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4 Protected areas and biosphere reserves in deciduous forests.

1. The deciduous forests of the world under protected status

1.1 General considerations

A very important part of the deciduous forests and mixed forests dealt with in this volume are found in the richest and most industrialized countries of the world, with a long tradition of forest protection and biological research. Paradoxically, however, during recent years awareness of forests and the environment has centered almost exclusively on the resources of tropical forests and the threats to their flora and fauna, while the protection of deciduous forests and their diversity, equally important and unique, has been neglected and has gone almost unnoticed.

Nevertheless, some of the most threatened species in the world are found in temperate deciduous forests. They constitute a long list of vulnerable species close to extinction or seriously threatened by deforestation. For example, among the endangered mammals--and in the forefront--are large animals such as deer (Cervus elaphus) in Europe and in North America and C. eldi in the Asian Far East, or the feline family including the Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), the wildcat (Felis silvestris), and the lynx (F. [=Lynx] lynx), as well as many species of insectivorous animals and lesser-known rodents. Probably, many other animals and a large number of plants are also endangered, although it is not known to what extent.

The importance of the protection of deciduous forests

Deciduous forests, as do all forests, represent one of the regulating systems of the biosphere, as, for example, the carbon pool. They also have an important environmental function in rough terrain, as they regulate the amount of water that infiltrates the soil, prevent soil erosion, regulate the supply of water to basins, and improve water quality through denitrification. On the other hand, deciduous forests have been of great importance in forestry research and forest management and are the habitat of innumerable plant and animal species. There is also their function as an important source of income to consider, as well as their important role as a cultural and spiritual refuge.

Nevertheless, deciduous forests have been cut to convert them into agricultural land, have been exploited for silviculture, or in one way or another (urban expansion, industrial development, infrastructures) have been profoundly modified. For this reason large portions of the forest areas of North America and Europe have disappeared. In some regions, forests have been replaced by monocultures (single-species crops) of tree plantations that, even if representing a means for the preservation of forest resources, diminish the diversity of the biome. In regions where the surface area of forests decreases rapidly, the few forests remaining are subject to overexploitation and selective elimination of desirable hardwood tree species. Consequently there remain only small fragmented and degraded portions of deciduous forests with poorly developed trees. There is thus a great interest in the protection of the natural forests still standing.

Protection on an international scale

Obviously, most countries have laws and administrative structures designed to protect their natural systems, but in addition there are also many regional and global multilateral agreements, conventions, and programs that aim at protecting specifically forested areas, or that have wider aims which also include forest protection. Among the latter are the program on Man and the Biosphere (MAB) launched in 1971 by UNESCO; the Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (UNESCO 1972); and among the first group are the Forest Principles of the Rio Declaration of 1992, stemming from the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Earth Summit of 1992, which included measures for the protection of threatened forest species.

The scope and implementation of the UNCED agreements are the charge of the Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD). Many of the actions directly related to temperate forests have developed from agreements taken by UNCED and implemented by CSD, including the Helsinki Process and the Montreal Process, which have as objectives the development of different systems of management for conservation of temperate forests in different regions of the world.

1.2 Parks and protected areas

Of the more than 4.25 million sq mi (11 million sq km) occupied by deciduous forests, roughly 139,000 sq mi (360,000 sq km) are within the more than 1,500 protected areas of the biome. This is a relatively small area, representing only 3.5% of the total, even though this is the biome with the greatest number of areas under protected status. This figure is definitely smaller than the 10% figure that is considered adequate for the conservation of natural communities. The large number of protected areas is indicative of the extreme fragmentation of the well-preserved areas in numerous regions of the world, and confirms the importance of maintaining the integrity of these often isolated areas, by means of buffer zones as well as natural and seminatural corridors joining them. The truth is that these figures are underestimated, as they do not include protected areas of less than 2,500 acres (1,000 ha)--except those located in coastal regions and islands of less than 250 acres (100 ha) under total protected status--national forest reserves, or forest stands under private ownership. Some of these zones are left to be developed as natural zones even though they do not enjoy legal protection.

At any rate, even though the number of protected areas in Europe is considerable, the surface area of temperate deciduous forests under protection is relatively small when compared with that of North America, where the Adirondack National Park in the state of New York alone, which is part of the Cham-plain-Adirondack biosphere reserve, has 5,995,246 acres (2,426,200 ha), of which an important portion consists of temperate deciduous forests. In Europe the protected areas are in the Atlantic region, and temperate deciduous forests are poorly represented because there are very few left. This is probably because at the start of the Neolithic period some 5,000 years ago the dominant vegetation in much of the British Isles consisted of different types of forests and most of them contained deciduous trees. Even in 1457, the English Parliament requested landowners to plant trees to compensate for those that had been cut for wood, but by 1700 the forest surface area had diminished drastically. In Ireland, starting in the nineteenth century, many owners planted trees on their lands and towards the middle of the century the remnants of forests remaining were considered more for recreation than as a source of wood. Therefore, this attrition was such that continuous hunting and the introduction of the gun were catastrophic for the fauna.

In Eastern Europe, following decades of catastrophic environmental policies and despite the difficult economic situation, efforts are being made to conserve the natural heritage. In Poland in 1990, for example, the government started a new program of ecological policies that included plans to increase the number and the extension of ecologically protected areas, aiming at constituting a network that would cover 30% of the nation's territory. According to the established plan, by 2010 there should be 25 national parks. Four of the new parks in the lowlands will protect temperate deciduous forests: the beech forest of Szczecin; the national park of Kaszuby, which will include the forests of Tuchola; the NarwiAnski, the Knyszyn, which will include the forest of the same name; and the Mazurski area, which will protect the famous Mazurian Lakes area. Long-term plans have been laid to establish protected landscapes and natural reserves, some of which will serve as strictly protected zones in the already existing national parks.

In every culture in East Asia, despite their diversity, there is a common feature: a great awareness of the need to conserve nature. It is not surprising, then, that these culturally assumed concepts have led to the real protection of wide surface areas of mountains and forests in Korea, as well as in Japan and China. Within these areas are the temperate deciduous forests and mixed forests with conifers that are very abundant in the region. In the Republic of Korea (South Korea), for example, for political and social reasons the development of protected areas began relatively late, and it has been a very slow process. The first national park, Chiri, was founded in 1967 and since then 29 new protected areas have been created. In 1990, there was 954 sq mi (2,470 sq km) of protected forest surface area, i.e. 4% of the 25,216 sq mi (65,310 sq km) of forests in the Republic of Korea, representing 66% of the total area of the country. Moreover, more than 9,000 trees are protected individually for their aesthetic, historic, or religious value.

2. The biosphere reserves of UNESCO in the domain of temperate deciduous forests

2.1 Biosphere reserves in temperate deciduous forests

The first biosphere reserves in the temperate deciduous forest domain were approved in 1976. Of the 14 then approved, eight were in the United Kingdom, four in Poland, one in the United States, and one in the former Yugoslavia. The biosphere reserves of Arasbaran and Arjan in Iran have mountainous areas with altitudinal zones containing portions of the temperate deciduous forest biome.

In 1998, there were 102 biosphere reserves, belonging totally or partially to the temperate deciduous forest biome, i.e. 30% of the total. Three-fourths of these biosphere reserves, i.e. 77, are in Europe in 20 countries: 16 in Bulgaria; nine in the United Kingdom; 10 in Germany (of which one is shared with France); eight in Poland (of which two are shared with Slovakia, one is shared with Slovakia and Ukraine, one with the Czech Republic, and one with Belarus); six in the Czech Republic (including the one shared with Poland); five in Slovakia (including three shared with Poland); three each in Spain, Romania, and the Russian Federation; five in France (of which one is shared with Germany); two each in Belarus (including the one shared with Poland), Italy, and Hungary (one is shared with Poland and Slovakia); and one each in Austria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Greece, Ireland, and the former Yugoslavia. Thirteen are distributed among eight countries in Asia: four in China, two in Iran, two in Japan, one in each of the Koreas, two in the Russian Federation, and one shared between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. There are 12 more in the American continents: seven in the United States, three in Canada, and two in Chile.

The total surface area of these biosphere reserves is over 37 million acres (15 million ha), of which approximately half, almost 16 million acres (6.5 million ha) are in North America and especially in the United States. Some 12 million acres (5 million ha) are in Europe, close to 5 million (2 million ha) in Chile, and more than 2.5 million acres (1 million ha) in East Asia. Not all of this surface area corresponds to the temperate deciduous forest biome, but many correspond to mountainous regions where there are warmer and drier zones at lower altitude, as occurs with all of those located in European Mediter-ranean countries or in Iran. In Chile, most belong in areas of temperate forests, and for this reason they are dealt with in greater detail in volume 6. On the other hand, not all the reserves that fully correspond to the biome include forest systems. Two of the Polish biosphere reserves, for example, that of Lake Luknajno, with 1,754 acres (710 ha), and that of Slowinski, with 44,649 acres (18,069 ha), are dedicated to hay meadows. These protected areas have become a refuge for the survival of many meadow plants that are in danger of extinction, among them the globeflower (Trollius europaeus), the Siberian iris (Iris sibirica), the sweet vernal grass (Hierochloe odorata), the fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris), the marsh gentian (Gentiana pneumonanthe), and many orchids.

2.2 Biosphere reserves in North American temperate deciduous forests

Some of the first biosphere reserves of the American continent were established in 1976 in the United States and among them is the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. Even though the United States left UNESCO in 1984, the MAB program continues its activities in that country, coordinated by a national committee with representatives of different administrations, universities, and the private sector. It has continued, moreover, to submit new reserves to the international secretariat of the program for approval. Seven of the 47 biosphere reserves in the United States (Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, Isle Royale National Park, Big Thicket National Reserve, the Southern Appalachian, the Champlain-Adirondack, the Mammoth Cave area, and the Land Between the Lakes, the latter four approved after 1984) are found in the deciduous forest biome, totaling 15,155,894 acres (6,133,398 ha), more than those of the European countries put together. More than two-thirds of this area correspond to the biosphere reserve of the Southern Appalachian, one of the more efficient and better managed in the United States. At present there are six biosphere reserves in Canada, three in the deciduous forest biome: Mont St. Hilaire, in the province of Quebec (1978), one in Long Point (1986) and one in the Niagara escarpment, both in Ontario (1990). All three cover a surface area of 592,532 acres (239,790 ha), of which more than 85% corresponds to the Niagara escarpment.

