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Metsola Biosphere Reserve, Russian Federation

Located at the border with Finland, the site comprises the Kostomukshsky reserve and contains one of the oldest intact north-taiga forests in Northwest Russia. Some 30,000 permanent inhabitants live in this biosphere reserve, with a surface area of 345,700 ha. The north-taiga forests are essential for the reproduction of many bird species. The local population lives from forestry, agriculture, fishing, hunting and gathering non-timber forest products.

Designation date: 2017


Regional network:  EuroMAB

Ecosystem-based network: 




    Surface : 404,613 ha 

    • Core area(s): 123,613 ha
    • Buffer zone(s): 70,275 ha
    • Transition zone(s): 210,725 ha

    Location: 64°27'50"N; 30°19'30"E

    Administrative Authorities

    Metsola Biosphere Reserve
    Priozernaya, 2
    Kostomuksha, 186930
    Russian Federation

    Tel.: +8 (814 59) 5 45 24

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    Ecological Characteristics

    The Biosphere Reserve is located on the eastern side of the Western-Karelian Upland. Ultimate absolute elevation marks vary from 250 to 290 m above sea level. The terrain is rugged, and relative elevation varies from 20 to 100 m.

    The Biosphere Reserve displays a wide range of typical and unique north-taiga ecosystems. Forests which have never been clear-cut are well-managed. Lower-intensity selective cutting covered only river banks, lake shores and the nearest surroundings of old villages. This is demonstrative for northern Europe, where few extensive forests have survived. The BR is located in one of such forests covering about 300 thousand ha. It will thus be Fennoscandia’s largest biosphere reserve and Europe’s westernmost reserve with well-preserved primeval pine taiga forests of well-defined pyrogenic genesis. The reserve also exhibits the peat bog and freshwater White Sea ecosystems typical of north taiga.

    The Biosphere Reserve is home to over 1200 animal species. Mammal fauna shows typical north-taiga features. The common animals of the subzone, are squirrel, marten, wolverine, brown bear and forest reindeer. They form a comparatively large population because their biotopes are well-preserved.Bird fauna displays a typical north-taiga pattern: northern species make up 39%, while species of southern origin account for only 21% of nesting birds. The total bird population density is 179 couples/ – an average index for north taiga. Fortunately, the nesting grounds are exactly in the centre of the White Sea-Bothnia watershed. A high taiga bird species diversity is due to the high conservation quality of aboriginal ecosystems. Increased nesting density indicators have been revealed here for majority of taiga aborigines such as brambling, rustic bunting, parrot crossbill, waxwing, gray-headed chickadee, Siberian jay, three-toed woodpecker, black woodpecker, boreal owl, great gray owl, golden-eye, whooper swan, bean goose, black-throated diver, lesser black-backed gull, etc.


    Socio-Economic Characteristics

    The majority of the employable population of the biosphere reserve area is involved in tourism. Old villages, such as Voknavolok, Borovoy, Voinitsa, etc., maintain their native culture and language glorified in the Kalevala epos and contribute to moral education and cognitive tourism. Many folklore collectors, ethnographers, historians and archaeologists come there to look for national roots. Economic activities in Kostomukshsky State Reserve can only be conducted in accordance with the Status of the facility Kostomukshsky State Reserve (the Russian segment of Russian-Finnish Friendship Reserve) and consist of forestry, hunting, fishing and excursions.



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    Last updated: July 2019