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PRECIOUS VOVLOZEME

Дата публикации: 09 ноября 2021
Автор(ы): Alla GUDYM, Vladimir ANTIPIN
Публикатор: Научная библиотека Порталус
Рубрика: RUSSIA (TOPICS)
Источник: (c) Science in Russia, №4, 2013, C.93-100
Номер публикации: №1636448366


Alla GUDYM, Vladimir ANTIPIN, (c)

by Alla GUDYM, Director of the National Park "Vodlozersky"; Vladimir ANTIPIN, Cand. Sc. (Biol.), Senior Research Assistant of the Institute of Biology of the RAS Karelian Research Center (Petrozavodsk, Republic of Karelia)

 

An amazing world lost in time and space: virgin taiga forests, eternal rivers, lakes and bogs-a natural shelter for numerous birds and animals; elegant and simple chapels on the islands forming a precious necklace around the main spiritual center--the llyinsky (Elijah) churchyard... All these beauties are Vodlozerye--an ancient historical area in the Russian North, where in 1991 one of the largest national parks in Europe was established. Its territory covering the eastern part of Karelia (Pudozh District) and western part of Arkhangelsk Region (Onega District), is 135 km from north to south and around 25 km from west to east; in total, its area is almost 0.5 mln ha. In 1998, the park was recognized as one of the key ornithological territories of international importance (local wetlands are an essential migration and propagation area of water fowl). In 2001, Vodlozerye became part of the World Network of Biospheric Reserves of UNESCO as a model of sustainable development and studies of interaction of man and nature.

 

EXCURSUS INTO HISTORY

 

Vodlozerye is one of the most important watersheds of our planet--between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. It is a place from where the major European Neva river system takes place, in particular, from the Ileksa River flowing into Lake Vodlozero that gave the name to the national park and adjacent territories. Then, it passes Vodla, Lake Onega, Svir and Lake Ladoga that feeds the Neva River.

 

Researchers acknowledged significance of the local natural complexes long ago. In 1960, geobotanists of the Institute of Forest of the USSR Academy of Sciences Karelian Branch* Matvei Vilikainen, Cand.Sc. (Biol.), and Alexandra Kuznetsova, as well as forest scientist Fyodor Yakovlev, an employee of the oldest Russian reserve "Kivach" (1931), engaged in exploration of the territories of the Republic of Karelia with respect to their environmental value, put forward an idea to establish in different zones four new reserves, including Vod-

 

*In 1990 the Karelian Branch of the USSR AS was renamed to the Karelian Research Center of the USSR AS; from 1991-the RAS Karelian Research Center.--Ed.

 
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lozerye, to preserve the biota diversity in eastern Karelia. In this area, they found primary forests and a large population of the Siberian larch in natural habitat. This idea was not supported, but two regional reserves--game and botanical reserves of its Siberian larch--were organized in 1975 in the northern part of the territory.

 

Five years later, a group of Moscow architects headed by Alexander Shabelnikov together with specialists of the All-Russia Society for Conservation of Historical and Cultural Monuments proposed to establish a National Park "Vodlozero-Vodla" that would include the flora, fauna and fish protection areas, areas of conservation of historical and cultural heritage and archeological stations on the sites of Mesolithic and Neolithic camps. According to the proposed project, this national park must have formed a basis of the Pudozh recreation center.

 

Time passed by, and the environmental situation in the region turned for the worse. The problem was that in the mid-1980s forest felling areas of the Kubovsky and Pyalmsky timber industry enterprises and Pudozhsky Complex Timber Rafting Enterprise of the Karellesprom Group came close to the reserve territories. Timber cutters laid a road to Vodlozero and prepared designs of a bridge to be constructed over the Ileksa river intended to encircle the Vodlozero basin and use it for forest cultivation. In view of the existing situation, the Institute of Biology of the USSR Academy of Sciences Karelian Branch upon request of the Government of the Republic of Karelia prepared a scientific feasibility study for the project of creation of a landscape reserve "Vodlozersky" in the Pudozh District, which was supported on republican and regional levels. In 1988, notwithstanding the tough resistance of timber cutters, the reserve was established, which made it possible to preserve the wealth of the region. However, the protected status of the reserve was not enough to show, preserve and use natural diversity and cultural and historical heritage of Vodlozerye.