The Biosphere Reserve of the Southern Appalachians

The Biosphere Reserve of the Southern Appalachians is in fact a group of reserves or protected areas surrounded by a broad periphery. Together they constitute one of the largest ensembles of publicly managed contiguous spaces in the country. It has a total surface area of 15,855,563 acres (6,416,545 ha) and lies approximately between 35[degrees] and 36[degrees] North and 83[degrees] and 84[degrees] West in the upper Tennessee Valley, straddling the states of North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, although the nearest city is Atlanta, the capital of the state of Georgia. The reserve has portions of the range and the valley of the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains, the High Cumberland Plateau, and the Upper Piedmont Range. It also includes the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Coweeta Hydrological Laboratory, which had already been declared biosphere reserves in 1976, as well as the Oak Ridge Laboratory National Park, declared in 1988. Two additional sites in North Carolina were added in 1992: the Mount Mitchell State Park, which is also a national site of natural interest, and Grandfather Mountain, an exclusive natural reserve.

The Coweeta Hydrological Laboratory has a surface area of 5,333 acres (2,158 ha) and is found on the southern end of the Appalachians, 14 mi (22 km) south of the town in Franklin in North Carolina. Its core area is formed by the Coweeta and Dryman Fork basins and is surrounded by a buffer zone administered by the Forest Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.

The Oak Ridge Laboratory of Environmental Research National Park has been, since 1980, one of the seven parks of the U.S. Department of Energy network. It occupies a surface area of 21,498 acres (8,700 ha) out of a total of 34,595 acres (14,000 ha) of the reserve of the same name. It is used for research, environmental education, and demonstration activities aimed at reconciling the development of energy technologies with environmental quality. It has a discontinuous core area made of specially protected terrestrial and aquatic areas, covering 8,130 acres (3,290 ha), and a buffer zone of 13,368 acres (5,410 ha). The Mount Mitchell State Park conserves a dividing mountain range, adjacent to the South Toe district of the Pisgah National Forest, where the highest peak in the United States east of the Mississippi is found. It consists of a core area of 1,211 acres (490 ha) and a buffer zone of only 12 acres (5 ha). However, the adjacent natural forest is an additional buffer zone.

Finally, Grandfather Mountain is found in the northwest sector of North Carolina. The nearest city is Boone. It has a core area of 3,089 acres (1,250 ha) and a buffer zone of 1,952 acres (790 ha). Besides this, there is also a transition zone, not explicitly delimited, of some 15.3 million acres (6.2 million ha), in the Upper Tennessee Valley.

Characteristics and natural features

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. With a surface area of 516,448 acres (209,000 ha), it is the largest protected area of the Southern Appalachian Biosphere Reserve. The park was established in 1926 and 50-odd years later, in June 1979, it became a biosphere reserve; since 1988 it has been part of the Southern Appalachian Biosphere Reserve. UNESCO had already declared it a World Heritage Site by 1983. It is surrounded by several national forests (Pisgah, Cherokee, and Nantahala), the Cherokee Reservation of Qualla, the Lake Fontana portion of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and numerous private lands. The city of Gatlinburg (Tennessee) is located on the northern entrance to this park and on the southern entrance is the Cherokee Park (North Carolina).

The Appalachians are a very extensive mountain chain, 400 million years old, that stretches from Quebec to the north of Georgia. The geological characteristics of the mountains are very complex and the rocks that constitute them are classified into three large groups: metamorphic, sedimentary pre-Cambrian, and sedimentary Paleozoic. The metamorphic rocks, which formed a complex basal system in the pre-Cambrian period more than one billion years ago, have a great variety of gneiss and schist. The pre-Cambrian sediments (schist, slate, and phyllite) correspond to what is called the Ocoee series of the end of the pre-Cambrian, between 600 million to one billion years ago. The Paleozoic sediments (calcite, dolomites, and quartzites) are between 300 and 600 million years old and were deposited in the Appalachian Valley.

The dominant topographic feature of the park is the Great Smoky Mountain Range, with 16 peaks over 5,900 ft (1,800 m), making it the highest region in the eastern United States. Some lower chains branch out from its major axis, forming buttresses. Almost all topographic characteristics of the park form what is called the Appalachian Relief, a succession of more or less parallel alignments, sharp crests, and abrupt basins separated by deep V-shaped valleys. Very steep slopes are common along the basins of the higher crests. All of these alignments branch out and become subdivided, resulting in a hydrographic network with an ensemble of major basins in each, from which numerous rapid mountain streams flow. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park includes 45 of these major basins and more than 3,500 streams in its area, in which the water table is very near the surface. As part of the Southern Appalachian Biosphere Reserve, this park provides unique habitats and protection for water resources upon which local populations depend.

The Great Smoky Mountains have undergone three important erosive cycles since the Cretaceous period. At present most of these peaks are round and the slopes are covered with soil and vegetation. However, the very resistant subsoil rocks have a relatively rough relief. Most rocks on the surface of the park are quartzite and slate, although there are spots of calcite and dolomite in some valleys in the northwestern sector.

The distribution of the different types of soil in the park is determined by the topography and the continuing activity of erosive agents. The valley bottoms have well-drained soils that are slightly acid and very fertile (ultisols). In Cades Cove, for example, soil fertility is the result of the erosion of the calcites in the deeper part of the valley, which erode easily in this region of abundant rains due to their solubility. The soils on the upper parts are rocky, less productive, more acid, and less subject to erosion (entisols). The parent materials of these soils are mainly noncalcareous schist, quartzite, and sandstone. Instead, compared to acid soils in the greater portion of the Blue Ridge range, the calcareous materials of Grandfather Mountain result in soils with a high pH that are richer in mineral nutrients such as magnesium.

The irregular relief and topographic variability of the Southern Appalachians produce a great diversity of local microclimates. The air masses from the Atlantic entering the continent cool down as they climb the mountain peak and release a great amount of water, making it the region with the highest rainfall in the eastern United States. The typical rainfall pattern has two peaks, one in winter or at the beginning of spring and the other at the end of the summer. Although the annual mean is 64 in (1,625 mm), it is not uncommon to find a difference of more than 24 in (600 mm) between the high altitude areas and the valleys. Snow is almost negligible under 3,281 ft (1,000 m), but above this altitude, the accumulated layers of snow can reach 4-5 ft (1.2-1.5 m). On the highest peaks, as for example Mount Mitchell, with 72 in (1,838 mm) of rain at an altitude of 6,234 ft (1,900 m), it snows all year long.

In this region summers are generally moist and winters relatively mild. The mean temperature of the warmest month is 89[degrees]F (31.5[degrees]C) and the lowest during the coldest month is 38[degrees]F (3.5[degrees]C). In normal conditions the adiabatic (heat-gain or heat-loss) interval is 11.8[degrees]F per mile (4.07[degrees]C/km), which means that air temperature during the growing season at high altitudes is 9-14[degrees]F (5-8[degrees]C) lower than in the deep valleys.

The Great Smoky Mountains region was a refuge of the Pleistocene epoch and as such has a good example of artotertiary flora and many plants of the temperate zones. This area, in which the flora has been very well studied, has some 1,400 species of herbaceous flowering plants and more than 2,200 species of other plants, among them 130 trees, and all of them combine into different plant communities. There is a predominance of broad-leaved deciduous forests and conifers with small clearings with grasses and heather, extensive moist prairies, and shingly grounds. Vegetation varies depending on the altitude, the slope, and soil moisture. In mixed forests are found pines (Pinus), oaks (Quercus), tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipifera), maples (Acer), white limes or lindens (Tilia heterophylla), hickories (Carya), birches (Betula), flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida), mountain laurels (Kalmia latifolia), eastern hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis), and rhododendrons (Rhododendron maximum). On the valley bottoms there are several types of willows (Salix), American sycamores (Platanus occidentalis), and box elder maples (Acer negundo). On dry slopes the red juniper or eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and the pine (Pinus) grow in dispersed patterns and the herbaceous community includes Ranunculaceae such as Delphinium exaltatum, Poaceae of the genus Andropogon, Asteraceae of the genera Liatris, Solidago, Echinacea, Aster, and Rudbeckia, Linaceae of the genus Linum, and Agavaceae of the genus Agave. Heaths are the most extreme xeric (dry or desertlike) communities at high altitude, with a predominance of broad-leaved perennial shrubby Ericaceae such as the lesser rhododendron (Rhododendron minus), the purple or Catawba rhododendron (R. catawbiense), the mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), and the Appalachian myrtle (Leiophyllum buxifolium).

Mature deciduous forests cover only 10% of the entire area of the Southern Appalachian Biosphere Reserve. The forest exploitation and fires of the beginning of the twentieth century almost entirely destroyed the temperate deciduous forest ecosystem. The winds that periodically blow in the forest have reduced even further the forest cover around the clear-cut areas and along highways. Some 124,000 acres (50,000 ha) of really old deciduous forest still remain in the Southern Appalachian region. Most of these (74%) are within the limits of the Great Smoky National Park and, although they cover a relatively small area, are important features of the landscape.

Among the existing mammal species in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are the raccoon (Procyon lotor), the American marmot (Marmota monax), the golden mouse (Ochrotomys nuttalli), and the white-tailed deer, also called Virginia deer (Odocoileus virginianus). But the best-known mammal is the American black bear (Ursus americanus). During the 1970s and 1980s, researchers at the University of Tennessee controlled the population of black bears by means of smell identification transections, to evaluate changes in the occurrence and distribution of this large carnivore.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has over 200 species of birds, of which 60 are sedentary (nonmigratory). Among them are the American robin (Turdus migratorius), the cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), the song sparrow (Melospiza melodia), and the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo). The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) nested in the park for a while, but it is now rare because its population, as that of all birds, has undergone an overall attrition due to pesticide poisoning. The red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) is also present in the park, but its population is very dispersed and difficult to observe.

