Eastern Siberian Taiga - A Global Ecoregion

The largest tract of unbroken forest in the world

About the Area
The taiga forests of eastern Siberia cover more than a quarter of Russia's territory. Much of the region is contained within the watershed of two enormous river systems - the Yenisey and Lena.
Local Species
Dominant trees are Daurian larch (Larix dahurica), Siberian spruce (Picea obobata), Siberian fir (Abies sibirica), and the Siberian stone pine (Pinus sibirica).

The understory is composed of Dwarf birches (Betula), Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus), and Bilberry (V. myrtillus).

The taiga is home to Russia's largest populations of Brown bear (Ursus arctos), Moose (Alces alces), Wolf (Canis lupis), Red fox (Vulpes vulpes), Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), Wolverine (Gulo gulo), and the Sable (Martes zibellina).

Bird species include the Golden eagle (Aguila chrysaetus), Black-billed capercaillie (Tetrao parvirostris), Siberian Spruce grouse (Falcipennis falcipennis), Siberian accentor (Prunella montanella), Great gray owl (Strix nebulosa), and Naumann's thrush (Turdus naumanni).

Threats
Coal mining, logging, pollution, oil and gas development all pose threats. Several major hydroelectric projects are also planned for the region.

Resources
NationalGeographic.com
Wetlands area surrounded by the typical Yakutia agricultural landscape, birch groves and meadows, ... / ©: WWF-Canon / Hartmut JUNGIUS
Wetlands area surrounded by the typical Yakutia agricultural landscape, birch groves and meadows, Russia.
© WWF-Canon / Hartmut JUNGIUS

Snapshot: Ecoregion 84

Size:
3,900,000 sq. km (1,500,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Boreal Forests/Taiga

Geographic Location:
Asia: Russia

Conservation Status:
Relatively Stable/Intact

Quiz Time!

Why are "nutcrackers" so called?

Answer:
Birds called nutcrackers are suitably named because they smash pine cones against rocks or trees with their beaks. When the seeds spill out, they store them under their tongues and carry them off to deposit in soil, moss, lichen, or tree cracks. This private stash nourishes them throughout the harsh winter.

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Sakha Republic (Yakutia), Siberia, Russian Federation.
© WWF-Canon / Hartmut JUNGIUS

The largest tract of unbroken forest in the world

About the Area
The taiga forests of eastern Siberia cover more than a quarter of Russia's territory. Much of the region is contained within the watershed of 2 enormous river systems - the Yenisey and Lena.

It represents 1 of the most extensive natural forests left in the world. The eastern Siberian taiga is considered the heart of Siberia because most of the typical Siberian species are best represented there.

The average annual temperature is below freezing. Annual precipitation ranges from 400 to 600 mm in the western part, gradually decreasing to 200 mm eastward. The ecoregion is very rich in mineral resources. The eastern Siberian taiga has an extensive river network.

Snapshot: Ecoregion 84

Size:
3,900,000 sq. km (1,500,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Boreal Forests/Taiga

Geographic Location:
Asia: Russia

Conservation Status:
Relatively Stable/Intact
Local Species
The flora of eastern Siberia (including the mountains) consists of more than 2,300 species. Flora of vascular plants of Central Siberian plateau number 1,010 species. More than 650 species have been found in Olekminskij Zapovednik. Nationally endangered plant species (15 in total) include: Cypripedium macranthon, Calypso bulbosa, Orchis militaris and Cotoneaster lucidus.

Dominant trees are Daurian larch (Larix dahurica), Siberian spruce (Picea ovovata), Siberian fir (Abies sibirica), and the Siberian stone pine (Pinus sibirica). The understory is composed of Dwarf birches (Betula), Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus), and Bilberry (V. myrtillus).

The taiga is home to Russia's largest populations of brown bear (Ursus arctos), moose (Alces alces), wolf (Canis lupis), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), wolverine (Gulo gulo), and the sable (Martes zibellina).

Bird species include the golden eagle (Aguila chrysaetus), black-billed capercaillie (Tetrao parvirostris), Siberian spruce grouse (Falcipennis falcipennis), Siberian accentor (Prunella montanella), great gray owl (Strix nebulosa), and Naumann's thrush (Turdus naumanni).

In Krasnoyarsky Krai, which constitutes only part of the ecoregion, there are 4 species of amphibians, 2 species of reptiles, 203 species of birds and about 80 mammals. There are 11 nationally threatened vertebrate species, including Aquila chrysaetos, Pandion haliaetus, Falco peregrinus, Ciconia nigra and Grus monacha.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Vladimir FILONOV
Red fox (Vulpes vulpes); Bikin River, Siberia, Russian Federation.
© WWF-Canon / Vladimir FILONOV

Featured species

Great gray owl (Strix nebulosa) is dark grey overall interspersed with bars and flecks of light grey and white. Although they appear to be amongst the largest owls, much of this bulk is due to their fluffy plumage, and the great gray owl weighs half as much as other owls of a similar size. Its large head and prominent facial disk make the yellow eyes appear small. A noticeable white ‘moustache’ strip is under the facial disk, broken by a black ‘bow-tie’. The feet are heavily feathered and remain hidden from view.

These Owls are active at night, but also at dusk and just before dawn. They may also be active during the day during breeding season. They fly with soft, slow wingbeats and generally do not often move more than short distances between. It hunts mainly during early morning and late afternoon. It uses its excellent hearing to locate its prey which includes rodents, rats, mice, shrews, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, moles, and weasels.

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Threats
Coal mining, logging, pollution, oil and gas development all pose threats. Several major hydroelectric projects are also planned for the region. The existing network of protected areas is not sufficient for such an extensive region. Also worrying are widespread forest fires, intensive clear-cuts in the central and southern taiga subzones and poaching, which threaten the viability of species such as the Siberian tiger.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Hartmut JUNGIUS
Diamond mining along the Ebelja river. Eastern Siberian Taiga, Republic of Yakutsk, Russian Federation.
© WWF-Canon / Hartmut JUNGIUS
WWF’s work
The threat posed to species including the Siberian tiger and Amur leopard is of global significance. The Russian Far East region of Primorski Krai and Khabarovsk Krai represents the last remaining habitat of Siberian tigers.

WWF works to protect the Siberian tiger and its habitat. One example of the work WWF undertakes in this region is a project which aims to:

- Conserve tiger populations and regional biodiversity by channeling funds to appropriate agencies to control widespread poaching of tigers and other wildlife.

- Collaborate with Russian scientists, conservationists, and local stakeholders in preparing and implementing habitat conservation plans and developing a framework for a comprehensive wildlife and resource management plan for the Amur region.

- Support educational programmes aimed at enhancing awareness of environmental and conservation issues in local communities.

Read more:

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