 

The situation changed after Oleg Chervyakov, a physicist from Kharkov, proposed an original idea to organize a national natural park on the basis of the Ileksa-Vod-

 
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Map of the geological and geomorphological structure of the territory of the National Park "Vodlozersky" (compiled by V. Ilyin, Institute of Geology of the RAS Karelian Research Center): 1--biogenic (bog) deposits; 2--lake, glacial-lake deposits; 3--fluvio-glacial deposits (deltas, outwash plains); 4--moraine deposits; 5--crystalline rocks; 6--hilly and mountainous relief.

 

 

Landscape map of the National Park "Vodlozersky" (compiled by A. Gromtsev, Institute of Forest of the RAS Karelian Research Center): 1--tectonic denudation range average swampy landscape with predominance of fir forests; 2--glacial and water-glacial hilly-range very swampy landscape with fir forests; 3, 4--lake and glacial lake very swampy plains with predominance of pine (3) and fir (4) forests; 5--glacial and water-glacial hilly-range average swampy landscape with predominance of fir forests; 6--lakes.

 

Iozero basin, protecting a standard plot of the taiga area in the European part of our country. It was actively supported by employees of the Karelian Research Center, in particular, by Stanislav Drozdov, Dr. Sc. (Biol.), Director of the Institute of Biology.

 

By the early 1991, the project composed of 5 volumes was approved by the Department of Protected Areas of Russia. In this project Chervyakov for the first time described the concept of a future park as a biospheric reserve where man lives in harmony with nature, reasonably uses natural wealth and preserved its resources. The document was worked out in cooperation with his colleagues--scientists of Kharkov State University. The data on the environmental conditions, flora, cultural and historical heritage were provided by the authors of scientific feasibility studies of the landscape reserve "Vodlozersky" Viktoria Kulikova and Vyacheslav Kulikov, Drs. Sc. (Geol. & Miner.), Vladimir Antipin, Cand. Sc. (Biol.), Irma Mullonen, Dr. Sc. (Philol.), Vladimir Ilyin and Pavel Tokarev. A detailed description of the fauna was prepared by Vladimir Borshchevsky, Cand. Sc. (Biol.), a staff member of the Central Research Laboratory of the Federal Department of Game Territories and Reserves. Specialists of the State Committee for Environmental Protection of Karelia summarized data on forest management in the future park. Scientists of the All-Russia Research Institute of Nature Conservation and Reserve Management of the USSR Ministry of Agriculture, Institute of Systems Research, and the Ural Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences also contributed to the development of the project. At the critical stage, the project was supported by Acad. Alexander Isaev, Acad. Dmitry Likhachev, and RAS Corresponding Member Alexander Yablokov, and thus promoted adoption (in April 1991) of the Decree of the RF Government "On the Creation of the State National Park Vodlozersky" including the territory of the landscape reserve Ileksky (Arkhangelsk Region)". Since then, the employees of structural units of the national park have been carrying out scientific studies, complex ecological monitoring and reproduction activities under active assistance of scientists of the RAS Karelian Research Center and Petrozavodsk State University.

 

GEOLOGICAL PECULIARITIES AND WATER RESOURCES

 

The park is located in the south-eastern part of the Fennoscandian (Baltic) Shield--on the ancient Pre-

 
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Cambrian platform that had formed 3.5 bln years ago. Over a million and a half years ago the region underwent several glaciation periods. The last Valdai "ice age" terminated ~14-15 thous. years ago. As for the Ileksa-Vodlozero basin, it started forming 4-4.5 thous. years ago when the Neva broke into the Baltic Sea; and its present-day appearance formed ~2,500 years ago.

 

The territory of the park inclined southwards is crossed by a mountain range called the Windy Belt (it got its self-explanatory name in ancient times). The average surface height there is 200 m above sea level. The mountain range consists of unique rocks--volcanic basalts and komatiites that have preserved as no other rocks on the Fennoscandian Shield. This place was discovered for science in the late 1930s by the geographer Mikhail Karbasnikov. Thanks to his studies, the Windy Belt was marked on the topographical map of Russia. The relief of the central (absolute altitude 160-180 m) and southern parts of the reserve is represented mostly by small hills and ridges.

 

In the territory of the park, the remains of the ancient volcanic formation of Fennoscandia--Kirichsky paleo-volcano (it is 2.5 bln years old) with lava streams in the form of horsts (from the German Horst--elevation) formed as a result of neotectonic movements of the Earth crust, have been preserved.

 

There are 383 glacial and water-glacial lakes in the park. The reservoirs are shallow, with average depths of 0.5-2.5 m; only some of them are over 3 m deep. The largest Vodlozero (maximal length 36.2 km, width--15.9 km, average depth--2.4 m) is 334 m2 and has 196 islands. The double flow lake (from it are flowing the Vama and Sukha-ya Vodla rivers) is a very rare phenomenon for such systems. Vodlozero is one of the most productive lakes in Karelia: commercial fish species such as the pike perch, bream, lake herring, and vendace live there.

