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Great Altay Transboundary Biosphere Reserve, Kazakhstan/Russian Federation

This reserve is composed of the Katunskiy biosphere reserve (Russian Federation, designated in 2000) and the Katon-Karagay biosphere reserve (Kazakhstan, designated in 2014). With a total surface of over 1.5 million ha, the area is used for livestock rearing, grazing, red deer farming, fodder production and apiculture by its 24,400 inhabitants. Tourism, hunting, fishing, and the collection of non-timber forest products are also widespread.

Designation date: 2017


Regional network:  EuroMAB

Ecosystem-based network: 




    Surface : 1,543,807 ha 

    • Core area(s): 269,822 ha
    • Buffer zone(s): 711,070 ha 
    • Transition zone(s): 562,915 ha

    Location: 49°31'22"N - 89°01'24"E

    Administrative Authorities

    Katon-Karagay State National Park

    Erlan Mustafin
    115 Bokey str.
    Katon-Karagay, Katon-Karagay district
    East Kazakhstan Oblast, 070908
    Republic of Kazakhstan

    Tel.: +7 2-18-49-2-21-91

    Katunskiy State National Biosphere Zapovednik

    Alexander Zateev
    Zapovednaya str. 1
    Ust-Koksa, Republic of Altai, 649490
    Russian Federation

    Tel.: +7 38848 22946

    Website ǀ Facebook ǀ Twitter 

    Ecological Characteristics

    The Great Altay TBR is part of the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion, which encompasses a great variety of ecosystems. More than 200 protected areas of different legal status make up 16.5%, respectively 17.6 million ha, of the total area of the ecoregion.

    Amongst others, the establishment of the Great Altay TBR focuses on the conservation of migratory species, especially ungulates and carnivores. For example, the snow leopard, an umbrella species for the high mountain areas of the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion, inhabits vast areas of the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion including parts of the Great Altai TBR.


    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    The transition zone of the Great Altay TBR covers 562,915 ha corresponding to 37% of the total TBR area. In this zone sustainable economic and human development is fostered and demonstration projects (e.g. on pasture rotation systems, rural tourism) are developed and implemented. There are about 24,400 people living in 38 settlements within the transition zone of the Great Altay TBR.

    A big share of the transition zones consists of private‐owned lands that are used for livestock grazing, red deer (maral) farming, fodder production and apiculture. Forestry activities include sanitary cutting and thinning cuts as well as restoration of degraded forest stands.

    Poverty, a low standard of living and the lack of a regular income are serious problems to the people living in the TBR territory, but also to the TBR ecosystems. Unemployment is fairly visible in the TBR territory, since some people live on subsistence farming and on products provided directly by the TBR ecosystems like berries, mushrooms, fish and meat of wild animals.

    To obtain fuel for heating their houses, they collect firewood (sometimes illegally) since coal is too expensive. Selling firewood, medicinal plants, pine cones, honey, dairy products or furs helps to obtain some income. The lack of alternative income possibilities is due to the absence of industry, the collapse of the Soviet farming system and the little developed tourism sector in the region. A limited number of people benefit from profitable maral farming.

    Tourism development could improve the economic situation, but so far local residents are little involved in this sector. Instead non-local tourist companies dominate the market. The difficult living conditions of the local people are the most important reason for the overexploitation and illegal use of natural resources.



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    Last updated: April 2019