Even though the figures on most invertebrate groups are imprecise, it is known that there are earthworms and snails among the terrestrial species. The intense rainfall and numerous creeks in this region explain the existence of many amphibians, among them 27 species of salamanders, the most noteworthy of which is the red-tipped Appalachian salamander (Plethodon jordani), believed to be endemic in the park. Among reptiles there are seven species of turtles, eight of lizards, and 23 of snakes. Some 2,660 species of insects have also been recorded in the Great Smoky Mountains, as for example beetles (Carabids) and Dipterae. Among the threatened species are the endemic Poaceae Glyceria nubigena, considered to be the manna of the Great Smoky Mountains; Cain's reed grass (Calamagrostis cainii); the Rosaceae Geum radiatum and G. geniculatum; the Asteraceae Liatris helleri, Solidago spithamanea, and Arnoglossum [=Cacalia] rugelia, also endemic; the Crassulaceae Sedum rosea; the Scrofulariaceae Aureolaria patula; the Ranunculaceae Cimifuga ribifolia; the Liliaceae Streptopus amplexifolius; and the Saxifragaceae Saxifraga careyana.

In Grandfather Mountain, there are more than 40 threatened plant species on a regional level, and more than 120 endangered or threatened rare plants in the states of North Carolina and Tennessee. The American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is a widely distributed plant in the region, of great economic importance for the local population, but cannot be collected without a license.

During the last hundred years, colonization and hunting have greatly impacted the fauna. Although the list of mammals in the park includes 66 species, six are considered extinct and among them is the puma (Felis concolor), since in 1975 it was estimated that only three to six remained in the area. In 1943, the American beaver (Castor canadensis) also disappeared from the national park. In 1968, however, individuals from populations of nearby counties returned to the park to Abrams Creek and Eagle Creek, and it appears that their numbers are steadily increasing. The beaver feeds on approximately 20 types of trees and bushes in the reserve, especially the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida). The Canadian otter (Lutra canadensis) was also first eliminated and then reintroduced, and a reintroduction program with the same purpose was started for the red wolf (Canis rufus).

Cultural heritage

Some of the first inhabitants of North America lived in the Great Smoky Mountains. Evidence from archaeological digs confirms the theory that these prehistoric peoples were hunters and gatherers and that 15,000 years ago they lived as small nomadic groups and hunted in the mountains. During the cultural archaic period (7000-1000 b.c.), large groups of forest dwellers hunted and gathered in this area, although they left relatively little evidence.

Later, the Cherokee Indians established settlements on the mountainsides but continued to hunt in the mountains. Kituwha, their first settlement, was exactly within the limits of the present-day park, near Bryson City in North Carolina. From 1700, colonists established their first settlements in the Great Smoky Mountains and at the beginning of the nineteenth century they already occupied a large part of the territory of the Indians, who became both their allies and enemies. From 1835 to 1838, the lands of the Cherokee in Alabama, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia were confiscated (see also page 195).

Cades Cove, in the part of the reserve belonging to the state of Tennessee, has special interest from both a geological and a human point of view. A series of uncommon geological events created a flat and wide valley surrounded by mountains with fertile soils suitable for cultivation. The first European colonists that settled in this and other remote areas in the Great Smoky Mountain built their farms, cultivated the land, and developed a self-reliant lifestyle. In the 1920s the major activity of the region was forestry to obtain wood for furniture-making.

The disturbing effects of human activities, such as tree cutting, the building of railways, and accidental fires, degraded more than 80% of the area. Before the creation of the park in the 1930s, 60% of the original forest of the Great Smoky Mountains had already been exploited.

In those days, small communities and isolated farms occupied the Great Smoky Mountains. Upon the establishment of the park in the 1930s, the National Park Service bought more than 6,600 lots from the residents, who were then transferred to sites outside park limits. At present, more than 70% of the properties around the park, both in the transition and buffer zones, are private and belong to full-time residents or to persons who have a second residence there.

The presence of European history and culture in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park consists primarily in the reconstruction of buildings of the period from the mid-nineteenth century to the decade of the 1920s, especially wooden houses and barns. In the National Register of Historical Places in the United States, five historical districts are registered, with 77 buildings of historic value within park limits. Research and experimentation Independent research studies have been carried out in two different areas of the forest that show different degrees of the desertion by bird populations in a 10-year period. The results of these studies show drastic changes in the population distribution and density of bird species, in relation to the changing environmental conditions of the forest cover. As part of the MAB research project in the Southern Appalachians, a training center is being set up to train specialists in the use of the Smithsonian MAB Protocol, a method designed to make inventories of biological diversity.

A demonstration center has already been established in the Great Smoky Mountains and plans have been drawn to establish linkages with sites in Latin America, to coordinate the research and the monitoring of migratory and sedentary birds. Two other studies on the latter were initiated, and ever since 1935 annual bird counts are carried out at Christmas. These activities favor local participation and encourage an interest in nature conservation.

Nevertheless, much of the research focuses on park management, such as the study of air quality or of introduced species in order to control their distribution. The influence of introduced plants and fish on the quality of the water has also been studied. Also under study are the impact of ecotourism; the effects of forest exploitation on the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of streams; air pollution (especially by lead); and the scope of acid rain. The decline of forest resources has become an especially serious problem, and because of this fact research has been intensified. Fraser firs (Abies fraseri) infested by the aphid (Adelges piceae) have been considerably reduced in numbers, especially in the southern region of the Appalachians. There is also an infestation of the beetle that attacks the southern pine (Pinus palustris), but the National Park Service only maps out infested forests, as this is a native insect and the increase in pine mortality is part of the natural cycle of the forest. Atmospheric pollution is also considered to be responsible for forest decline, and has also motivated research work.

In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, climatic data are also collected continuously, taken from representative controlled areas such as lakes, lacustrine bottoms, or emergent vegetation. Some 200 researchers work in the different sectors of the biosphere reserve. The park includes, among other services, lodgings for visiting scientists, a library, a nature museum on Grandfather Mountain, and facilities for the conservation and storage of biological and environmental collections.

Management and problem-solving

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited in the United States. Due to its intensive use by tourists and local residents, the park administration directs most of its efforts towards minimizing the anthropogenic impact. Thus some research work financed by the National Park Service aims at controlling these impacts and developing methods to reduce them or compensate for them. Other problems under study are illegal camping and road erosion by hikers and horseback riders.

The management of the biosphere reserve is mostly conditioned by that carried out in each of the zones within its limits. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is administered by the National Park Service of the Department of the Interior of the United States government. A director, with headquarters in the central office of the park in Gatlinburg (Tennessee), is responsible for the in situ management. This National Park has a global management plan and a series of sectorial management plans. The first divides the park into three major zones: the natural zone (92%), the historical zone (1%), and the development zone (7%).

The Oak Ridge Environmental Research National Park has wildlife management areas and state natural areas for the protection of unique habitats and threatened plant communities. The resources management plan at Oak Ridge includes the gathering of information on available resources and the analysis of areas where adequate planning can take place. The major management objective at the Coweeta Hydrological Laboratory is research. The space is divided according to experimental objectives into zones of manipulation and untouched control areas under strict protection.

The Departments of the Interior and Agriculture of the United States are responsible for the management of most public lands and their natural resources. This includes the sustainable use of soil and water resources, the protection of the fauna, and the conservation of the natural and cultural heritage of the different natural parks and historic monuments. The Department of the Interior is also responsible for energy and mineral resources and their exploitation and is the major body responsible for Indian reservations, for example the Cherokee Indian Reservation of Qualla in the buffer zone of the Southern Appalachian Biosphere Reserve.

The Southern Appalachian Biosphere Reserve is protected by both federal and state legislation and administration. In August 1988, 11 federal agencies and three state agencies signed a cooperation agreement with the purpose of "achieving a sustainable balance between the conservation of biological diversity, compatible economic use, and cultural values in the Southern Appalachians, collaborating with all parties concerned by means of the gathering and diffusion of information, integrated studies, and demonstration projects oriented towards the solution of critical problems in the region." A consortium was created, the Southern Appalachian Man and Biosphere Cooperative (SAMAB), that established six program committees (environmental research, sustainable development, environmental education, environmental training, resource management, and public participation) and created a foundation, the SAMAB Foundation, to facilitate the participation and support of universities, the private sector, and other nongovernmental organizations. SAMAB has developed an active research and education program in connection with sustainability and biodiversity and has studied other areas to determine their appropriateness for their inclusion in the Southern Appalachian Biosphere Reserve.

At present, some four to five million people live within the confines of the Southern Appalachian Biosphere Reserve, including the Cherokee Indian Reservation of Qualla in the transition zone. It is mostly a rural population, but there are nevertheless four urban areas of relative importance in the transition zone: Knoxville and Chattanooga, in the state of Tennessee; Roanoke, Virginia; and Asheville, North Carolina. Only two people live year-round within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park itself, and some 25 live in the housing units for park employees. In the core area of the Biosphere Reserve, biological inventories, environmental monitoring, environmental education, and no-impact recreation are carried out. The top priorities in the buffer zones of the biosphere reserve correspond in general to environmental education, tourism and recreation, and forestry. In the transition zones agriculture, forestry, human settlement, tourism and recreation, housing and tourist development, and projects on the use of water resources are carried out. Local communities benefit from job creation, subsidies, and financial incentives for the preservation and maintenance of traditional crops, soil and water conservation, and adaptation to tourism and recreation.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is kept in its natural and wild state and the park directorate urges visitors, whether on foot or horseback, to enjoy the park with care and exert a minimum impact on the environment. Different activities have been organized for tourists, including walks, camping, fishing, nature trails, and swimming. A picturesque mountain road goes through Newfound Gap to Clingmans Dome, from where a road leads to an observation tower with an excellent view of the region. There are some 930 mi (1,500 km) of trails for hiking and walks that follow the rivers or cross the forests and there are horses for hire in Cades Cove, Smokemont, Deep Creek, and Two-Mile-Branch, near Gatlinburg. There are nine camping grounds distributed around the park for tourists, either equipped or "primitive," that welcome some 680,000 visitors per year (1989). There are 18 shelters along the Appalachian Trail and more secluded paths. Unfortunately, the large number of visitors has caused serious damage to the vegetation in some areas, and this in turn has brought about soil erosion problems.

