The Astrakhanskiy Biosphere Reserve is situated some 90 km from the town Astrakhan in the Volga Delta. This largest inland delta in Europe is predominantly a freshwater riverine wetland complex with permanent and seasonal lakes and riverine floodplains. The area comprises a Ramsar site since its wetland support up to 750,000 waterfowls during mild winters.
Designation date: 1984
Regional network: EuroMAB
Surface : 97,816 ha
- Core area(s): 67,917 ha
- Buffer zone(s): 31,000 ha
- Transition zone(s): 433,620 ha
Location: 45°28' to 46°22'N; 47°49' to 49°07'E
The lower part of the Volga delta with channels, creeks and alluvial islands including shallow lakes; shallow bays "kultuks", representing a transformation zone between the delta and the fore-delta; freshwater wetlands; riverine forests dominated by Salix alba and S. triandra; shrublands with Tamarix ramosissima and Rubus caesius including Carex acutiformis; grasslands dominated by Phragmites australis and Typha angustifolia; permanently flooded areas such as shallow bays "kultuks" and fore-delta covered by emergent vegetation.
A particular feature is the presence of lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) – a common species of the tropics - which here finds its northernmost distribution. This species increased in distribution from 3.5 hectares in the 1930s throughout the entire Volga Delta to several thousands of hectares in the biosphere reserve in the 1980s.
For more than 30 years the Astrakhan biosphere reserve organizes environmental tours in the Volga delta and accumulated a great experience in arranging mass excursions for groups of children and adults, as well as individual excursions and tours for nature lovers, ornithologists, and members of various expeditions.
Over the past decade there is a trend for promoting the types of tourism, which are alternative to fishing and hunting. It is connected with the fact that the main tourist brand of the region, which used to be fishing and hunting over the past decades, has exhausted itself. Recently the flow of tourists to the Astrakhan oblast grew from 150 thousand to 2.5 million people per year. The recreation load that multiply increased began to significantly influence the condition of biological resources of the region, because the boats with fishermen and hunters endlessly moving across the delta increase the wildlife disturbance factor for feathered inhabitants and mammals, and fish and game stocks are rapidly reducing.
Last updated: April 2019