Carpathian Biosphere Reserve

Carpathian Biosphere Reserve (Karpatskyi biosfernyi zapovidnyk, or CBR). One of the protected areas established in 1992 out of the former Carpathian Nature Reserve with the aim of preserving the unique mountain landscapes, fauna, and flora of the Carpathian Mountains. Covering an area of 53,630 ha, the CBR consists of six separate complexes—the Chornohora, Svydivets, Maramureş, Kuzii, Uhlia-Shyrokyi Luh, and Narcissus Valley massifs—and two botanical reserves, Chorna Hora and Yulivska Hora. Since 1992 the CBR has been part of UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves. In 1998 it became the first Ukrainian protected area to receive the Council of Europe’s European Diploma of Protected Areas.

All of the CBR’s protected complexes are located at altitudes from 180 to 2,061 m within the central and eastern Ukrainian Carpathians of Transcarpathia oblast. Their diverse environments include nearly all landscape formations and biological ecosystems found in the region: foothill oak groves, mountain beech, mixed and spruce forests, pine-alder-alpine krummholz, subalpine and alpine meadows, and upland rocky-lichen landscapes. Almost ninety percent of the CBR’s combined area is covered by forests. More than 1,000 vascular plant, 64 mammal, 173 bird, 9 reptile, 13 amphibian, 23 fish, and more than 10,000 invertebrate species are protected there. Among them there are 64 plant and 72 animal species found in the UN Red List of endangered species.

The 16,375 ha Chornohora Massif is located on the southern slopes of the Chornohora mountain range at altitudes of 700 to 2,061 m (Mt. Hoverlia, Ukraine’s highest peak). Seven mountains with elevations more than 2,000 m are located there. The massif is covered mainly with fir, spruce, and mixed beech and spruce forests and subalpine and alpine meadows. The local flora includes several rare species, such as the Pulmonaria filarszkyana lungwort, alpine rose, and golden root. Protected birds and animals include the goldcrest, ring ouzel, lynx, and brown bear. A number of endemic invertebrate species, such as the Carabus transsylvanicus and Duvalius ruthenus, can be found only in this massif.

The 6,580 ha Svydivets Massif is located in the highest part of the Svydivets mountain range, at altitudes of 600 to 1,883 m. Its highest peaks are Velyka Blyznytsia (1,883 m) and Mala Blyznytsia (1,880 m). The local climate is optimal for the growth of pure beech stands and mixed beech-maple, beech-ash-maple, and beech-spruce forests, which are found there at higher altitudes than anywhere else in the Ukrainian Carpathians. Elfin woodlands and subalpine and alpine meadows are situated above the forest-zone level. Rare arctic and alpine plant species, , such as the alpine aster, edelweiss, and narrow-leafed narcissus, grow at high altitudes and represent a particularly interesting feature of the massif.

The 8,990 ha Maramureş Massif lies within the Maramureş-Bukovynian Upland on the northern slopes of the mountain range that extends along Ukraine’s border with Romania. Altitudes there vary from 750 m. to the 1,940 m Mt. Pip Ivan). The area’s climate and geological structure determine several of the local flora’s characteristic features. Pure fir forests grow there at altitudes of 1,600 to 1,700 m, higher than anywhere else in the Ukrainian Carpathians. Alpine and subalpine meadows form combined systems with krummholz. Rare plants such as the white marguerite, great yellow gentian, and the Deyl’s bluegrass may be found in the alpine zone. The local fauna is similar to that of the Chornohora Massif, but some animal species endemic to rocky mountain environments, such as the snow vole and the alpine accentor, are better represented here. The massif is the only part of the CBR where the peregrine falcon is found.

The 4,925 ha. Kuzii Massif is located in the southern sub-range of the Svydivets mountains at altitudes of 350 to 1,409 m. The massif’s characteristic features are determined by its particular climatic conditions and vegetation. Tree species, such as the English oak and sessile oak, grow here at altitudes up to 1,100 m, their highest elevation in the Ukrainian Carpathians. The massif’s core area is covered with pure and mixed beech forests. Yew groves are also found on limestone rocks under the cover of maple-beech forests. Local fauna includes the spotted salamander, Carpathian newt, Aesculapian snake, and such rare bat species as Bechstein’s bat, the Barbastelle, and the greater horseshoe.

The 15,580 ha Uhlia-Shyrokyi Luh Massif is located on the southern slopes of the Krasna ridge and its offspur, Mt. Menchul, at altitudes of 400 to 1,280 m. Large limestone blocks and karst formations are a typical feature of the massif, which also includes the largest cave in the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains. The massif is famous as the location of the largest expanse of ancient virgin beech forests in Europe. Rare yew and Savin juniper groves are also found there. The massif’s limestone ridge is characterized by rich flora, including a number of rare plants such as the Carpathian harebell, cortusan primrose, and Spanish stonecrop. Rare species of fauna found in the massif include the otter, stoat, huchen, black stork, and eight rare bat species, including the greater horseshoe, lesser horseshoe, Schreiber’s bat, and Geoffroy’s bat. A number of unique endemic invertebrates, in particular Duvalius transcarpathicus, are found in the Uholka karst caves.

The 257 ha Narcissus Valley Massif is located in the eastern part of the Maramureş Basin near Khust, on floodplains along the ancient terrace of the Tysa River at altitudes of 180 to 200 m. The massif is a unique botanical ecosystem and Europe’s largest protected area, designed to preserve the massive growth of the narrow-leaved narcissus, which has survived since the post-glacial period. More than 400 plant species are preserved there, including the rare spurred fragrant orchid, Siberian iris, and white cinquefoil. The fauna differs greatly from that of the CBR’s other massifs: typical of the Transcarpathian Lowland, it includes birds such as the whinchat, concrake, and sedge wrabler, and various amphibian, fish, and rodent species.

Stoiko, S., et al (eds). Zapovidni ekosystemy Karpat (Lviv 1991)
Bioriznomanittia Karpatskoho biosfernoho zapovidnyka (Kyiv 1997)
Krichfalushi, V. ‘Zapovidni terytoriï Ukraïns'kykh Karpat,’ in Pryroda Karpats'koho rehionu Ukraïny, ed H. Karpova et al (Kyiv 1999)

Volodymyr Kricsfalusy

[This article was written in 2008. Detailed information about the CBR may be found at its Web site, <>.]

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