In the Southern Appalachian Biosphere Reserve, the areas under human occupation that have undergone the most devastating effects are those near the Little River Highway, on the trails that cross the mountains and other smaller road systems. Some roads climb up steep slopes and are closed in winter. In short, it can be said that the major threats to this biosphere reserve are air pollution, poaching, the introduction of nonendemic species, and an unequal development of neighboring lands.

2.3 Biosphere reserves in European deciduous forests

European biosphere reserves in the deciduous forest biome occupy over 12 million acres (5 million ha) and are mostly very small, with the exception of the western archipelago of Estonia, which occupies 30% of the area. One of the smallest of these is the National Natural Reserve of Taynish in Scotland, with only 806 acres (326 ha); however, it has the largest and best preserved sample of oak forest in Scotland. In reality the 10 biosphere reserves of the deciduous forest biome in the British Isles amount to a little over 111,200 acres (45,000 ha), less than 1% of the surface area of protected deciduous forests in the entire United Kingdom and Ireland. Moreover, not all the area of European biosphere reserves in the deciduous forest biome corresponds to the deciduous forest biome. As in most biosphere reserves in mountainous regions, high altitude parts are alpine or subalpine, or, as in the case of some Mediterranean mountains, deciduous forests occupy montane (cool timberline) zones, while the lower areas are part of the Mediterranean domain.

Transnational protected areas in Europe are important because of the numerous political frontiers that cross the ecosystems, and therefore a number of transfrontier biosphere reserves have had to be created, the majority of them in Eastern Europe. The Tatra, the Carpathian, and the Eastern Beskidy biosphere reserves are shared by Poland and Slovakia, that of Krkokonose / Karkonosze by Poland and the Czech Republic, and that of the East Carpathians by Poland, Slovakia, and the Ukraine. Others, not having shared management bodies, have biosphere reserves adjacent to sites in other countries, such as the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve in the Ukraine, which faces the Carpathian and Eastern Beskidy in Slovakia and Poland, and that of Bialowieza in Poland (13,136 acres [5,316 ha]), which joins that of Belovejska National Park in Belarus (437,622 acres [177,100 ha]). In Western Europe there is the Vosges du Nord/Pfalzerwald Biosphere Reserve, shared by France and Germany.

The Bialowieza Biosphere Reserve

Today there are eight biosphere reserves in Poland, all in the deciduous forest biome. These reserves, of which five are transfrontier with their counterpart in neighboring countries, occupy 637 sq mi or 407,722 acres (165,000 ha) in Polish territory, representing less than 1% of the surface area of Poland (120,734 sq mi [312,700 sq km]). Forest habitats are but fragments that cover less than 26% of the region. One of the most important is in the Bialowieza National Park in eastern Poland, on the border with Belarus. It is located at 52[degrees] 46' North and 23[degrees] 52' East in the southernmost part of the lowlands of Podlaquia and Bialowieza, in the natural forest province of Mazuria and Podlaquia.

Bialowieza is the main natural forest in the lowlands and the relatively better-preserved of the European plains. It contains the greatest animal diversity of all the lowland European forests and is the only European site where the European bison or wisent (Bison bonasus) still exists in semiwild herds. This forest has been classified as the most important region of mature deciduous forest in the continent, as it has virtually untouched fragments. It occupies some 371,000 acres (150,000 ha), shared along the border between Poland and Belarus. Forty-one percent of the forest (143,321 acres [58,000 hectares]) lies in Poland, the rest in Belarus. The more pristine and better preserved areas are in the Bialowieza National Park in Poland and in the Belovejka. In 1976 UNESCO declared the Polish forest of Bialowieza a biosphere reserve, and in 1979 it was listed as a natural site of the World Heritage Convention, to which the rest of the forest in Belarus was incorporated in 1992. It is the only transfrontier World Heritage site in Europe.

The historical process

The first vestiges of human settlements in the Bialowieza Forest date from the beginning of the Neolithic. The oldest findings are from the eighth or seventh century b.c. in the Dziki Nikor Mountains in the Belarusian part of the forest. This evidence is not sufficient, however, to identify the origins of these first inhabitants of the forest. Other archaeological remains proving Slavic colonization are the funerary mounds, often located near streams that cross the forest even in dry land. There is also clear archaeological evidence of a later colonization of the forest, toward the end of the fourteenth century, most probably stemming from the Polish region of Mazuria and further south of Rutenia, today in the Ukraine.

For many centuries, Bialowieza was the hunting ground of Lithuanian princes, Polish royalty, and Russian czars, which allowed the forest to remain relatively pristine. The only permanent settlement within the forest in those days was a hunting lodge built by the Dukes of Lithuania and from the early fifteenth century there were guards who protected the forest from poachers because it was reserved for princely hunts. When Lithuania was incorporated into Poland in 1569, the Bialowieza Forest became the property of the Polish crown. The Russian administration, which lasted from 1795 to World War I, declared this forest a reserve, but after Poland achieved independence in 1918, given the importance of this forest, their government declared a sizable part of it a national park in 1921, the first one in Poland. This was done, among other reasons, to protect the bison population that had been decimated almost to extinction by the violent battles between German and Russian troops during World War I and by the direct pursuit of these animals by hungry soldiers from both sides.

At the start of World War II, the forest was occupied first by the Soviet Army, and later in 1941 by the Germans, who established the Gestapo general headquarters in the nearby town of Bialowieza, remaining there until ejected by Soviet forces in July 1944. At the end of the war, and once Polish independence was reestablished, the new frontier agreed upon with the Soviet Union left the eastern part of the forest of Bialowieza within the borders of the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1947, Poland officially reestablished the national park in the western sector, while the hunting reserve of the Bialowieza Forest on the other side of the border was later declared a national park in 1991, and afterwards a biosphere reserve in 1993.

Today, within the strictly protected core area of the reserve, there are no human settlements or tourist facilities. The administration and tourist services are in the town of Bialowieza or on the park boundaries. The Nature and Forestry Museum is managed by park personnel, who also carry out scientific and educational activities. This musseum is located at the entrance of the park and shows exhibits on traditional methods of apiculture, wood distillation, the protection of plants, and local archaeological findings. There is also a Nature School, specifically designed for schoolchildren.

Characteristics and natural features

The advance and retreat of the Scandinavian ice sheet that 2,000 years ago covered a good part of the central region of Poland left diverse geological markings, such as basal and terminal moraines (various rock and sediment deposits) and surfaces of glacial sedimentation. The Bialowieza Forest area is covered by the glacial formation of central Poland and has deposits formed by sandy gravel with pebbles from the central moraines, glacial river sands, and clays with pebbles. Other important deposits consist of formations of peat and mud, sometimes with high peat bogs that are found in river valleys and in depressions.

The Polish territory is divided from west to east into five topographic zones. The westernmost, which is the most extensive and covers three-fourths of the Polish territory, is the great central plain, which narrows in its western part and broadens latitudinally both to the north and the south as it extends eastward. The Bialowieza Forest, located in the northern sector of the great central plain at an altitude of 446-663 ft (136-202 m), lies on the dividing line between the basins that drain into the Baltic and Black Seas. It is delimited to the south by the Narewka River and to the north by the Hwozna. Other important rivers in the forest are the Narew, the Lesna, the Lotownia, the Braszcza, and the Przewloka.

The region has a subcontinental climate with four highly differentiated seasons, an annual rainfall of 25 in (624 mm) and a mean temperature of 44[degrees]F (6.6[degrees]C). Summer rains are twice as heavy as those in winter and almost always provide enough water for growing crops. The vegetative growing period lasts only 205 days, i.e. 30 less than in the western regions of Poland. Most of the year the climate is continental, dominated by the high pressures of polar air that carry a dry and cool wind. Nevertheless, the area is also within the influence zone of the maritime climate of western Europe that moderates the temperature and provides enough rainfall during the entire year. This climate feature is more frequent in winter than in summer, which explains why winters are very humid, with long periods of fog and frequent precipitation, generally as snow. When the high polar system dominates, the moisture levels decrease and night temperatures can drop to -36[degrees]F (-38[degrees]C). The mean temperature of the coldest month (January) is 24[degrees]F (-4.7[degrees]C) and the mean for July, the warmest month, is 64[degrees]F (17.8[degrees]C). Snow remains on the ground an average of 92 days per year. Weather is very variable, both in spring and autumn, even though in the beginning of fall the days are clear, bright, and limpid. Summertime, from June to the end of August, is characterized by frequent rainfall and storms, although when winds blow from the south or southeast the weather becomes warm and dry. Dominant winds transport harmful air pollution from central Europe and even Poland itself, that falls as acid rain and affects the health of the forests.

Climatic and pedological (soil) conditions result in the great diversity of the Polish forest vegetation, to the point that 113 different plant associations have been described. In the well-drained soils of the Bialowieza National Park the most common type of forest is the mixed deciduous forest of hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata), with English (pedunculate) oaks (Quercus robur), elms (Ulmus), Norway maples (Acer platanoides), and some spruces (Picea abies). The second type of forest is formed by pine groves of Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) and spruce and is typical of poorer and drier soils. The third type is a mixed association of ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and alder (Alnus glutinosa) with spruce that is found in the lower poorly drained swampy areas. Twenty-six species of trees have been identified in the park. Among them the dominant species are hornbeam, small-leaved lime, alder, English (pedunculate) oak, maple, spruce, Scotch pine, and ash, with downy birch (Betula pubescens and B. verrucosa), aspen (Populus tremula) and willows (Salix).

The typical forest association of small-leaved lime, hornbeam, and oak is found on the brown and gray- brown podzols, as are the mixed coniferous forests with oaks, pines, and spruces, which also prefer relatively fertile podzols. The swampy forests of spruce on peat bogs, similar to the taiga forest in northern Siberia, are uncommon, occurring only in some areas of the park and in the northeast part of Poland. Alders, with some Scotch pines and ash, usually grow in poorly drained depressions. The forest in flood plains, formed by alders and ash with some spruces, is characterized by a sparse tree layer and a high herbaceous undergrowth with a predominance of nettles (Urtica). Willow groves generally grow on river terraces that, outside of the narrow strip of the riparian forest, have been completely modified for agricultural purposes.

