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Established: 1994
Size: 36,922 ha (369 km2)
Buffer Zone: 4,844 ha (48 km2)

Contact information:
Krolikov, Vladimir Vasilievich, Director
Russia 175270, Novgorodskaya Oblast, Kholm, ul. Chelpanova, 27

Tel: (816-54) 5-14-08
Email: rdeysky@mail.ru

© 2000 Igor Shpilenok

Rdeisky Zapovednik was created together with Polistovsky Zapovednik to preserve unique wetland ecosystems in the enormous Polistovo-Lovatskoye Swamp, the largest sphagnum swamp in northwestern Russia, located in the Novgorod, Pskov, and Tver regions. The vast and virtually impassable wetland ecosystem, made up of 15 connected bogs, marshes, and swamps separated by low ridges and lakes, acts as a giant filter for the source waters of numerous lakes and streams. The swamp and adjacent coniferous and broadleaf forests provide important nesting areas for a number of birds such as black stork, gray heron, and capercaille. The largest nesting population of Eurasian curlews in Europe is protected in the reserve. Open marshes of peat moss, sedge and sphagnum swamps, and bog pine forests with clumps of cotton grass are just a few of the plant communities preserved in the Rdeisky Nature Reserve, declared a Wetland of International Importance in 1998.

Zapovednik Images
Zapovednik Facts

Images of Rdeisky Zapovednik
Click on each photo to see a large version.

© 2001 Igor Shpilenok

Large lakes are fed by waters from the
Polistovo-Lovatskoye Swamp.

© 2001
Igor Shpilenok

The European viper is the only poisonous snake in
the zapovednik.

© 2001
Igor Shpilenok

Cottongrass flowers on sphagnum swamp among

© 2001
Igor Shpilenok

The Eurasian curlew nests in large numbers in the
Polistovo-Lovatskoye Swamp.

© 2001 Igor Shpilenok

This baby moose's long legs help it traverse
boggy mires with ease.


© 2001 Igor Shpilenok

Drier patches in the reserve are covered with
mosses and dwarf pine trees.

© 2001 Igor Shpilenok

Old growth forests are surrounded by impassable

© 2001 Igor Shpilenok

Cowberry flowers in summer before yielding tangy red berries.

Zapovednik Facts:

The remoteness and inaccessibility of the Polistovo-Lovatskoye Swamp, more than a quarter of which is protected in Rdeisky Zapovednik, has provided refuge and breeding grounds for a number of game animals and birds that were nearly hunted to oblivion on surrounding territories. Moose (Alces alces) can be seen trudging through the swampy mire on their long legs, while badgers (Meles meles) burrow dens on dry ridges and plateaus. Alpine hares (Lepus timidus) can be seen feeding on marsh grasses, keeping a wary out for the European mink (Mustela lutreola), granted specially protected status in the zapovednik. Capercaille (Tetrao urogallus) and northern hazelhen (Tetrastes bonasia) gather in early spring in leks to mate in forest stands on the edge of the swamp.

Rdeisky Zapovednik plays a special role in protecting bird nesting areas. Its remote wetland habitats and multitude of large and small lakes provide ideal nesting and resting areas for thousands of birds each year. The Polistovo-Lovatskoye Swamp is home to the largest population of Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata) in Europe. These rather large and extremely wary birds nest in grassy and mossy areas of lowland lakes. They feed on insects and sometimes berries and fish. In all, 11 species of waders nest in rather large populations in the reserve.

A number of rare birds, which have disappeared for the most part in other areas of the region, nest in the midst of impassable swamps. These birds include black-throated loon (Gavia stellata), black stork (Ciconia nigra), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), great gray shrike (Lanius excubitor), willow ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus), greater spotted eagle (Aquila clanga), among others. Other birds that require special conservation measures include the greater golden plover (Pluvialis apricaria), lesser spotted eagle (Aquila pomarina), grey heron (Ardea cinerea), white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), osprey (Pandion haliaetus), and northern eagle owl (Bubo bubo).



Rdeisky Zapovednik protects a quarter of the largest sphagnum swamp (bog) in northwestern Russia, covering 140,000 ha (1,400 km2). The reserve is adjacent to the Polistovsky Zapovednik, which protects similar areas to the northeast. Together, the two reserves protect nearly half of the enormous sphagnum swamp ecosystem. Mostly flat, except for ridges and low plateaus alternating with marshy depressions and lakes, the enormous wetland was once the bottom of a lake in the post-glacial period. Ridges are no more than 4-10 meters high and run from 25 to 200 meters wide. Plant communities in marsh areas are dominated by sphagnum (peat) moss vegetation, swamp thickets, and sedge grasses. Several species of peat moss (Sphagnum palustre, S. lindbergii, S. tenellum) have specially protected status in the reserve. Cranberries (Vaccinium oxycoccus) grow on raised mounds in the swamp, while cowberries (V. vitis-idaea) and bilberries (V. myrtillus) prefer slightly drier ground under the shade of pine trees. English and round-leaved sundew (Drosera anglica, D. rotundifolia) and mountain raspberry (Rubus chamaemorus) are also common species.

