Voronezh and Lipetsk regions
The reserve was established in 1923 with the purpose to restore the beaver (Castor fiber) population, which was practically wiped out in its Eurasian distribution area at the beginning of the twentieth century. It envelops the northern half of the Usmanskiy Pine (Pinus sylvestris) Forest, which is a large “island” of woody vegetation, situated between the Voronezh and Usman rivers at the western edge of the Oka-Don Plain. The reserve is the "island" of natural ecosystems surrounded by agricultural areas. It has a status of biosphere one.
The reserve is situated in Voronezh and Lipetsk regions within Oksko-Donskaya plain on the ancient terraces of the Voronezh river. It covers northern part of the Usman forest, one of the forest islands in the forest-steppe of Central-Chenozemny region. It was created in 1927. The area is 31.1 thousand ha. Territory is within the plain with the heights 90-160 m above sea level. River network is made up of tributaries of the Voronezh, Usmanka and Ivnisa rivers. Relief comprises flood plain terraces and flood plain itself.
Flora and Fauna
Pine forests with oaks and oak forests prevail there. In the eastern part of the zapovednik on the watershed of the Voronezh and Usmanka rivers native oak forests are concentrated. The floodplains are covered by alder forests. Flora of the reserve represents of 970 species of high plants (four of them are in the Red Data Set Book of Russia, 191 species of mushrooms, 134 species of moss and 124 species of lichens. Many animal species also occur in the reserve, they represent in general European type of fauna with habitats in broad-leaved forests and less in coniferous forests of south taiga and steppe zones. There are 199 species of birds, 58 species of mammals, 16 species of amphibian and reptiles in the area of the reserve.
One of the main objects for conservation is beaver. During last years number of beavers in the local population increased and the reserve became the main source of animals to spread them in their original habitats. Activity of beavers is important for the river regime and dynamics of the near-river ecosystems of the reserve. Red deer is the most abundant of hoofed animals and also wild boars, elks and roes are usual . The number of robbers is high, there are such species as badgers, foxes, racoon dogs. Two species of the martens - pine marten and stone marten live here, polecats, stoats and weasels. Wolf is also the common species for this area. Forest species prevail among rodents, but sometimes one can see steppe species. There are a lot of bats.
What to see
You will find plenty activities to do here in the Voronezhsky Biosphere Reserve. If you are feeling hungry, there is a good on-site café. There is also a comfortable hotel on the territory of the Reserve, just in case if spending here one day is not enough for you.
The Nature Museum of the Voronezhsky Reserve was founded in 1934. Since the tourists have not permission to visit protected areas, the Museum plays a crucial role of some kind of a window into the Nature.
The Beaver Land complex was created on the basis of the experimental breeding ground which dates back to 1932. It is comprised of the following facilities: a beaver shed, a two-level aquarium lived in by a pair of beavers, and an interactive museum called “Beaver House”. All of these facilities are open to visitors. There are also two ecotrails through the preserved areas and Yozhkiny Dorozhki Adventure Park in the trees crowns.