Digest March 2022

Prioksko-Terrasny State Reserve announces the completion of the final stage of the inter-regional environmental education competition project “12 Wonders of the Prioksky Forest”! The theme of the final stage was the last wild bull of Europe – the bison. We offered the participants two options for writing a paper – with a scientific or artistic bias, or a combination of these options. The Commission of the Scientific Department and the Department of Ecological Education and Cognitive Tourism of the Prioksko-Terrasny State Reserve is pleased to announce the winners and thanks every participant for supporting ecological initiatives!

On March 2, state inspectors in the field of environmental protection as part of the firefighting team of the Prioksko-Terrasny State Reserve took part in interagency fire drills held on the territory of the Dankovskiy area forestry, in the Karpova Polyana settlement. Exercises on interaction and methods of extinguishing forest fires are held under an agreement on the involvement of forces and means in emergency situations between the Committee of Forestry of the Moscow region, the State Forestry Agency of the Moscow Region “Centerforest” and “Prioksko-Terrasny State Reserve”. According to the legend of exercises, state inspectors in the field of environmental protection during a patrol of the protected area of Prioksko-Terrasny State Natural Biosphere Reserve discovered a landscape fire in the forestry “Dankovskoye”. Information about the fire was immediately transmitted to the control service of Mosoblles, and the firefighting team proceeded to eliminate the source of fire. The help arrived and a joint effort of the staff of Mosoblles, a branch of the Mosoblles and the Tsentrleskhoz, extinguished the fire. The involved forces from structural subdivisions of different departments quickly deployed some of available fire-fighting equipment and proceeded to extinguish the fire. Various equipment was used: blowers Angara, fire-fighting satchels ERMAK and high pressure motor-pump Sprut-3. The training task was solved clearly, special means worked in the optimal mode. Exercises have shown full readiness of personnel, serviceability of fire-fighting equipment and tools. The engineer on protection and forest protection of the first category of the branch “Russian forest” Makusheva Nina Vasilyevna: “As part of the implementation plan to combat forest fires, approved by the Committee of Forestry, we are holding today some interagency exercises. These exercises are very important and necessary to be well prepared for the future fire season”. Please be reminded that near Moscow region fire season starts from the moment of melting of snow cover and establishment of positive average daily air temperature, and it lasts until the fall rainy weather, establishment of negative average daily air temperature. This period usually lasts about six and a half months, from April to November.

Today in the auditorium of the Central City Library a long-awaited meeting was held. The employees of the “Prioksko-Terrasny State Reserve” held the first lesson within the educational project “School of protected friends”. The students learned about the prerequisites for the establishment of specially protected natural areas from ancient times to the present day. Tatyana Sintsova, the librarian of the state educational institution “Serpukhov college”: According to the curriculum the students of the 2nd year of our college study the discipline – ecology. Our meetings are a significant help to the learning process and deeper immersion into the subject. Natalia Vladimirovna Smirnova, Head Librarian in the Reading Room of Chekhov Central City Library: “Ecology is a modern and relevant science. We as adults must inculcate a love of the younger generation to the living nature and the world around them. That is why the idea of creation of the educational project “School of Reserved Friends”, which is realized by the Reserve employees, appeared. Natalia Shpilenok, Deputy Director for ecological education, development and tourism of the Federal State Institution “Prioksko-Terrasny State Nature Biosphere Reserve”: “Our plans are to make the work of “School of Reserved Friends” regular. The main objective of the project is to acquaint the younger generation with the specifics of the reserve as a federal-level environmental institution.  We hope that after the end of the project the reserve will have not only new friends, but also young employees! Classes at the “School of Reserve Friends” involve meetings with the Reserve’s staff, interactive stories about the Reserve’s activities, flora and fauna with the demonstration of videos, as well as visits to the Reserve’s Central Manor.

“Prioksko-Terrasny State Reserve” invites everyone to take part in the children’s art competition “The World of Protected Nature”. The contest is held within the action “March of parks – 2022” under the motto – “To natural ecosystems – preservation and restoration!” The contest includes only one nomination – a drawing on the topic: “Natural Ecosystems”. Young naturalists can choose a particular natural ecosystem, study its features, learn what is unusual about it. The drawing can depict any natural scene – sunrise, a river or mountain landscape, animals and plants. Whether the drawing will include dozens of elements, or just one – only the author decides.