The forest is classified as being boreo-nemoral due to the presence of the spruce and other species typical of taiga. The spruce and Scotch pine represent one-third of the volume of the forest and the remaining two-thirds are deciduous trees. In the Bialowieza deciduous forest the absolute absence of beech (Fagus), yew (Taxus), and larch (Larix) is surprising. More than 70 species of shrubs live in the park, among them mezereum (Daphne mezereum), and the rest are short scrubs, climbers, and herbaceous plants. Four communities of aquatic plants have also been described.

Thus, in this biosphere reserve, 632 of the 1,017 species of vascular plants are known in the Bialowieza Forest, of which 432 are native and the rest are introduced. Among the rare species are the ivy (Hedera helix), which is here at its easternmost limits; the dwarf birch (Betula humilis); the dwarf willow (Salix myrtilloides); the twinflower (Linnaea borealis); the Scrofulariaceae Pedicularis sceptrum-carolinum; the Ranunculaceae Isopyrum thalictroides; the Fabaceae Lathyrus laevigatus; the marsh saxifrage (Saxifraga hirculus); and the marsh felwort (Swertia perennis), as well as a dozen orchids.

Among the herbaceous species protected on a national scale are clubmosses (Lycopodium), pasqueflowers (Pulsatilla vulgaris), gentians (Gentiana), sundews (Drosera), globeflowers (Trollius europaeus), columbines (Aguilegia), the purple "Turks cap lily" (Lilium martagon), primroses (Primula vulgaris [=P. acaulis], lilies of the valley (Convallaria majalis), and sweet vernal grass, locally named bison grass (Hierochloe [=Anthoxanthum] odorata). There are also 250 species of lichens, including Usnea carpina, a recently described epiphyte (air plant) in the Bialowieza reserve; 80 liverworts; 2,000 fungi, among them the Polyporaceae Dendipratulum bialoviense and Poria albidofusca, also recently described in the reserve; and 156 aerophytic algae, i.e. nonaquatic ones that live on bark and rocks in moist areas of the forest.

Many trees are over two centuries old and most of them attain exceptional heights. The spruce can reach 180 ft (55 m) in height and the Scotch pine, the English (pedunculate) oak, the small-leaved lime, and the ash tree approach 130 ft (40 m). Visitors are indeed impressed and will certainly remember the park, and especially the old forest or puszcza. The serenity of the forest fills the spaces between the oak trees, spruces, and hornbeams that form a dense canopy where sunlight barely penetrates. Due to their great size, 1,565 trees in the park have been classified as natural monuments. Outside national park limits, in the managed part of the forest, going down a nature trail 1,640 ft (0.5 km) long, the visitor can see 24 gigantic oaks that have been listed as natural monuments, each having the name of a Polish monarch or a Lithuanian duke related to the Bialowieza Forest.

The park fauna is unusually diverse, with an estimated 11,000 species. Among the recently described endemic species are the hymenopterous insect Centrobia annae and the buprestid beetle Agrilus bialowiazaensis. Deciduous forests are the major habitat of 34% of the most important bird species in Poland. Half of the area consists of few alder woods and of gallery forests of high diversity. Considering the surface area, the diversity of insects of the park is remarkable; it is calculated at 8,500 species, among which, apart from the above-mentioned endemic species, are Coleopterae such as stag beetles (Lucanidae); ground beetles such as Calosoma; other Carabidae or rare species such as the pythid Pytho kolwensis or the buprestid Buprestis splendens; Hymenoptera such as bumble bees, common bees, and other social bees; and Lepidoptera such as Colias palena, Apatura iris, A. ilia, or Lathoe tremulae.

Reptiles include the adder (Vipera berus) and the European pond terrapin (Emys orbicularis). Bird diversity is indeed important, surpassed only by that of insects. More than 249 species of birds have been identified in Bialowieza, of which 177 nest in the area. Among the exceptional species are the black stork (Ciconia nigra), the northern hazelhen (Bonasa bonasia), the booted eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus), the crane (Grus grus), the green sandpiper (Tringa ochropus), the pygmy owl (Glaucidium passerinum), the black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius), the three-toed woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus) and other woodpeckers (Dendrocopos medius and D. leucotos), the golden oriole (Oriolus oriolus), and the spotted nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocatactes). The colored flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis) and the red-breasted flycatcher (F. parva) are often found in the predominant associations (lime, hornbeam, and oak). This forest is probably the best site in Europe to see the Pomerine eagle (Aquila pomarina) and eight European species of woodpeckers. At the edge of the forest live the wryneck (Jynx torquilla), the redwing (Turdus iliacus), the thrush nightingale (Luscinia luscinia), the barred warbler (Sylvia nisoria), the icterine warbler (Hippolais icterina), the river warbler (Locustella fluviatilis), the common rosefinch (Carpodacus erythrinus), the eagle owl (Bubo bubo), the raven (Corvus corax), the corn crake (Crex crex), the black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa), the kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), the mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos), the garganey (A. querquedula), the ruff (Philomachus pugnax), the goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), and the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus). Among wintering birds are the pine grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator), the rough-legged buzzard (Buteo lagopus), the snow bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis), the shore lark (Eremophila alpestris), and the waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus).

The largest populations of European bison (Bison bonasus), the biggest land animal in Europe, live in the Bialowieza forest. It is a large bovid about 6.5 ft (2 m) tall and 10 ft (3 m) long from the head to the base of the tail, and can weigh up to 2,200 lb (1,000 kg). Originally it could have been a species from the steppes and prairies, but in the postglacial period it became adapted to deciduous forests, especially in clearings. It is also specially adapted to the long and harsh winters of central Europe. Horses (Equus caballus) called koniks, which run free in the biosphere reserve of Bialowieza, show a morphological convergence with the extinct tarpan (E. caballus gmelini) that lived in Polish forests until the beginning of the nineteenth century. Today only hybrids exist, but attempts are being made to rebuild its original genetic makeup.

The largest-known population of the European beaver (Castor fiber) is also found in the biosphere reserve. This species was eradicated from the Bialowieza Forest during the nineteenth century, but after the return of a few pairs, it has repopulated the wetlands of this forest area with considerable success.

Other mammals of the Bialowieza Forest are the European marten (Martes martes), the wolf (Canis lupus), the common lynx (Felis lynx), the fox (Vulpes vulpes), the polecat (Mustela putorius), the ermine (M. erminea), the common weasel (M. nivalis), the roe deer (Capreolus), the deer (Cervus elaphus), the moose (Antes antes), the boar (Sus scrofa), the badger (Meles meles), the otter (Lutra lutra), the squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), the mountain hare or snow hare (Lepus timidus), the Balkan dormouse (Dryomys nitedula), the fat dormouse (Glis glis), the mole (Microtus oeconomus), shrews (Sorex minutissimus and Sorex caecutiens), 13 species of bats including some noctules (Nyctalus), the yellow-throated field mouse (Apodemus flavicollis), the red mole (Clethrionomys glareolus), the northern birch mouse (Sicista betulina), and the tanuki (Nyctereutes procyonoides), the latter an introduced species.

The large populations of moles and mice represent 90% of the winter food resources for polecats, ermines, weasels, and badgers. Foxes and martens also prey upon these moles and mice, but large predators such as lynx and wolves concentrate on ungulate populations, mainly deer and boar.

Management and problem-solving

The surface area of the park includes a small core area of 11,730 acres (4,747 ha) between the Hwozna and Narewka Rivers and another of 613 acres (248 ha) around the town of Bialowieza. A buffer zone 9-12 mi (15-20 km) wide to the north and west separates the strictly protected area from the managed forest and includes a state forest, with an additional complementary buffer zone only 3,280 ft (1 km) wide in which cutting, hunting, and pesticide use are forbidden. The park around the palace, built at the end of the nineteenth century, occupies 121 acres (49 ha) and today houses the park's director's office.

The European bison is bred in a neighboring area of 672 acres (272 ha) with some enclosures for breeding and others for public access to watch the animals. The eastern border of the reserve coincides with the Polish-Belarusian frontier. On the other side is the Belarusian biosphere reserve of the Belovejka National Park, with a buffer zone of 216,481 acres (87,607 ha).

Human settlements are forbidden in the core area. Some activities, such as harvesting grass and hay, are allowed in the buffer zone but hunting is forbidden throughout. There were formerly conflicts between local communities and wild animals. Deer and boar and sometimes bison populations caused considerable damage to crops in the fields next to the reserve. To reduce this damage, a six- and-one-half-foot (two-meter) high fence was built between the buffer zone of the park and the local farms, which are in some cases compensated for damages by the park or the state forest administration. Access to the forest is strictly controlled and the core area can only be visited when accompanied by a park guide.

According to a recent study, two-thirds of the forest area in Poland is seriously threatened and industrial pollution has harmed 1.6 million acres (645,000 ha) of forest. During recent decades, the socioeconomic development of Poland has been linked with the extensive use of water, minerals, soils, and forest resources, resulting in a far-reaching environmental degradation that has altered ecological balances. For this reason, Poland is today one of the most polluted countries in Europe. For example, the high sulfur content in heating coal is one of the major causes of air pollution, which has motivated the implementation of "The Green Lungs of Poland," an ecodevelopment project to promote less-polluting heating systems, changing from coal to propane or butane gas.

Other minor threats are those resulting from visitors on foot, bicycles, or in horse-drawn carriages, and the proliferation of introduced plants such as the Balsaminaceae Impatiens parviflora, originally from central Asia. Another possible future threat for the biosphere reserve could be the disturbance of local hydrological conditions caused by river control and the artificial drainage of lands. In 1991, the Siemianowka dam was built on the Narewka River, only 8 mi (13 km) away from the border of the park, with a surface area of 7,907 acres (3,200 ha) to regulate river flow. The possible impact of this dam on the reserve remains to be seen.

Since the 1920s, the Bialowieza National Park has been carrying out an active research program. Park personnel are undertaking studies on the ecology of the bison population and collecting climatic and hydrological data. Recently about 50 research projects focused on the flora and fauna and on broad-based ecological problems, and some of these use long-term research plots (some of them since 1936) to study changes in vegetation structure under natural conditions.

There are five research units in the national park: the Department of Natural Forest of the Forest Research Institute, founded in 1930; the Institute of Masto-logical Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences, founded in 1954; the Bialowieza Geobotanic Station of the University of Warsaw; the Demographic La-boratory of Plant Populations of the Botanical Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences; and the Laboratory of Ecology and Protection of Natural Habitats.