 

Out of 24 rivers of the park, only 12 are over 30 km long. The main water stream Ileksa is, however, 120 km long. Its banks due to active river bed evolution processes keep traces of lateral erosion--in some places they are washed away, and screes are not rare either. Along the flow broken with 23 rapids, the principal and most popular water tourist route is laid.

 

FOREST AREAS

 

The environmental value of the national park "Vod-lozersky" famous for a well-preserved taiga area in the European North of Russia consists in a wide variety of forest (51 percent of the area), marsh (37 percent), water (11 percent) and meadow (less than 1 percent) ecosystems. Primal natural complexes are standard points of this territory and are of high scientific value for fundamental ecological studies.

 

Primary forests--most valuable and important elements of the landscapes of the park--managed to evade industrial exploration. Local population cut only riverine and lacustrine forests near villages.

 

The main forest-forming species are the pine (Pinus sylvestris) and the spruce (Picea abies, P. obovata, P. fen-nica). The age of the basic tree generation is 180-240 years, some firs are 430 and pines 500 years old. The maximal height and diameter of trunks are 32 m and 90 cm (for firs) and 35 m and 100 cm (for pines) respectively.

 

Birch (Betula pubescens, B. pendula) and aspen (Popu-lus tremula) forests grow on abandoned felling areas, ashes, former ploughed lands and hayfields. The gray alder (Alnus incana) is widespread in pine and fir forests. Natural habitats of larch (Larix sibirica), westernmost in Europe, are also often found in the park.

 

The ecological range of aboriginal coniferous forests includes 14 types: from the boggy sphagnous to north taiga crowberry-blackberry and specific rocky lichen-moss species. Spruce and blackberry forests are dominating; fir forests and sphagnous pine forests are also widespread. As for the primary forests, scientists have arranged scientific and tourist routes there and for more than 10 years have been monitoring the natural dynamics of primal coniferous stands in the natural environment and in conditions affected by hurricanes, and are studying different aspects of biological diversity.

 

BOGS AS A SPECIAL TYPE OF GROUND ECOSYSTEMS

 

Bogs, one of the most ancient ecosystems, are an integral part of Voldozerye. First bogs formed there 9.5-9 thous. years ago in deep hollows with clayey or loamy bottoms and abundant moisture, in place of overgrown shallow water bodies. That time, the climate was cold and dry, that is why bog formation process was very low. Taking into account that Vodlozerye is located on an elevated flat plateau 150-200 m above sea level, research-

 
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Southern points of nesting of bean goose (ANSER FABAUS).

 

ers cannot understand why and how bogs managed to dominate in some areas of the natural park.

 

Today, bogs cover 191,000 ha of the area of the reserve. Biological diversity of local bogs is outstanding, even compared with the taiga territories in the European part of Russia. As for the water and mineral feeding regime and plant cover, they are divided into 10 types. The most ancient and large (over 500 ha) are located in the northern and central parts of the reserve. With the decay of the sphagnous cover, many of them are degrading. The weakened sod layer is penetrated by lichens, marsh shrubs and low pines. In place of totally ruined hollows (depressions between ridges), secondary small lakes are formed. Such ecosystems characterized by a ceasing peat formation process are called dystrophic.

 

Small eutrophic (lowland) grass-hypnum bogs, not typical of Karelia and adjacent territories, are also of high scientific interest. They are usually formed in places where artesian or deep nonartesian waters reach the surface by tectonic fissures in the crystalline base. They are also called spring or slope waters. Deep waters carry soluble salts of ferrum, calcium, magnesium and other elements easily absorbed by plants; that is why such bogs are usually characterized by a biological diversity of the flora. There you can find up to 100 species of vascular plants and mosses (over a half of them do not grow in other places), and rare plant communities. It is worth mentioning that topographical maps, space and aerial photos are almost useless to locate spring bogs; that's why all discovered bogs were found and studied by chance.

 

In 2004, sphagnous communities with a blue moor grass (Molinia caerulea), typical of Finnish and Karelian aapa-bogs (aapa in Finnish means "treeless") were discovered for the first time in some bogs of the national park. They were classified as a new geographical Ileksa-Vodlozero type.