Ridges and swamp edges are flanked with coniferous and broadleaf forests. Here, the orange trunks of Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) tower skyward. Norway spruces (Picea excelsa) find room among the pines. Birches (Betula spp.) fill gaps where disturbances have occurred. Black alders (Alnus glutinosa), not afraid to get their feet wet, cling to hummocks in the swampy mire.

Other interesting plant species preserved in the zapovednik are double buttercup (Trollius europaues), hepatica (Hepatica nobilis), and remote sedge (Carex remota). A number of species from the orchid family, which thrive near peat bogs and wood edges, are found in the reserve. Among those relatively common but protected in the Novgorod Region are meadow orchid (Dactylorhiza incarnata), moorland spotted orchid (D. maculata), common spotted orchid (D. fuchsii), fragrant orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea), greater and lesser butterfly orchids (Platanthera chlorantha, P. bifolia), and common twayblade (Listera ovata). Baltic marsh orchid (D. baltica) and bird's nest orchid (Neottia nidus-avis), found in the reserve, are rare throughout Russia.

Mineral islands within the vast swamp are perhaps some of the most intact plant communities in northwestern Russia. Thanks to their inaccessibility, these relics of virgin vegetation have been spared human pressures and are of great importance for botanical research. Some of the islands are of rather large proportions and even have their own unique plant and animal communities. Some scientists claim that remnant oak forests still remain on some of the islands.

Preliminary research in the relatively new reserve has identified 327 species of plants, of these nine are listed in the Russian Red Book. Two dozen species are rare for Novgorod Region.


Geographical Features

Rdeisky Zapovednik is in the western part of Novogorod Oblast on the territory of the Poddorsky and Kholmsky administrative districts. It lies adjacent to the Polistovsky Zapovednik to the northeast. Rdeisky Zapovednik is located on the left bank of the Lovata River, which gets its source from the Polistovo-Lovatskoye Swamp. The average altitude of the swamp is 98-100 meters above sea level.

Surface waters consist of rivers, lakes, and small creeks of various types, whose headwaters come from the swamp. The largest rivers are the Polist and Lovat rivers. The rivers for the most part have low banks and winding channels. There are almost 50 large lakes in the wetlands of the Rdeisky and Polistovsky zapovedniks, and numerous small creeks. The lakes drain the adjacent swamplands.

The climate in the region is continental but fairly humid, characterized by excess moisture, mild summers, warm autumn weather, mild winters, and cool spring temperatures. The average annual level of precipitation is 660 mm, which mostly falls in the summer months. The average annual temperature in the region is 4.9oC.


Conservation Status

Wetland scientists began to study the Polistovo-Lovatskoye Swamp in the beginning of the 20th century. Botanists came to research plant communities much later. In the early 1970s, Mark Kostrov, a historian from Novgorod wrote about the enormous, wild, and impassable swamp on the border of Novgorod, Tver, and Pskov oblasts. Fifteen years later, Alexander Mishenko, a young ornithologist, moved by Kostrov’s writings, traveled to the area to compile the first list of birds in the Polistovo-Lovatskoye Swamp. Mishenko, together with Olga Sukhanova, lobbied the idea of creating a protected area to the local environmental committee. Their proposal was accepted, and in the early 1990s, other ornithologists came to plan the borders of the new protected area. In 1994, two nature reserves were created to preserve the unique wetland ecosystems &emdash; Polistovsky and Rdeisky zapovedniks. Yuri Fedorov, a dedicated activist in the regional environmental committee, played a major role in creation of these reserves.

Due to the impassible nature of the enormous swamp, natural ecosystems were amazingly well preserved even late into the 20th century. One of the only exceptions is the network of drainage canals that was built in the southwest (in Pskov Oblast) and southeast (in Novgorod Oblast) of the swamp. Today, these canals are being actively used by beavers, which are effectively helping to restore hydrological regimes of the wetland ecosystems.

Peat production also impacted part of the swamp ecosystems. Fortunately, peat extraction was brought to a halt in 1994 in the southern part of the Polistovsky Zapovednik, as well as in the northern part of the Rdeisky Zapovednik and on adjacent territories. However, there is a possibility that peat production will resume outside the borders of the reserves. If extraction were to resume, the hydrological regime in the entire Polistovo-Lovatskoye wetland ecosystem would be compromised. Other threats to wetland ecosystems include uncontrolled recreation, especially the use of all-terrain vehicles, as well as illegal fishing and hunting.

Today, the main objectives of the reserve are to protect natural ecosystems of the Polistovo-Lovatskoye Swamp and its associated biodiversity, to monitor natural processes in the ecosystem, to research plant and animal communities, and to build environmental awareness in the region.



Wetlands International. Wetlands in Russia, Volume 2. AEME Publication, Moscow 1999.

Zabelina, N.M, L.S. Isaeva-Petrova, and L.V. Kuleshova. Zapovedniks and National Parks of Russia. Logata. Mosow, 1998.

Text prepared by Laura Williams.


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