The Baikal trees are the guards of the most amazing lake on the planet. Forests play a crucial role in the ecosystem. And it is our common duty to preserve this valuable natural heritage.
Taiga forests near Lake Baikal give the unique beauty to the lake’s surroundings, but their role is actually much more significant. Trees are natural filters that purify and preserve water. They pacify the severe Siberian winds and protect the soil.
Forests occupy more than 15 million hectares of the catchment area of the lake. Almost 80% of the territory is coniferous: larch, pine, cedar, spruce and fir tree grow there. Birch and aspen grow on the rest of the territory. The Baikal taiga has become home to hundreds of species of animals and birds, many of them are listed in the Red Book of Russia and that of the Republic of Buryatia. But the forest has been exposed to serious danger for many years.
What harms the Siberian taiga?
If earlier people established signs saying “Protect the forest from the fire”, today they can be justly replaced with the following signs: “Protect the forest from people”. According to statistics, more than 90% of fires are people’s fault. Fires destroy hundreds of hectares of trees in the Baikal region every year. Only in 2015 1.2 million hectares of taiga have burned. The area of the catastrophe is equal to the area of the entire European state - Montenegro. This should never happen again.
However, forestry is going through hard times nowadays. There are not enough skilled workers; there is lack of necessary equipment and funds. 80% of fire extinguishing equipment is outdated. Obviously, it will not be possible to survive the fire-dangerous period without the help of other regions, without the attraction of additional funds from the Federal Reserve and without people’s help.
About 40 million cubic meters of forests are illegally destroyed in the Baikal region every year. “Shadow loggers” often simply go to the taiga, without the need for any permits. And sometimes they may be quite creative, organizing “sanitary logging” of the supposedly burned or rotten trees. However, in addition to that, 200 million cubic meters of taiga are logged illegally. And approximately 64% of this amount of wood is exported to China.
As they say, tourist’s treasure is the forest’s disaster. The amount of garbage left by people after their picnics and hikes is simply huge. Plastic and glass lead to fires, extinction of local flora and many other sad consequences. Each of us bears responsibility for these.
Please use biodegradable detergents, napkins, utensils. You can easily find such things in stores. We also remind you: an initiative has been put forward to ban the sale of plastic bags in a radius of 20 km around Baikal.
• Regular multiplication of the number of trees;
• Correct and timely care;
• Rational forest exploitation;
• Reliable protection.
The issues of funding and supervision can be left to the relevant authorities. But don’t think that everything depends on them. Any of us can help the forests and Baikal! For this purpose:
• Never throw away cigarette butts, matches and glass in the forest;
• Do not ignite dry grass, warn others against doing it;
• Do not make a bonfire near peat bogs. Choose only mineral soil (sand, clay, clean earth) for bonfires;
• Pour enough water to extinguish a fire. And necessarily make sure that no embers are left in the ash;
• Do not use pyrotechnic products in the taiga;
• Do not drive around in the forest by car or motorcycle. Sparks from the muffler can trigger the ignition of dry plants.
Cutting a fir tree for the New Year is not a good tradition, but a real crime that should result in administrative and criminal responsibility (Article 260 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). Do not destroy a living tree for your entertainment. It is better to buy a small seedling in a pot, dress it up for the holiday, and then plant it in the garden, city park or wild forest in spring. Be sure: you will not only help the nature, but you will also get great pleasure from doing it!
There are many rare and endangered plant species in the forests of the Baikal region. For example, lilies of the valley and snowdrops adored by everyone. Remember: torn flowers will not be beautiful for long. And if you notice deforestation in the wrong place, please inform the Ministry of the Forestry Complex in Irkutsk by the phone: 8 (395) 233-59-81 or in Buryatia by the phone: 8 (301) 241-26-22.
Please do your best to make sure you left no traces of your stay a holiday spent in the forest. This applies not only to garbage but also to trampled glades, torn plants, broken branches. Please respect the Taiga!
Fortunately, various volunteer activities are held on Baikal annually. Everyone can participate in them and make a sufficient contribution to the preservation of national natural wealth. Even a small signature under the petition is able to help the taiga.
Respect and love nature, instill these feelings in your children and friends. Do not forget that everything on the planet is interconnected. And our lives depend even on the smallest trees.
It is not hard to comply with the listed rules. Observe them, and then we will manage to:
• Improve air quality;
• Cope with climate changes;
• Protect soil and water from contamination;
• Increase the wealth of the region’s resources;
• Prevent shallowing and disappearance of water reservoirs;
• Preserve the biological diversity of the Baikal region;
• Create favorable conditions for scientific research.
Forest and water are inseparable from each other in the same way as heaven and earth are. If we preserve the trees, we will save Baikal!
Baikal and its unique ecosystem annually attract scientists and researchers to these places. People come there to familiarize themselves this place and find new solutions that will help to save it. Expeditions to Lake Baikal have become an important part of the Lake’s life. We’ll tell you about the most interesting of them.
The season of “quiet hunt” is in full swing now: forests will make mushroom pickers happy with their treasures from early August until late autumn Siberian.
We’ll tell you an interesting story about the way how the pre-revolutionary Irkutsk became the centre of cycling of Siberia, as well as about the possibilities of the modern unique “extreme sport” of the Baikal roads.
Baikal is rich in diverse localities. Some of them seem to have been taken from other climatic zones. Such zones include the sandy beaches of Enkhaluk. Our reader Pavel made a trip through Eastern Baikal and shared his route and advice with us.