UNESCO World Heritage Centre report is now avalible online
The World Heritage property вЂњNatural System of Wrangel Island ReserveвЂќ (NSWIR) is characterised by a remarkably high level of biodiversity, unique in the Arctic. In 2004, NSWIR was inscribed on the World Heritage List. In August 2017 there came mission team (Mr Francesco BANDARIN, Assistant Director-General for Culture, Ms Jenna BOON IUCN Expert, Mr Clemens KГњPPER Europe and North America Unit) to analyse the changes which the directory of Natural System of Wrangel Island Reserve was supposed to make in order to preserve the unique territory. Here comes the report
Wrangel Island state natural reserve has just finished the season of accepting tourist ships.
During their visiting tourists have been introduced to the unique nature of the reserve, they have met musk-oxes, walruses, polar bears, lemmings, foxes, many types of sea colonial birds. There were held on-shore excursions - expeditions with spending the night in guesthouses as part of the tourist ships acceptance.
During the last day of visit made by touristic ship вЂњAkademik ShokalskiyвЂќ which cruise was organized by companies "Heritage expedition" and вЂњTravel PacificвЂќ and went along the Northeast Passage from Murmansk to Anadyr and has ended with an outstanding event. Next to the place where the corps of Greenland right whale was washed ashore by the most conservative estimate over 230 bears have gathered. There were male and female bears, some with little bears of all ages, two female bears with 4 little ones. Tourists were lucky to find such unique gathering of bears because the ship has passed by the island. There were scientists and security supervisors on the ship. International scientific group for monitoring population of white bears on Chukotka and Alaska working in that area of the island was informed about the finding. At the moment, thorough scientific observations are made.
Photos by A.Gruzdev
UNESCO mission had visited В«Wrangel islandВ» nature reserve.
The mission had visited island from 12th until 15th august. The group included the general managerвЂ™s assistant of the UNESCO department in culture Francesco Bandarin, expert of the International Union for the Protection of Nature Jenn Boon, specialist of the European and North-American division of the UNESCO World heritage center Clemens Cooper, chiefвЂ™s assistant of the Russian nature supervision Amirkhan Amirkhanov, chief of the bureau in the international department of Ministry of natural resources and ecology of Russian Federation Irina Fominyh.
Voyage was supported with support of the Ministry of culture of Russian Federation.
Main goals were to check the management of the World heritage object В«Wrangel islandВ» and level of the anthropogenic impact on the nature sphere of the reserve in trend of ecological tourism and realization of obliges of territory cleaning from collected waste from previous years of reclaiming the island.
All mission members were saying in one voice that their old dream to visit Wrangel island had come true. Nature hadnвЂ™t let us down, same for helicopter pilots. The mission had arrived on the island right in time (to my great surprise). ThatвЂ™s unique for Wrangel. Guests were accommodated in new guest house on cordon В«Unexpected riverВ». Cordon is equipped with solar panels, they give enough energy during polar day for lighting and batteries charging.
After accommodation there was a trip on the one of the ecological routes, to the place of the rising of first Russian flag on island. Weather had significantly worsened at that time, but it hadnвЂ™t interrupted the excursion. Lots of polar bears, bevy of Canadian brant, many other birdsвЂ™ species and several muskoxen herds were met during the trip. Amirkhan Amirkhanov, as botanist, was very interested in islandвЂ™s flora. Must say that he used every free minute to grab a camera and shoot photos of flowers.
Discussion of questions and making further plans were in the evening. Next day the whole group rode on another ecological route to В«DoubtfulВ» cordon. The day was nice, distance was near 60 kilometers. WeвЂ™ve met tourist group from ship В«Professor HromovВ» during the trip. WeвЂ™ve visited the meridian border and paleoeskimo encampment. Many different species of birds and animals were met during the ride. Except only wolverine and wolf.
В«DoubtfulВ» cordon is one of the places where large stock of scrap-metal was accumulated. Cleaning of this place is planned for next year.
This cordon is the main place where tourists arrive in first time. There is also a guest house with solar panels. Wind generator is mounted in addition. Next day whole group had made a trip to Doubtful spit, where is the observation point for walruses, polar bears and other marine mammals. There weвЂ™ve met walruses and polar bears.
Short excursion in mountain part of the island was held after lunch.
First wrap-ups of the visit were penciled before departure. Experts had given the high grading of the biodiversity conserving in reserve. Amirkhan Magomedovich Amirkhanov mentioned that tundra had restored almost completely after previous impact. Of course, it is too early to talk about resulting report, but the main thing was said: status of the UNESCO World heritage object territory wonвЂ™t be changed to В«threatenedВ», because there are no premises for it. Also the works of improving the infrastructure on cordons were graded positively. Installation of the new houses allows using them as for tourists reception as for accomplishment of the main reserveвЂ™s goals.
Unfortunately, it wasnвЂ™t a success to show commission members everything вЂ“ there was so little time. But nature presented them few very sunny and warm days.
