On the territory of the Kurgalsky Nature Reserve, researchers from the University have found the greatest diversity of species of nesting birds in the Leningrad Region. As the participants of the round table in TASS said, a significant part of them are included in the Red Data Book, for instance, the Baltic dunlin, white-tailed eagle, and jacksnipe to name just a few.

Sergei Kouzov, Senior Research Associate in the Department of Applied Ecology, noted the unique ornithological status of the Reserve for the Leningrad Region. A total of 81 species of local avifauna are included in the Red Data Books of various levels. According to this indicator, the Kurgalsky Reserve is the area with the maximum biological diversity in the Leningrad Region.

‘To date, 216 bird species have been found, with 166 of them seen during the nesting period and 165 during the migration period. This is the maximum indicator of diversity in the Leningrad Region. This can be explained by the unique location of the nature reserve on the border of climatic zones, which contributes to the combination of the so-called northern and southern bird species,’ explained Sergei Kouzov.

According to Anton Popov, Director of the Centre of Expert Advice at the University, the Reserve is home to 750 species of higher plants, many of which are classified as endangered. ‘Our main goal is to contribute to the preservation of this natural wealth,’ said Anton Popov.

This area is unique in terms of biological and biotopic diversity, which can be considered one of the visiting cards of the region. Its condition strongly influences the image of the entire Northwestern Federal District.

Professor Evgeny Abakumov, Head of the Department of Applied Ecology, St Petersburg University

‘In addition, the preservation of the reserve is important for educational and scientific competencies. The loss of even a part of biodiversity will be irreplaceable for the academic process and research activities,’ said Professor Evgeny Abakumov, Head of the Department of Applied Ecology, St Petersburg University.

Larisa Kliukanova, Senior Research Associate in the Department of Legal Protection of Environment, spoke about: the legal regulation of specially protected natural areas; and the norms that are aimed at preserving these natural objects. According to the experts, one of the main factors that negatively affects the natural diversity of the Kurgalsky Reserve is unregulated tourism along with the general tendency of the population to hold picnics in specially protected natural areas.

The Kurgalsky Nature Reserve is a specially protected natural area of the Leningrad Region. The reserve is located in the Kingiseppsky District and includes the Kurgalsky Peninsula, the adjacent water area of the Gulf of Finland with the islands of the Kurgalsky and Tiskolsky reefs and others.

‘About 30% of the above-ground part of the reserve is regularly exposed to recreational influences from people coming to rest. This is the only strong anthropogenic impact to which biological species of the protected area are exposed. This significantly worsens the state of natural areas,’ commented Nataliia Zigern-Korn, Head of the Department of Country Studies and International Tourism.

Experts from the Centre for Sociological and Internet Research of St Petersburg University also take part in the comprehensive study of the Kurgalsky Reserve. This approach makes it possible not only to assess the state of the Kurgalsky reserve from the point of view of biology and ecology, but also to develop measures for the protection of the territory, taking into account sociological data. ‘Our research shows that residents of the settlements closest to the reserve are aware of the anthropogenic nature of the impact on the territory and are ready to assist in the development of measures to manage the reserve and preserve its biological diversity,’ said Anastasiia Aleksandrova, Deputy Director of the Centre for Sociological and Internet Research.