Even though the forest has been officially protected for over 70 years, conservationists believe that the area of the park is too small and insufficient as a hunting territory for mammals. An ongoing project is studying the relationship between dams and the predator density and could favor the development of a management plan for the fauna. Of the 113 plant associations that exist in the 153,205 acres (62,000 ha) of the Polish side of the forest, only 20 are found in the core zone of the biosphere reserve. The national park does not include major rivers or the different types of forests that depend on these. Thus many plant and animal communities in humid zones are outside park limits and enjoy minimal protection. Some forest associations of wide distribution are not represented in the park, such as the pine forest of Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) with the red bilberry (Vaccinium vitis-ideae).

Since 1954 there has been increasing interest on the part of NGOs, both Polish and foreign, in the protection of the Bialowieza Forest. In 1992, woods adjacent to the forest part were reclassified as a forest complex, where all silvicultural operations should be developed by taking the greatest care to ensure the conservation of their natural character and high biodiversity. Moreover, in July 1995 the felling of deciduous trees over 200 years old was forbidden, and plans have been drafted to widen the area of the Bialowieza National Park from 26,786 to 44,479 acres (10,840 to 18,000 ha) with the inclusion of these forests.

The Cill Airne (Killarney) Biosphere


The first Irish biosphere reserve was designated on the island of North Bull in 1981. The following year Cill Airne, in English Killarney, was designated a biosphere reserve. This national park was officially founded in 1932 when Senator Arthur Vincent and his parents-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Bourn, left to the nation the 9,884 acres (4,000 ha) of their Muckross Estate, near the county of Ciarrai (Kerry), for the purpose of establishing a national park.

In 1970, the Irish government analyzed the management plan of the different national parks and their classification systems and adopted the IUCN system. Cill Airne, the broader version of the first national park, incorporated the Bourn Vincent Memorial Park and a greater portion of the forest, peat fields, coast, and dry lands in the vicinity of Cill Airne, as well as three famous lakes (Loch Lein, Muckross, and Upper Lake).

Characteristics and natural features

The Cill Airne National Park is located at 52[degrees] 01' North and 9[degrees] 35' West, near the southwest coast of the country and exactly southwest of the city of Cill Airne in County Ciarrai. The total surface area of the park, which also corresponds to the biosphere reserve, is 25,029 acres (10,129 ha) and the three freshwater lakes it contains occupy 24% of the area.

In the Cill Airne National Park biosphere reserve there are two very different types of rock. An important geographical border, which runs under Loch Lein and Lake Muckross through most of its length, crosses the park from northwest to southeast. It separates the mountainous regions of Devonian rocks to the south and west from an extensive plain of Carboniferous rocks to the north and east. The Devonian rocks, known generally as "old red sandstone," consist of numerous layers of sandstone alternating with slate and conglomerates. The Devonian mother rock comes to the surface at several points and only in very specific sites is covered with glacier deposits, soils, or peat. The Carboniferous rocks are mainly calcareous. They can be either nonstratified clayey masses or stratified calcareous sandstone. The Carboniferous formations emerge along the banks of Lake Muckross and Loch Lein and their surrounding area. One of the formations of microcrystalline quartz (a type of flint stone) has partially become the hard white and pink marble of Cill Airne, which emerges as outcroppings in the Muckross Peninsula. The different characteristics of the major rock formations have influenced diversely the topography of the national park. Sandstone is relatively resistant to weathering, resulting in rugged mountainous country, while different forms of erosion have worn away the Carboniferous rocks, thus constituting a depressed plain. Other than rock formations, glaciation periods have been the determining factor of the relief. While crests of rounded tops, known as nunataks, represent preglacier surfaces that remained above the advancing glacier, the geomorphology of the mountain area is the result of glacial erosion. For example, at high altitudes erosion by ice and frost have dug out cirques that often fill with water, forming small lakes such as the Devil's Punch Bowl.

The most important climatic factors in the biosphere reserve are the moderating effect of the humid and warm air coming from the Atlantic Ocean on the temperature and the rains resulting from the upward movement of this air when it blows over the mountains. The result is a typically oceanic climate characterized by temperate winters, cool summers, and rain uniformly distributed throughout the year. Due to the proximity of the ocean and to warm and humid air coming from the Atlantic that climbs up the mountains, cloud formation is frequent, thus reducing the number of sunlight hours. Measures vary between an average of 0.9 sunlight hours per day in December and 4.5 hours per day from April to August. May is the sunniest month, with a mean of 5.2 hours per day.

Temperature data corresponding to the years 1968-1980 show a slight variation of 17[degrees]F (9.4[degrees]C) between the mean of the coldest month (January, 42[degrees]F [5.8[degrees]C]) and the mean of the warmest month (July, 59[degrees]F [15.2[degrees]C]). It must be pointed out that soil temperatures remain generally above the freezing point all year long, so that soils freeze only occasionally. The vegetative season is long and often depends upon the type of soil and its drainage. Dominant winds in Cill Airne blow from south to southwest. Westerly winds follow in frequency and southeasterly ones are less frequent. Air quality is generally good; the daily readings of sulfur dioxide from 1981 to 1987 showed a mean of 1.52 to 1.86 mg per cubic meter. It appears that Cill Airne has not yet been affected by acid rain.

The most characteristic physical feature of Cill Airne is the lake system of Loch Lein, Muckross Lake, and Upper Lake, which together total a surface area of 6,106 acres (2,471 ha), plus the five rivers and numerous mountain streams that empty into these. The basins of Upper Lake and Muckross Lake and of the Flesk and Deenagh Rivers, which altogether total 160,618 acres (65,000 ha), flow into Loch Lein, the largest lake. The latter flows into Lamhain River, which in turn drains into the sea at Cill Orglan (Killorglin), 14 mi (22 km) downstream.

Limnological analyses of these lakes carried out since 1971 indicate that it is a nutrient-poor system, due above all to the predominance of sandstone. Upper Lake and Muckross Lake remain unpolluted and are considered to be oligotrophic. Loch Lein, with more highly mineralized waters due to the abundance of nutrients in the Carboniferous calcareous rocks of its basin, would be mesotrophic. The lake, however, is experiencing a growing eutrophication (excess algae growth and oxygen loss) due to the waste water it receives. The increase in phosphorus levels, caused by waste water from the city of Cill Airne, is also significant, although residual waters may originate from other sources, including agricultural effluents and pollutants from forest activities in the basin. In the summer of 1983 this caused serious algae proliferation, but upon the improvement in the wastewater treatment installations of Cill Airne there has been an improvement in the water quality of Loch Lein. Changes in wastewater treatment are still undergoing experimentation. For the small lakes in the glacial cirgues, locally called "corries," there are few data, but in general they are considered to be nutrient-poor and are classified as being oligotrophic.

The park presents a great variety of habitats: forests, peat bogs, peat swamps, and freshwater ecosystems. Both peat bogs and peat swamps cover most of the region. The forests are mainly Atlantic forests, generally of sessile oak (Quercus petraea) and, more frequently, English (pedunculate) oak (Q. robur). There are also important yew woods and gallery forests. The Cill Airne oak forest, most of which is within the park, is the largest area of preserved native forest in Ireland.

Many plants in this biosphere reserve have a peculiar or uncommon distribution area that can be grouped into one of four categories: Atlantic, North American, Arctic-Alpine, and very rare. The Irish spurge (Euphorbia hyverna) is an eminently Atlantic species common in the biosphere reserve, although now restricted to the southwest tip of Ireland. There are also two species of Saxifraga, St. Patrick's cabbage (Saxifraga spatularia) and the kidney saxifrage (S. hirsuta), which are common in Cill Airne and other parts of west Ireland as well as in the north of Spain and Portugal, but are absent from Great Britain and the Atlantic portion of France. Affinities with North American flora are seen in the presence of species such as blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bermudiana), which, outside Ireland, has its closest geographical location in Newfoundland, or the pipewort (Erio-caulon aquaticum), an Eurocaulaciae very rare both in northern Scotland and North America, the other areas where it exists.

The Arctic-Alpine affinities are evidenced by two uncommon species in the biosphere reserve: hoary whitlowgrass (Draba incana) and common sorrel (Rumex acetosa), and others of wider distribution such as clubmosses (Lycopodium) and ferns of the genus Polystichum. The area of the strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo), a Mediterranean plant that is found mostly in the biosphere reserve of Cill Airne but is rare on the rest of the island, only grows in the oak forest (Quercus petraea) that surrounds the lakes of Cill Airne. Its flowers, in the shape of white- or cream-colored little bells, appear in September and its fruit, red and verrucose (wartlike), ripens in October of the following year. In the Cill Airne forests this bushy Ericaceae grows as tall as 33 ft (10 m).

Three species in the reserve are listed in the "Order for the Protection of the Flora" (1987), which stemmed from the Nature Law of 1976. These are the Cill Airne fern (Vandesboschia [=Trichomanes] speciosa), Pilularia globulifera, and the slender naiad (Naias flexilis). Moreover, the pondweed (Potamogeton [=Groenlandia] densus), which was already observed in the park in the nineteenth century, is also on the list of protected species. In the middle of the nineteenth century, the interest inspired by the rarity of the Cill Airne fern added to the zeal of Victorian collectors to incorporate rare species of ferns into their herbaria or greenhouses and brought about a drastic reduction of its populations. Other remarkable rare species in the reserve are a buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula), two species of common whitebeam (Sorbus aria), the bird's-nest orchid (Neottia nidus-avis), and the shepherd's cress (Teesdalia nudicaulis).

Cill Airne has been described as a unique area in Europe for its wealth in bryophytes (mosses and liverworts). Noted examples of this richness are the liverworts Lejeunea flora and Cephalozia hibernica, endemic to this area and to some Micronesian islands. The diversity of lichens is also important and related to the presence of a great variety of habitats: mature forests, a temperate and humid climate, and very clean air. The more important species correspond to the genera Lobarea, Parmeliella, Sticta, and Pannaria, in many cases locally extinct in regions of the European continent with high pollution rates.

