|Muraviovka Park for Sustainable Land Use
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| Muraviovka Park for Sustainable Land Use is located in Far-Eastern Russia. It is roughly an hours drive to the southeast of one of the few large cities in the Far-East, Blagoveshchensk. It is situated near the bank of the Amur River (see map below), which separates Russia from China. Ecologically, it lies in the Zea-Burea plain, an area that is defined as a large, low elevation area that lies between the Amur River to the south, the Zea River (a tributary of the Amur River) to the west, and the Burea River (another tributary of the Amur River) to the east. Historically, the Amur River actually flowed through Muraviovka Park, but as the river shifted course, it left behind a network of old channels, small lakes, and flooded grasslands. This wetland complex is a prime breeding location for Red-crowned cranes (Grus japonensis), White-naped cranes (Grus vipio), and Oriental White storks (Ciconia boyciana) as well as a crucial migratory stopover for Siberian cranes (Grus leucogeranus), Hooded cranes (Grus monacha), and multitudes of waterfowl. On the uplands that punctuate the Park, there are forest patches dominated by Mongolian Oak. In total, over 500 plant, 200 bird, 20 mammal, and 4 amphibian species call Muraviovka Park home.
These wetlands were constantly being replenished with the natural flood cycles of the rivers.. Recently (since the mid 1970's), both the Zea and Burea Rivers have been dammed and natural flood cycles have been controlled. This has caused dramatic changes to the wetlands of the Zea-Burea floodplain, Muraviovka Park included. The Zea-Burea floodplain is also an important agricultural center in Far-Eastern Russia. As a consequence, much of the wetlands have been reclaimed for this activity and the remaining wetlands have been polluted by agricultural runoff.
Several rural communities surround the park, which consist mainly of farmers. The locals live in modest wood houses that are heated by coal and wood stoves. Water comes from wells and in most cases there is no indoor plumbing. People use outhouses and bathe in the traditional manner called "banya". Banya takes place in a separate building where a stove heats water and a sauna like atmosphere is created for bathing. Facilities in the park mirror those found in these local communites -but slowly we are "updating" many facilities.
The Park is extremely seasonal. For much of the year (October-April) it is bitterly cold. In the coldest months it can regularly stay below - 40 degrees Fahrenheit. During these cold months, it rarely snows and it is very sunny. Spring and Fall occur abruptly and do not last long. Summer (June-September) is usually hot (90 F) and humid. Migratory birds and hibernating species begin showing themselves in late March/early April and disappear again by October. During June and July, the Park explodes in color with blooming wildflowers including lilies, orchids, and Iris's. Thousands of hooded cranes (potentially 25% of the world's population) pass through the Park during the month of September.
Given the importance of this location to many crane species, the Park has recieved a lot of international interest and support. In particular, it works closely with the non-profit organization - The International Crane Foundation. If you are interested in reading more about the Park, please visit its website: www.muraviovkapark.ru or read about it on ICF's page.
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