On March 16, “Prioksko-Terrasny State Reserve” took part in the International Tourism Exhibition MITT. The Crocus Expo International Exhibition Center was chosen as the venue for this large-scale event. MITT is the largest international business platform for countries, regions and tourism companies from all around the world to present their products and services to the Russian market. This is where the spring season of Moscow environmental and tourist festivals begins.  This year MITT was held for the 28th time. A single information booth of Moscow region demonstrated the unique opportunities of the region for travel and recreation. At the exhibition site the staff of the Reserve, presented its potential in close proximity to colleagues from the municipalities of Serpukhov, Istra, Ruza, Zaraisk, Odintsovo. Prioksko-Terrasny Reserve, the only one in Moscow region, presented its tourist opportunities and attractions to participants and guests of the exhibition. It was especially pleasant to meet those who have already visited the excursion route “The Road to the Bison” – there were many questions about the Reserve and new excursion tours. Irina Pushkova, chief specialist on ecological education: “Participation in the exhibition is a great opportunity to tell about yourself, to communicate with colleagues and to exchange experience. Such events are always full of positive emotions. The format of the exhibition provides a unique opportunity to meet with professionals in the tourism industry, to absorb new ideas and see promising and popular areas for development. At MITT, we once again found many new contacts and maintained old relationships with our traditional partners.

We believe that the Day of the Forest is a perfect occasion to tell the history of the Priokskiy forest from the times of the Mongol-Tatar invasion to the present day. Nowadays, the reserved forest is an untouched island of nature that lives according to natural laws, man does not interfere in these processes. But it has not always been like this. The first written sources on the territory, which are presently included within the borders of the Prioksko-Terrasny Reserve, date from the 14th-17th centuries. Then, after the Mongol-Tatar invasion, the ruined Chernigov Principality fell apart and its lands with forests on the left bank fell into the hands of Moscow princes. The first mention of Serpukhov, for the construction of which massively cut ancient oak trees, appeared in the will of Ivan Kalita in 1339. The list of the centenary book mentions that Serpukhov and its surroundings paid to the Grand Duke a tribute in honey – every year almost 2 tons of product were sent to Moscow. Also, the bark of this tree was massively used for weaving slippers. For one pair it was necessary to spend 3 – 4 lindens, but this nondurable footwear was worn out in a week. One of the protected glades on the bank of Tadenka today is called Ugolnitsa. Charcoal was produced there. The process of its making looked as follows: in the woods in the place of felling they piled a heap of firewood, sometimes digging before it a shallow pit. The top of the wood was covered with turf and earth, and then it was set on fire. If there was a lack of oxygen, the wood would quickly char and the heap would be disassembled, taking out the ready fuel. With the advent of the 18th century the first manufactories began to appear in Serpukhov. A cascade of dams is built on the river Suska, a paper mill is constructed. And the territory of the future reserve becomes an object of industrial development. Several centuries of industrial use of the forest wealth led to the denudation of dunes, which washed away the sand to meadows and arable land. To stop the process of desertification, in 1888, the Forest Preservation Law was issued, according to which the forests on the left bank of the Oka were recognized as protective forests. The Second World War also had a great impact on the forest cover. Since 1941, in order to protect against a possible attack, some fortifications were created. And for over 70 years the Prioksky forest has been restoring the trauma caused to it by man. After all, no felling or logging is carried out on the specially protected natural area. Thanks to this, now the average age of the trees is about the same as that of the reserve. Forests occupy 92% of the reserve. Of these, 40% of the territory is covered with pine forests and 35% – with birch forests. The modern tree cover of the reserve is highly mosaic. The forest has always helped man in hard times, but the time has come, after thousands of years of uninterrupted use, to repay nature by creating conditions for natural processes. So let’s be attentive to our green friend in the name of harmonious coexistence of man and nature! This publication uses materials from the book “Human Influence on the Landscape of the Prioksko-Terrasny Reserve from Ancient Times to the Present Day” by Vasily Demidov.