Many animals were common in Ireland that are today extinct due to the expansion of the human population, the development of agriculture, and the destruction of natural habitats. Numerous animals of the deciduous forests have gradually disappeared due to deforestation or to ruthless hunting, either for food or sport. For example, the wolf disappeared completely from Ireland in the eighteenth century. Cill Airne preserves the last herd of native deer (Cervus elaphus) existing in Ireland, consisting of 600 individuals that descend directly from deer that lived in the country in prehistoric times. Others on the island descend from reintroduced specimens. The strict hunting bans and the measures taken in the park against poachers explain the recent increase of this population. Nevertheless, the sika or introduced Japanese deer (Cervus nippon) remains more numerous.

The introduced sika population has grown from three individuals in 1865 to nearly 1,000 today. This species is native to several places in East Asia, from the extreme eastern part of Russia (Ussuri region) to the north of Vietnam and the Ryukyu Islands in the Japanese archipelago, as well as Taiwan. In Japan it is called the spotted deer, as it has an attractive brown spotted coat during the summer. It is unevenly distributed in Ireland and the semiwild herds come from freed animals or those that escaped. The sikas represent a threat to the genetic integrity of the native deer, with which they mix in some parts of the country. They also are responsible for the absence of the natural regeneration of oak forests in the last 15 years. The park administration is aware that it is not possible to eradicate the sika on the short term, but has started a program of capture and selection of live animals. Small groups of Irish deer have been transferred to zones far away from sika populations, to establish herds free of the threat of hybridization.

The American mink (Mustela vison) is another introduced mammal and the Irish populations are descendants of animals that escaped from mink farms in the 1950s. Its eradication would be extremely difficult as it is now present all over Ireland, and it has become evident that, after an initial harmful phase for the populations of other species, mink populations have stabilized. A control program during the breeding season of aquatic birds has been proposed, taking into account that such bird populations, especially those that nest in islands on continental waters, are the most affected. The Cill Airne management plan also considers as introduced species the red mole (Clethriomomys glareosus), the common rat (Rattus norvegicus), the rabbit (Oryctogalus cuniculus), goats, cats, and dogs, both semiwild and wild. Among the native mammals, two are very important: the marten (Martes martes) and the otter (Lutra lutra). The marten, which is an extremely rare and silent predator, has been sighted intermittently in the reserve and lately its populations have increased after releasing individuals bred in captivity. The otter, quite threatened in most of Europe, abounds in the reserve.

The varied habitats in the park result in a great and rich diversity of birds. In the highlands the more common birds are the meadow pipit (Anthus pratensis), the stonechat (Saxicola torquata), and the raven (Corvus corax). Those that often nest in the forests are the chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) and the robin (Erithacus rubecula). In the lakes of Cill Airne 34 aquatic bird species have been observed, 21 of which are irregulars, as well as eight species of stilted birds and two species of ralids on the lake margins.

The most common on the shores of the lakes are the mallard duck (Anas plathyrhyncos), the tufted duck (Aythya fuligula), and the coot (Fulica atra). The gray heron (Ardea cinerea), the kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), and the dipper (Cinclus cinclus) are seen more often in the rivers and mountain streams.

Of the 124 species of birds observed in the reserve, there are five that are especially interesting. The most interesting is the white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons), representing half of the world's population, estimated at 29,000 specimens. It winters in Ireland. The small flock that winters in the biosphere reserve and its surroundings (some 35 to 40 individuals most years) is one of the few remaining flocks that feeds almost exclusively in the blanket bogs of this region. Among the birds of prey there are the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), which nests in the reserve and its surroundings, and the merlin (F. columbarius). The chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), with red feet and beak, nests in three sites near the park, while the redstar (Phoenicurus phoenicurus), which rarely nests in Ireland today, in the past nested in the oak forests of Cill Airne but has not been seen for the last 10 years.

Frogs are common in the biosphere reserve, but there is relatively little specific information on amphibians. Among the invertebrates, the slug Geomalacus maculosus, grayish green with cream-colored spots, is found only in the southwest of Ireland, the northwest of Spain, and the north of Portugal. When it rains or the moisture is high it is found on mosses and lichens that cover trees and rocks.

Cultural heritage

The Cill Airne National Park has many prehistoric remains and sites, as well as more recent ruins and buildings. Some of the oldest remains of human occupation are found on the island of Ross, where copper was mined during the Iron Age more than 4,000 years ago. In the Kenmare Farm in Balldowney, an ancient open-air oven called fulacht fiadh was discovered, and in the Muckross area are two crypts dating from the early Christian period (fifth and sixth centuries).

On the island Innesfallen in Loch Lein are the ruins of a monastery thought to have been founded by St. Fionan in the seventh century. It is believed to have been an important center of knowledge between the mid-twelfth and the fifteenth centuries and that the annals of Innesfallen, one of the most important sources of information on the early history of Ireland, were written there. Ross Castle, recently restored, is on Ross Island, which is really a peninsula in Loch Lein. It was the residence of lords of O'Donoghue Mor and consists of a fifteenth-century fortified building and two towers. Also on the banks of Loch Lein are found the well-known ruins of the Irrelagh Franciscan Convent, founded in 1448, known today as Muckross Abbey.

The major site of the national park is Muckross House. The building as it stands dates from 1843 and was designed by William Burn. It is in the neo-Elizabethan style, with high chimneys, very steep roofs, and large mullions (dividing window or door bars). The building, recently restored, is open to the public and houses the Cill Airne Museum of Art and Folklore. The House is managed jointly by the park director's office and the house administrators.

Management and problem-solving

In 1969 the Cill Airne National Park started a scientific research program, undertaken by postgraduates and academic personnel with financial assistance from the Department of Public Works of the Irish government. Research covers diverse subjects such as the history of the vegetation, ecosystem dynamics, population ecology, the impact of introduced species, and limnology. The data from these studies have been most profitable, both for the park administration and the professional and student teams.

Park personnel take charge of the inspection, control, and laying out of major research lines. Fieldwork consists of the inventory of species, classification of invertebrates, mapping of species distribution, and monitoring of climate conditions, changes in vegetation, and the migration of deer and aquatic birds. Personnel have also participated in collaborative research projects with other institutions. The joint management of the national park and the biosphere reserve was, until recently, the responsibility of the Department of Public Works of Ireland, with headquarters in Dublin, but at present is managed by the Department of Arts, Culture, and Gaeltacht (the name given to the Irish population that maintains Gaelic as its first language). The management of field operations falls under the responsibility of the superintendent and of park guards with offices in Muckross House.

As often happens, this reserve consists of more than one ecological unit; therefore, any change or transformation can have an impact, especially if it takes place in its immediate surroundings. The management plan of the park identifies a potential transition zone within which any development must be approved by the County Council of Ciarrai, the Cill Airne Urban District Council, and other authorities.

Cill Airne National Park consists of four management zones: natural, cultural, intensive management, and restoration of resources. The main objective in the natural zone is nature conservation, even though interpretation and research activities are allowed and promoted, provided that they are compatible with nature. In the cultural zone the main objective is the conservation of the features resulting from human activities. Nature is also preserved and research is allowed, as long as it remains pertinent to the primary objective of the zone. The intensive management zone concentrates on visitors' services, the management of the park, lodgings, and complementary services. Most facilities for visitors are in this zone, such as Muckross House and its gardens. The resource restoration zone includes plantations of conifers and other nonnative trees; its aim is to practice the type of management that contributes to the general objectives of the park and seeks the integration of these spaces with other zones.

One of the outstanding conservation projects consisted of the elimination of a forest plantation. Between 1933 and 1958 the former Forest Division undertook the management of 3,057 acres (1,237 ha) of the Bourn Vincent Memorial Park, divided into three areas: Muckross-Torc (1,329 acres [538 ha]), Derrycunnihy / Looscaunagh (917 acres [371 ha]), and Tomies (811 acres [328 ha]). Most tree plantations were composed of exotic conifers, among them the Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) and Murray's pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia). In 1984, the government decided to return these lands to the joint management of the park, as this type of plantation is incompatible with national park policies.

Most of the park's active management concentrates on two themes: compensating for the paucity of predators and controlling the populations of introduced species. The actions undertaken for the sika and the American mink have already been described in a previous section. Control measures have also had to be taken, however, concerning some invading plants. The pontic rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum) is a bushy Ericaceae native to the Black Sea coast and some parts of the southwest of the Iberian Peninsula. It was planted extensively in Ireland starting in the eighteenth century as an ornamental plant and as a hideout for hunting, and since then it has spread out to invade most of the Cill Airne deciduous forest. Consequently, the existence of this rhododendron and the serious threat it represents to the autochthonous oak forest impose serious challenges to park administration.

Up to the present no fast and efficient control methods have been found. After cutting, dividing, and burning the bushes, stocks have to be removed and shoots treated with herbicides; small plants have to be eliminated, including seedlings; and the thousands of smaller plants that continue to grow in subsequent years must be uprooted by hand. This is a labor-intensive process carried out by park personnel with temporary workers and volunteers. It must be systematic and meticulous if eradication is to take place. The park's management plan foresees by 2010 the total eradication of pontic rhododendron from 75% of the park's deciduous forest.

This management plan was published in 1990 and received wide support. In addition, a 10-year management agreement was signed with Muckross House administrators that anticipates the joint administration of services between 1991 and the millennium. Although the Cill Airne National Park and the biosphere reserve share the same territory, it is proposed that the biosphere reserve encompass a wider area on the long term, as the type of appropriate manipulating research for the outer zones of the biosphere reserve would not be compatible with the objectives of the national park.

The conservation of the Cill Airne valley could take place within the context of the widening of the national park, but in many cases buying new lands would not be necessary or appropriate. An alternative would be the creation of buffer zones around national parks, subject to control and management. Thus, the Cill Airne National Park could become the core zone of an enlarged protected area that would include the Gap of Dunloe, Horses' Glen, Mangerton's Prairie, and perhaps more lands if panoramic zones were added, such as Macgillicuddy's Reeks. A buffer zone of this sort could also serve as the surrounding area of the biosphere reserve.

