Russian Far East Temperate Forests

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Bikin River, Maritime Territory (Primorye or Primorsky Krai), Siberia, Russian Federation.
© WWF-Canon / Vladimir FILONOV

About the Area

This Global ecoregion is made up of 2 terrestrial ecoregions: Ussuri broadleaf and mixed forests; South Sakhalin-Kurile mixed forests.

One of the most distinctive temperate forests in the world, this ecoregion is also one of the best and last examples of temperate broadleaf and mixed forests in eastern Asia.

Compared to other temperate ecosystems, the level of endemism in plants and invertebrates in the region is extraordinarily high. These forests form a critical area for the conservation of Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica) and leopards (Panthera pardus).

This ecoregion was a refuge for many species during the last ice age because it escaped glaciation. It continues to do provide cover today, whilst similar forest communities in China, Japan, and the Korean Peninsula have been largely destroyed by intense human population and activity.

These forests are the most biologically diverse in all of northern Asia. Located in the Far East of Russia, South Sakhalin-Kurile mixed forests encompass the broadleaf forests at the southwest tip of Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands of Kunashir, Iturup and Shikotan.

Size:
210,000 sq. km (81,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Temperate Broadleaf and Mixed Forests

Geographic Location:
Asia: southeastern Pacific coast of Russia

Conservation Status:
Vulnerable

Local Species
Found here are the Manchurian species such as the Amur tiger, Amur leopard, musk deer (Moschus moschiferus), Manchurian red deer (Cervus elaphus xanthopygos), and the Himalayan bears. The coexistence of both brown bears (Ursos arctos) and Asiatic black bears (U. tibethanus) illustrate the overlap of boreal and temperate Asian habitats.

Rare bird species include the Chinese merganser (Mergus squamatus), Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata), Siberian spruce grouse (Falcipennis falcipennis), and the Blakiston's fish owl (Ketupa blakistoni).

Biodiversity is high for South Sakhalin-Kurile mixed forests comprising 1,380 species of vascular plants, 153 species of birds, and 31 species of mammals. The flora consists of at least in 556 genera and 135 families; at least 14 species are thought to be endemic. About 3,000 species of insects have been recorded here as well as 48 species of freshwater fish.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Vladimir FILONOV
Amur or Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica).
© WWF-Canon / Vladimir FILONOV

Featured species

The Siberian Grouse, Falcipennis falcipennis, is a medium sized grouse. Males are often polygamous, and many species have elaborate courtship displays. These heavily built birds have legs feathered to the toes. Most species are year-round residents, and do not migrate. These birds are mainly herbivorous, but will also feed on insects, especially when feeding young.

They are very similar to the North American Spruce Grouse, to which they are closely related. The Siberian grouse mostly occurs in forests of spruce, fir, larch and pine. Their range is far eastern Russia, and a small population formerly inhabited the far north east of China, where they are probably now extinct.

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Threats
Conversion to agriculture, deforestation, poaching, urban expansion, mining, and pollution pose serious threats to the ecoregion. The habitats of this ecoregion are protected in many formal reserves, but with Russia’s current economic situation there is not enough funding for proper reserve management.

Kurile Islands is one of the richest fishing zones in the world. As a result, moderate levels of fishing have escalated to an uncontrolled plundering of the sea with enormous quantities of crab, shrimp, squid, and sea urchin from the southern Kurile Islands region going directly to Japan.
WWF’s work
To promote a balanced wise use of game species as the basis for long-term conservation of the Amur tiger, WWF Russia has prepared the Ungulate Recovery Programme, which aims to:
  • Develop and adopt in Primorsky Province Administration and Parliament the official programme to restore ungulate numbers in tiger habitat
  • Develop concepts that reform the regional hunting industry and implement case studies on the model hunting leases
  • Implement best practice in sensible use of ungulates
  • Implement model projects that optimize hunting societies in tiger habitat with the goal of improving the prey base for the species and to better satisfy the needs of the local population
  • Conduct the experiments in biotechnical measures to increase the ungulates populations in tiger habitats
  • Disseminate the experience of model hunting leases.
  • Introduce a ban on hunting ungulates in reproduction zones or in areas where their numbers have dramatically declined.
  • Conduct the promotion campaign to support the programme and educate the hunters and wildlife managers.

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