On March 19, a meeting of the section of experts on the conservation and restoration of the European bison was held at the Prioksko-Terrasny State Reserve. The event was attended by representatives of PAs implementing the bison conservation and restoration program. The section began with a welcoming speech of Irina Makanova, Director of the Department of State policy of regulation of the development of protected areas of the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia. “I think it is very important for all of us to gather a place where a successful program for the conservation and restoration of the bison is being implemented. Discussion of the draft Action Plan for the implementation of the Bison Conservation Strategy in the Russian Federation for the period from 2022 to 2023 was a priority item on the agenda. The discussion touched upon the issues of improving the regulatory framework, the protection of red listed animals within and outside protected areas and the necessary biotechnical and veterinary measures for the continued positive dynamics in the population growth of the rare animal, the bison. Roman Astaktovich Mnatsekanov, Senior Coordinator of the WWF Office in the Russian Caucasus ecoregion, took an active part in the session on these questions and the experts also touched upon the question of ecological analysis of territories suitable for the creation of new free groups. Ekaterina Leonidovna Tsibizova, senior researcher and head of the bison nursery at Oka State Reserve, spoke about the bison resettlement plan. In 2022/2023 is expected to replenish the free population of the Mordovia Reserve from the Central Bison Nursery of Prioksko-Terrasny Reserve and exchange breeding animals between nurseries. A heated discussion was provoked by a report from Viktor Pererva, Senior Researcher of the Prioksko-Terrasny State Reserve, on the fulfillment of his assignment to the Petrovskoye hunting area and his report on the prospects of the free bison population as a whole. At the end, the participants discussed environmental education and tourism. The importance of working with local people was not ignored, as the overall success of the conservation and restoration of rare species depends on their education and loyalty. After the official part of the event, the participants, united by a common idea, discussed the issues for a long time, and all those interested visited the Central Bison nursery as part of an organized group.

The staff of the department of environmental education and educational tourism “Prioksko-Terrasny State Natural Biosphere Reserve” took part in the interregional conference “Best practices in the development of educational tourism and volunteerism in specially protected natural areas of federal and regional importance. The event was held in St. Petersburg on March 23 in the framework of the XXI International Forum “Ecology of Big City”. Particular attention was paid to the reports and presentations of representatives of specially protected natural areas of federal importance and the authorities responsible for the management of regional protected areas. The forum was traditionally attended by many public, socially oriented organizations. Specialists presented the development of their institutions, interesting solutions and practices related to the development of ecological tourism and organization of volunteer activities. Conference participants also discussed the development of an accessible educational environment, new approaches to the development of environmental routes, opportunities for inclusive environmental education and legal aspects of creating eco-trails. Irina Pushkova, Chief Environmental Education Specialist of Prioksko-Terrasny State Reserve: “We visited a unique format event. More than 30 speakers, who were specialists of different protected areas of our country, presented their best practices, shared their successful cases and professional experience. Only valuable and useful information was presented in short 15-minute presentations. The participants were given the opportunity to ask questions and exchange contacts, as well as meet personally with the experts of those protected areas, which are far away from us and with whom we interacted only online before”. The organizers of the forum were “SPNA Directorate of St. Petersburg.

The second lecture of the educational project “School of protected friends” was held on March 30 in the auditorium of the A.P. Chekhov Central City Library. The class was dedicated to the history of the formation of the Prioksko-Terrasniy Reserve. Vasily Demidov, Deputy Director of the Prioksko-Terrasny State Reserve, made a presentation on this topic. The students of the “Serpukhov College” learned about what the reserve land was like 20,000 years ago, how people of the first settlements lived here and what they did, how the climate changed. In the process of the lecture, the participants went back to the basic concepts of biology and geography course and received new knowledge in an understandable and accessible form. Vasily Demidov: “I think that holding events devoted to the issue of environmental education for youth is of vital importance. Today’s lecture, on the one hand, allowed the children to recall the knowledge they got at school and to obtain new information and clearly see examples of interaction between man and nature. I hope that our meeting will be another step towards nature and harmonious interaction with it. Classes at the “School of Protected Friends” will continue. Its students will meet the Reserve personnel and get acquainted with the tasks that are solved by the representatives of different departments of the Reserve every day. At the end of the series of lessons, they will visit the Central Manor of the Reserve and the Central Bison Nursery.

Prioksko-Terrasny Reserve took part in the tourist action “City Day”, which was held on March 31 in the tourist information center at Domodedovo airport. The employees of Prioksko-Terrasny State Reserve together with the staff of the Committee for Advertising and Tourism of Serpukhov City Administration prepared a special program. Young tourists studied the traces of animals using the kinetic sand in an exciting workshop and were pleased to hug and be photographed with the bison, the symbol of Prioksko-Terrasny Reserve! Guests of the Tourist Information Center participated in an entertaining quiz “Who wants to be a tourist of the City of S.?” and received memorable prizes. Everyone had an opportunity to take part in the tasting of cheese. The guests took part in a process of making miniature dolls with Serpukhov master. We look forward to welcoming all travelers!