By the way, when helicopter was starting the propellers, one young polar bear was going towards it too to say farewell to guests. When helicopter had started to taking off heвЂ™d ran away at last at arms length. But it didnвЂ™t intercept host of the island from looking in our house that evening. Garage entrance hadnвЂ™t been closed yet, the bear В«ran the showВ» there a little until we packed him off. He was very interested in a box of food, so he visited us twice that day later.
P.S. Now I stay at central reserveвЂ™s cordon in Ushakovskoe village. Dynamical works of scrap-metal disposal are going. Presumed, that these works will be finished this year. В«MotherВ» with two yearlings is always present in the village, another female polar bear has come, but without cubs.
Snow geese packs spent nights near houses. They almost donвЂ™t pay attention to us, only step aside when you pass near them. Young arctic fox is permanently met, which has naturalized in the village for a while.
Bear Cub Saved on Wrangel Island
On October 28, a family of Polar bears вЂ“ a she-bear and a bear cub вЂ“ got in trouble and were found in the area of Ushakovskoe lodge. A curious bear cub was playing with a tin can and bit it. The can got stuck in his mouth. Ilia Petukhov, state environment protection inspector, noticed it on his patrolling, and the bear got assistance immediately. Specialists put the mother bear and bear cub down, and took the can out. In a couple of hours, the animals were safe and sound, and could continue their journey.
New book of famous Russian photographer Sergey Gorshkov "Wrangel Island" was published.
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The opening of the memorial sign in honor of the first raising of the Russian flag on Wrangel Island in 1911.
The memorial sign in honor of the first raising of Russian flag on Wrangel Island in 1911 by the Soviet ship "Vaigach", who carried out hydrographic research in the northeast of the country, was inaugurated. The sign was opened by employees of Wrangel Island Nature Reserve at the head of director of the reserve Gruzdev A.R., together with American scientist Joel Berger, who was engaged in research of musk ox on Wrangel Island, and the crew of the helicopter MI-8 of airline "Chukchi-Avia". A memorial sign was manufactured to the order of administration of the Reserve by "ABD-design" studio in St. Petersburg.
Unique finding in the Natural Reserve "Wrangel Island".
In September this year during the works on monitoring of Alaska-Chukotka polar bear population, A.B. Tyuryakov, senior researcher from Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (Roshydromet), S.E. Belikov (PhD in Biology), senior researcher from the All-Russian Institute for Nature Protection, together with the director of the Nature Reserve A.B. Gruzdev (PhD in Biology), found a stone of unusual shape in the stream bed near Cape Uering. The stone resembled spinal bone or joint. The sample was delivered to the research vessel Akademik Tryoshnikov in Saint Petersburg. In October, A. Gruzdev passed the sample to the Zoological Museum of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The first examinations showed that the experts paleontologists had two spinal bones of a fossil animal in front of them. Presumably, the found parts of the skeleton belong to Plesiosaurus that lived in ancient seas. The finding is being examined by the specialists from the Zoological Museum. It is the first finding of this kind on the Wrangel Island.
From July to September a scientific expedition of the Geological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow) worked on the Island. The researchers managed to prove the findings of corals made in the 1960s. The age of the corals is estimated to be about 420 million years (Silurian deposit in the lower course of the Lemmingovaya River). Corals were also located in the coal formations (300-320 million years) on the Viyuchny mountain pass and in the coast outcropping of the river Somnitelnaya. The most interesting and rare finding were the clamshells found in the Triassic deposits in the South of the Island вЂ“ in the outflow of the river Krasnaya. Their age, according to preliminary estimates, is about 216-203 million years ago. The found collections of faunal remains have been passed to the experts for examination and specification of the age of inclosing deposits.
21st September 2014 employees of the nature reserve вЂ“ senior state inspectors Igor Oleynikov, Denis Vasiliev, Ivan Rusov, Ilya Petukhov, Sergei Mironov, Grigory Abramkin, headed by the director of the nature reserve Alexander Gruzdev, erected a monument вЂњCaptain Robert BartlettвЂ™s CampвЂќ.
Regarding the history of the Wrangel Island:
"Karluk", the flagship of the Canadian Arctic Expedition commanded by Captain Robert Bartlett set off to the Arctic Ocean in search for new lands in 1913. From the very beginning, the ship was out of luck: she was forced to drift, and was taken from Alaska coast to the Wrangel Island. The ship could not withstand ice pressure and sank, the people got out on the ice and with great difficulties reached the island, then uninhabited. But not all the people вЂ“ eight of them died. Robert Bartlett, the captain of вЂњKarlukвЂќ, made a heroic effort to save the rest of the crew: accompanied by an Eskimo he went across the De Long Strait (Longa) on a dog sled in search of help. In September of 1914 Bartlett reached the Wrangel Island on board of American vessel вЂњBearвЂќ.
Captain Bartlett performed an unprecedented deed in the history of the Arctic вЂ“ he was the only person who managed to cross the De Long Strait and save his crew from death.
Hats off to Captain Bartlett!
The author of the monument вЂ“ Konstantin Novikov.
In July and August 2014 two cruise ships, Professor Khromov and Hanseatic visited the Wrangel Island and brought ecological tourists. Five tourists had a 10 days excursion with a representative of the nature reserve. The visitors stayed at guest houses.