13 September 2012, 15:18

Switzerland in Siberia

Switzerland in Siberia

First tourist routes will appear in the Sayano-Shushensky nature reserve in 2013 although its territory is still closed for visitors.

This is a hard to reach region in South Siberia where nature untouched by humans is preserved in the wild form. Due to beautiful landscape and specific climate, this territory is described as “Siberian Switzerland”. The Voice of Russia correspondent has seen this unique area himself during a press-tour organized by the Russian Geographical Society.

This is a territory of blue rocky mountains where some places are covered with larch and pine forests of Taiga and the River Yenisei, one of the largest rivers in Siberia flows. This is also a kingdom of rare plants, animals and birds. One will hardly meet people there. There are a few wooden houses where the reserve’s staff lives. Their task is to protect the unique natural reserve. Inspector Leonid Veryasov together with his wife has been supervising the territory for over 15 years. He says that poachers are the main threat to the reserve.

“There have been many incidents. People have been detained with illegal weapons and for poaching. However, basically, people go there to kill wild mountain goat. We do our best to stop this activity. Some rich people also go there to shoot animals as it is prestigious,” Leonid Veryasov said.

This is a recess where there is neither television nor radio nor mobile telephone service. The inspectors use walkie-talkies to communicate with people at a distance of several dozen kilometers. The Western Sayan is Russia’s unspoilt land which differs from other regions. Biological and landscape diversity is its main value.

For the first time in the history of the reserve that was established in the 1970s, tourist centres will be set up. Pilot projects have been drawn up to promote ecotourism. In fact, when thinking of people one should not ignore the animals there. People should care of nature, says director of the reserve Gennady Kiselev.

“Tourism at the reserve does not provide for mass. It should be limited, in small groups. Routes must be laid so that they make no harm to the wild nature and do not spoil the climate there. In short, the stress factor should be minimized,” Gennady Kiselev said.

In 2013, the first visitors will be received at one of the cordons where comfortable wooden cottages are being built. Ecological corridor, special route for scientific and educational tourism will appear in the near future.

According to the director of the nature reserve, Finland, Sweden, Canada and the U.S. have shown keen interest in the project. This is understandable because there are no such large reserves elsewhere in the world. It occupies almost 400,000 hectares, Gennady Kiselev said.

“We are aimed at teaching and educating people to show a different attitude towards nature so that they realize how fragile it is and how beautiful the land of Siberia is,” Gennady Kiselev emphasized.

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