The idea of creating national parks, special protected places where any economic activity is completely prohibited, belongs to American scientist George Catlin. He voiced this idea back in 1832, but in Russia the national parks began to form more than a hundred years later, in the 1970s.
Today, on the shores of Lake Baikal, there are 3 reserves and 2 national parks, which are open all year round for visitors and hold all the secrets of this ancient land.
Pribaikalskiy National Park is the "longest" of all national parks in Russia. Its territory, in the form of a narrow band, covers a large part (about 470 km) of the west coast of Lake Baikal - from Kultuk village in the south to Kocherikovsky Cape in the north, and includes the largest island of Baikal - Olkhon. The nature and landscapes of the reserve are diverse: lakes, rivers, mountain ranges and cliffs, as well as the most beautiful bay on Lake Baikal, the "tourist Mecca" known as Peschanaya Bay, and the warm bays of the Small Sea. Of particular interest are the relict steppes - the remains of steppe-tundra of the Late Cenozoic with its surviving biological species of previous eras. Such large arrays can only be found in the Pribaikalskiy National Park. The flora of the park has more than 1000 species of plants, 250 species of lichens and 200 mosses.
Another national park of Baikal was founded in 1986. The territory of the Trans-Baikal National Park covers Chivyrkuisky Bay, the Svyatoy Nos peninsula, and the Ushkany islands with the largest seal rookery of Baikal. The park has five hiking trails, including the most popular path up the Markovo hill, the highest mountain peak of the Svyatoy Nos peninsula, boasting the panoramic view of the Ushkany Islands, the northern part of Chivyrkuisky Bay, and the sandy beaches of Barguzinsky Bay. Another local landmark are the three mineral springs: Zmeiniy, Kulinie bogs, and Nechaevsky.
On the east coast in the southern part of the lake is the Baikal Nature Reserve which covers 166 thousand hectares of the Khamar Daban mountain range. The hills of Khamar-Daban steeply drop off to Lake Baikal, serving as the natural barrier for air streams carried through Baikal, which is why this place sees a huge amount of rainfall. Due to wet climate, a special flora formed here, so the local vegetation is truly unique. The reserve is also home to 37 species of mammals and 260 species of birds, many of which are protected due to their endangered status. Baikal Nature Reserve is the only reserve on the shores of Lake Baikal that has no direct access to the lake shore.
Barguzinsky Biosphere Reserve, the oldest Russian reserve, was established in 1916 and became the first hunting reserve of the country. Its purpose was to preserve and study the sable. Today, it is the oldest nature reserve of Russia. The protected area is incorporated into the UNESCO World Heritage site. It is noteworthy that there are more bears here than anywhere else around the lake, as well as a large population of the Barguzinsky Sable.
Baikal-Lensky State Reserve was founded in 1986 and is located on the northwestern shore of Lake Baikal. It is the largest conservation area on Baikal and you can get here only by water: over the ice in winter and on a boat in summer. You can often find the symbol of the lake - Baikal seal – near the reserve. In addition to the seal, 52 other species of mammals live here, and more than 230 species of birds. Another particularly valuable natural site is the "Shore of Brown Bears ", which is situated between the Pokoiniki and Elokhin capes, where you can often encounter the lord of the Siberian taiga.
A lot has been said and written about Baikal water. Its purity is admired by the scientists around the world. And the bravest of them are even ready to deduct a formula that will prove that Baikal water can be considered a reference standard.
Baikal and its almost entire coast constitute a specially protected natural area, one of the types of such areas is a game reserve. A game reserve is a territory of special importance for the preservation or restoration of natural complexes or their components and for keeping the ecological balance. This areas serve to protect certain species of flora, fauna, natural objects...
The problem of the increasing count of ringed seals on Lake Baikal has been a so-called problem until recently. After the commercial catch of the Baikal seal was banned, its count began to grow, making everyone happy: tourists, scientists, ecologists...
The struggle for the preservation the population of the Baikal omul continues with varying success and unclear results. “Key to Baikal” found it out whether a fundamental decision has been made on this issue and whether it is really worthwhile to introduce restrictions on catching the most popular Baikal fish.