit. Everybody entering after permission receives the rules of visiting that must be fully complied with.  

Due to such strict rules the exemplary cleanliness and Russian nature magnificence  has been being preserved for so many years.

It is impossible to overestimate the value of the reserves for our planet biosphere. The reserve areas organization has several important functions at the time:

  • guarantees the preservation and safety of the unique natural objects;
  • encourages the development and popularization of such leisure time kind as the ecological tourism which is very meaningful for ecological consciousness of the country population;
  • provides safety monitoring and control for the natural objects located on its territory;
  • encourages the financial investments into the development and support of the valuable natural objects including those from the World Heritage Fund.   

The general and particular reserves problems

The Barguzinsky reserve life cannot be called cloudless as well as any other reserve life. The main cause of the problems always comes the funding of the reserve areas where the following issues come from:

  • low salary of the employees prevent young specialists from working in this field, meantime the level of the current employees leaves much to be desired;
  • the lack of the vehicles including the fire engines and water tractors as well as the poor quality of their maintenance causes the forest fire risk increase on the territory of the reserve;
  • low level of security of the biosphere reserves cannot fully exclude the irresponsible behavior of the visitors which put the safety of the natural objects preservation under threat.   

Unfortunately very often the inspectors of the reserves meet the irresponsible visitors. For example, on the territory of the national park “Samarskaya luka visitors often make barbeque during the fire dangerous periods.

Also the people go poaching, cut the trees, illegally graze cattle or make hay as well as the companies organizing illegal business activities. Nevertheless it is  strictly illegal one can find the constructions, mining and even road and communications building on the territory of the reserve area.

It is of great importance for the Barguzinsky reserve to cooperate with local residents as the legal body and the scientific institution. Such activities allows the reserve to take part in the social and economic life of the region and encourage the ecologically positive behavior of the residents.

Of course the poor financing is difficult to overcome but according to professor Preobrazhensky – the destroy starts from us, from every single person. No one succeeded in creating the reserve able to recover after the irresponsible interference of the “apex of creation”.

That is why the public outreach activities effect on the territory of the reserves cannot be underestimated: ecological tourism development, touristic routes creation, educational activities, mass media and social advertisement and first of all comes complex and constant work with children and youth – the future hosts of our planet.