 

RARE PLANT SPECIES

 

Flora of the park counts over 500 species of vascular plants. 19 of them--helleborine (Epipactis palustris), white hellebore (Veratrum lobelianum), Kadenia clubia, Siberian larch (Larix sibirica) and others--are in the Red Data Book of the Republic of Karelia and the Red Data Book of the Arkhangelsk Region. The most valuable plant species--the coastal water quillwort (Isoëtes lacus-tris) and thinnest quillwort (Isoëtes setacea), water lobelia growing in shallow rivers and lakes (Lobelia dortmanna), narrow-leaved marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza traunsteine-ri), and forest lichens Bryoria fremontii and Lobaria pul-monaria--are in the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation.

 
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The Siberian larch is one of the most interesting botanical "sights" of the park. It grows along the northeastern bank of the Vodlozero Lake as a secondary species in pine and sometimes fir forests and does not form pure larch forests. The oldest trees are 300-350 years old, about 30 m high and have 50-60 cm in diameter. It is a rare, disappearing species: young larch trees are practically absent. Natural regeneration of this sun-loving plant is complicated by a high density of pine and fir stands. The problem is aggravated by a low germination capacity of larch seeds (~20 percent). In addition, in rainy and chilly springs, when the morphogenesis of reproductive organs is broken, it is actually zero. Employees of the park carry out forestry activities to recover the population of the Siberian larch.

 

WILDLIFE

 

The reserve is a habitat for 39 species of mammals, 204 species of birds (153 of them are nestling), 5 species of amphibians and reptiles, 21 species of fish. It is also a place of propagation of taiga mammals--the squirrel, marten, otter, brown bear, elk, wolverine, forest reindeer--and birds--the wood grouse, snow grouse, woodpecker, owl, very important in the European North.

 

Spacious wetlands are very important to ensure reproduction of hydrophilic species of animals. Numerous flocks of geese, swans and diving-ducks use them as rest and feeding sites. The reserve is the southernmost nesting point of such species as the whooping swan (Cygnus cygnus) and the bean goose (Anser fabalis).

 

The largest nestling population of fish-eating birds of prey (in the Russian North) that are registered in the RF Red Data Book and the Red Data Book of the International Wildlife Protection Union is registered in the territory of the reserve. There live 35 couples of white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus aibicilla), 20 couples of fish-hawks (Pandion haliaetus). The population of another bird from the Red Data Book--the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)--counts 8 nestling couples.

 

Environmental status of the park enables to protect all flora and fauna species, forest and wetland ecosystems, traditional fishing and berry territories.

 

CULTURAL HERITAGE

 

Vodlozerye is a very specific and, mainly, unique territory, where nine principal cultural and historical layers can be easily traced--from Mesolithic (mid-6th century B.C.) to the early Middle Ages (late 5th-mid-11th cent.). Specialists have discovered over 100 ancient archeologi-cal complexes there.

 

First settlements in this territory appeared 8 thous. years ago. The intact nature attracted people there. The local flora and fauna of those times were more diverse owing to a mild climate typical of the Central Europe.

 

It is still very difficult to establish an ethnic background of ancient local residents. However, according to

 
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the results of comparison of archeological data and theory of formation of Finno-Ugric languages carried out in 1995 by Mark Kosmenko, Cand. Sc. (Hist.), a specialist of the Institute of Language, Literature and History of the RAS Karelian Research Center, we can state: the so-called "proto Lapps" settled there in the Bronze Age (mid-2nd millennium B.C.), southern Lapp tribes--in the Iron Age (mid-1st millennium B.C.), Baltic Finns (forefathers of present-day Veps)--in the early Middle Ages (10th century A.D.). Ivan Shirobokov, Cand. Sc. (Hist.), a research assistant of the RAS Institute of Anthropology and Ethnography (Cabinet of Curiosities) named after Peter the Great (St. Petersburg), has found out: anthropological appearance of modern Vodlozerye residents has a dominating ancient element that can be traced only around Kenozero (the large lake in the Arkhangelsk Region) and on the Kola Peninsula.

 

In about the 12th-13th centuries, first Novgorodians came to Vodlozerye and brought there a new culture and religion--Christianity. Slavic development of the territory is associated with a trade route from Veliky Novgorod to the White Sea, where Vodlozero was an important transit point. The famous Karelian ethnographer, employee of the Institute of Language, Literature and History of the RAS Karelian Research Center Konstantin Loginov, Cand. Sc. (Hist.), has found out: in the 15th-16th cent. a unique "island civilization" formed there that existed till the mid-20th century and served as a model of harmonious coexistence of man and nature. It was principally formed by a subethnic group of Russians--residents of Vodlozero who lived in about forty settlements on the islands and banks of Vodlozero. In the course of several centuries, a bright and original culture, typical of the North, and an architectural style was developing there, characterized by an elegant and neat décor of churches and conservative, though beautiful, peasant houses. The unique settlement system and sociocultural environment were destroyed in the Soviet times, most of the villages were abandoned. One of the objectives of the national park was to revive this mode of life, local customs in architecture, crafts and environmental management.

 

The spiritual life of residents of northern villages was always closely connected with a churchyard--a church and tombs of forefathers. In Vodlozerye, the Ilyinsky churchyard was such a religious place in the 16th century. It was located on a small island once fully visible from the lake. First references to the Ilyinsky churchyard are made in the "Letter of Grant" issued by the Metropolitan of Novgorod Varlaam to the residents of Vodlozero in 1592. Till now only one church (out of four churches), constructed in 1798, stands "hidden" in old firs and is not only a masterpiece of carpentry, but also the main Orthodox relic of the national park.

 

According to the well-known restorer Alexander Opo-lovnikov, Doctor of Architecture, the first researcher of the Vodlozero treasure (1947), it is an apogee of the

 
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centuries-long development of Russian wooden architecture. In 1986 he wrote: "The key feature of the architectural image of the Ilyinsky church is a contrasting structure of its main elements: an elongated refectory and a high massive quadrangle of the church. The outer entrance hall, refectory, church and the altar form a 25 m nave, the width of which is four times less than its length; the area of the church is larger than that of the refectory, while the two communion-table altar (of Ilya the Prophet and the Repose of the Virgin Mary) is remarkably spacious." According to the architect, the church was constructed in different times. Its most ancient structure, the quadrangle, was later expanded with the refectory and the bell tower, originally crowned with a hipped roof. At the turn of the 19th-20th centuries, the church yard was renovated: in place of the hipped roof, the bell-tower got a flat "semidome" with a spire, which broke a bit a spatial structure of the complex. Nevertheless, despite its kind of "official style and coldness", "the architecture and composition are quite complete", Opolovnikov says.

 

The "pep" of the Ilyinsky churchyard is a log fence, an indispensable attribute of the church architecture of the North. Crowned with a gable roof, the fence forms a picturesque 200 m long polygon, reproducing the relief and bank contours. Such structures, resembling a fortress, were used in ancient times on holidays and during fairs as shops. By the way, it was the Ilyinsky churchyard fence that was used as a model during restoration of the world-known monument of wooden architecture--Kizhi churchyard (Medvezhyegorsk District of Karelia, 18th-19th cent.).

 

In the 1930s, after local priests and churchgoers were sent to special camps, the Ilyinsky churchyard became deserted, which affected its safe keeping. Only in the late 1990s, it regained a second life as a spiritual center of Vodlozerye. In 1999, the national park and the Karelian Scientific Production Center entered into a contract on joint protection and preservation of ancient architectural monuments, which was completed in 2004 with the restoration of the Church of the Prophet Ilya (Elijah) (project architect Vladislav Kuspak). Specialists of the Architectural Restoration Center "Zaonezhye" headed by Vitaly Skopin carried out restoration works of the damaged fence. In 1995, the island regained its ecclesiastical calendar. Since 2004 there has been functioning an orthodox community, and in 2006 the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church established a monastery there--the St. Ilya Church of Vodlozero.

 

Ancient monuments are also restored in other places. In recent years, thanks to philanthropists, 10 chapels have been restored or constructed in the territory of the national park. Painters from St. Petersburg, students of the St. Petersburg State Academy of Arts and Industry named after A. Stieglitz, are of great help to preserve the cultural heritage of the park: they draw icons and design interiors of ancient churches in line with the traditions of ancient northern Russian icon painting and architecture.

 

The national park implements a new approach to the revival of a traditional Russian mode of life within the "Virishpelda Settlement" project. The small peasant village located in the cosy bay of Vodlozero surrounded by coniferous forests was first mentioned in the Cadaster About Onezh of Veliky Novgorod in 1563. But according to archeological data, it was established long before that, in the 10th-13th centuries by Baltic and Finnish tribes. In 1873, the village consisted of 9 homesteads, but by 1991 all buildings, except for the Bell Tower of the Virgin Mary of Tikhvin (19th cent.) were destroyed. At present, the village has only two dwelling houses managed by the local dean Oleg Chervyakov, his family, and some churchgoers. Together with the employees of the national park they are trying to form a settlement, adapted to life in new conditions and at the same time to preserve basic features of the traditional way of life of Vodlozerye.

Опубликовано на Порталусе 09 ноября 2021 года

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