2.4 Biosphere reserves in Asian deciduous forests

There are 20 biosphere reserves in East Asia, 10 of which cover 2.5 million acres (1 million ha) in the deciduous forest biome. Even though a third of this surface area corresponds to the biosphere reserve of Sikhote-Alin in the Russian Far East, the most important country in this region is China, with four biosphere reserves of some 1.1 million acres (450,000 ha). In contrast, the two biosphere reserves in Japan barely occupy 148,000 acres (60,000 ha) and the one in the highlands of Shiga, with 74,131 acres (30,000 ha), is the smallest in East Asia. The reserves in the People's Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea) and in the Republic of Korea (South Korea) have 326,178 and 92,269 acres (132,000 and 37,430 ha) respectively. A common feature to these biosphere reserves is a rugged relief with different altitudinal vegetation zones, of which some are deciduous forests.

Three other biosphere reserves on the Asian continent are also montane, two in Iran and one straddling the frontier between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, which also have some altitudinal zones with a predominance of species typical of deciduous forests. This situation is similar to the one already referred to in montane biosphere reserves in Mediterranean Europe, which present altitudinal zones with mid-European vegetation.

The biosphere reserve of Mount Sorak

The biosphere reserve of Mount Sorak in South Korea includes the national park of the same name, with a surface area of 92,417 acres (37,400 ha), of which 40,278 acres (16,300 ha), i.e. 44%, constitute the core zone. The park is one of the most beautiful in the country and is famous for its granite peaks, exuberant green valleys, constellations of temples, waterfalls, and thermal springs. The ensemble has been legally protected since 1965 and was declared a national park by the South Korean government in 1970 and a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1982.

The Mount Sorak National Park is the northernmost of the 20 national parks of the Republic of Korea. It is located at 38[degrees] 09' North and 128[degrees] 24' East in the province of Kangwon in the northeast of the country and is part of the T'aebaek Mountain range that crosses the Korean Peninsula from north to south, along the eastern coast, as a sort of spinal column. The park is next to the port city of Sokch'o and some 124 mi (200 km) northeast of Seoul. Northward, where the 38th parallel crosses the park, there is a lovely and rugged mountain area called Sorak, which means "snow-covered." Mount Sorak is the third highest mountain in Korea and is often considered to be the most beautiful in the country. Until recently, however, it was relatively isolated. The division of Korea in 1945 into two occupied zones (North American and Soviet) separated by the 38th parallel divided the present park area, leaving the highest peaks of the Sorak range in the north. In the summer of 1950, the whole area of Mount Sorak fell under the control of North Korea and remained so until the spring of 1951. Nevertheless, upon the signature of the armistice in 1953 the Demarcation Line between North Korea (The People's Republic of Korea) and South Korea (Republic of Korea) was moved north of the Mount Sorak range.

Characteristics and natural features

Korea is characterized by a very rugged relief (variations in height), with 70% of its territory occupied by hills and mountains. In the south and west of the country, hills are low even though numerous, but towards the east and the north they gradually become higher. In general, the western and southern sides of the peninsula have a less rugged relief, with plains and estuaries, while the high T'aebaek Mountain range borders the coast on the eastern side. Apparently, most of the Korean Peninsula was a low and eroded plain until the mid-Tertiary. Toward the end of this period it rose faster on the eastern than on the western coast. The present relief, as a consequence of continuous erosion, represents a mature stage, with a more pronounced relief along the T'aebaek Mountains. The peninsula is crossed by two mountain ranges that are characterized by a complex variety of granites and gneiss, with spectacular rocky mountains and abrupt crests on the northern part of the T'aebaek range. The most important mountain ranges are the T'aebaek and the Nangnim, which run almost parallel along the eastern coast of the peninsula, and have many high peaks, such as Mount Nangnim (6,608 ft [2,014 m]) and Mount Sorak (5,604 ft [1,708 m]), at the center of the national park and biosphere reserve that bear the same name. The mountains afford a good view of the deep canyons in the vicinity, the valleys, crests, rocky peaks, waterfalls, and lakes. The park also contains some famous valleys (Chonbuldong, Katadong, Onsudong, Suryomdong, Kugokdam, and Paekdamsa) and two rivers that originate there and flow into the Han, which runs westward.

Most of the substrate that extends through the northeast of Korea is made up of granite, gneiss, porphyritic quartz, and sedimentary rocks. The granite is of a variety containing biotite and biotite associated with muscovite, resulting from an intrusion at the end of the Cretaceous. Gneiss has dark gray feldspars, dark blue quartz, and golden biotite. During the same period, there were also intrusions of porphyritic quartz and other materials within the granite and the gneiss. Granite penetration occurred jointly with the formation of faults and the deposit of metallic ores. Southwest of Mount Sorak gold-bearing deposits, and the mining district of Samch'ok, are among the richest in Asia.

The Mount Sorak biosphere reserve has a humid, monsoonal climate, with warm and rainy summers and cold winters, completely different from similar latitudes on the western coast of Korea, where winters are warm and humid. The winter monsoon that originates in the interior of the continent is dry and cold, which explains the scarce amount of rain and occasional snow. In the mountains, naturally, it is colder with more frequent snow. There are two types of cyclones which influence South Korean climate; one forms in the valley of the Chang (formerly Yangtze) River and crosses Korea during April or May and towards early summer. The second is a typhoon that generally originates east of the Philippines and moves northward. Near Taiwan typhoons can turn northeastward but some go directly northward, passing over the Korean coast. Very few typhoons reach the north of the country.

In Korea there are three major types of forests: the temperate, the deciduous, and the cold boreal. In the Mount Sorak biosphere reserve, on its northern part and higher sites, deciduous forests are represented by the serrate-leaf oak (Quercus serrata) and firs (Abies), along with other oaks, pines, maples, larches, cherry trees, ash trees, and sumacs, which display an extraordinary color array in the autumn. The boreal forest communities are dominated by firs and birches (Betula).

There are 939 species of vascular plants in the biosphere reserve, 48 of them considered rare in the country and 65 endemic. Among them are the Rosaceae Spiraea pubescens var. lasiocarpa, the Tiliaceae Tilia mandschurica var. villicapra, the Liliaceae Veratrum mackii var. macrantus, the Ranunculaceae Clematis koreana, the Ericaceae Rhododendron mucronulatum var. ciliatum, the Campanulaceae Hanabusaya asiatica, and the Apiaceae Angelica megaphylla. The alpine altitudinal zone of the mountains in the Mount Sorak Biosphere Reserve is the only place in Korea where plants such as the Ericaceae Arctostaphylos [=Arctous] rubra and the Ranuncaleae Anemone narcissiflora occur. The pine Pinus pumila is cataloged as a plant in danger of extinction and the Fumariaceae Dicentra spectabilis, which is often cultivated as an ornamental for its attractive flowers, is also endangered in its natural habitat and it has an international status of undetermined risk.

The Korean fauna suffered greatly from the effects of the 1950-1953 war and ensuing period of social disorder. Soldiers and civilians poached wild animals with shotguns, traps, and poisons to sell as skins, meat, and trophies for taxidermists. This brought about a drastic reduction in the number and diversity of animals, and some species were reduced almost to extinction. In the IUCN Red Book 29 species are listed for the Republic of Korea: three considered endangered, 13 vulnerable, six rare, and three in an undetermined situation; the remaining four are believed to belong to one of the preceding categories, but there is not enough data to classify them.

Fortunately, the Mount Sorak Biosphere Reserve provides a great diversity of habitats for the fauna, among them the red panda (Ailurus fulgens), the Tibetan bear (Ursus [=Selenarctos] thibetanos), the sable (Martes zibellina), the red-collared marten (M. flavigula), and the badger (Meles meles), which are considered rare in Korea, as is the musk deer (Moschus moschiferus parvipes). The leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis), the common lynx (Felis [=Lynx] lynx), the wolf (Canis lupus), and the wild boar (Sus scrofa) are cataloged as threatened animals. The Siberian goral (Nemorhaedus caudatus), a bovid the size of a goat and a native of Siberia and Manchuria, has been designated by the government as a natural monument. This species is becoming extinct in the Mount Sorak Biosphere Reserve.

Ninety-two species of birds have been observed, among them the black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius), the very rare Tristram's woodpecker (D. javensis), the nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocatactes), the Tristram's bunting (Emberiza tristrami), the marsh tit (Parus palustris), the tit varius (P. varius), the daurian redstar (Phoenicurus auroreus), and the black-faced bunting (Emberiza spodocephala), which nests in the mountains of the reserve. There are also 11 species of reptiles and 42 of amphibians, among which the rare red-collared toad (Bombina orientalis) and the Korean toad or muldukkobi (Bufo steginegeri) should be mentioned. Some 351 species of insects have been inventoried and 35 species of fish have been identified in the mountain rivers and lakes of the reserve.

Cultural heritage

The Mount Sorak region has a long cultural tradition and many legends. In the reserve there are some remarkable temples, such as Sinhung, built by the famous monk Chajang Yulsa during the reign of King Ahilla in the seventh century (a.d. 652). The temple, in a genuine Korean style, is located in a deciduous forest next to the Ssangch'on, which receives its waters from the slopes of Mount Sorak. It consists of half a dozen structures standing on columns painted red and yellow, surrounded by a garden planted by the monks. The temple has been restored and painted during the past years in such a manner that its appearance hides its real age. On the road leading to the temple, surrounded on all sides by high mountains, there is a small cemetery where the more illustrious monks are buried that keeps a collection of curious bell-shaped tombstones.

The Kyejo Sanctuary is a small temple dedicated to Sinhung, at the foot of a rock called Ulsambawi in a very attractive site. The temple continues under the rock into a natural cave that, through a candlelit path, leads to the altar in the innermost part. The temple of Paekdam was also built by Chajang Yulsa, mentioned above. Its present structure was rebuilt in 1957 after being burned during the 1950-1953 war. It is one of the highest sanctuaries in Korea and one of the major Buddhist sanctuaries of Nirvana, with relics of Buddha. Twelve percent of the total area of the country's national parks belong to Buddhist temples and are controlled by the Jogejong Korean Buddhist Order.

Management and problem-solving

Korea does not have a ministry or general directorate that deals exclusively with the management of protected areas. Instead, several ministries participate in such functions, depending on their respective jurisdictions. Since 1991, the Ministry of Construction undertakes the designation of national parks at the national, provincial, or local level. National parks management, including that of Mount Sorak, is the responsibility of one authority on national parks which depends on the Ministry of the Interior, which has four departments that encompass, respectively, planning, operations, administration, and services, and cooperates with 23 regional offices. The ecological natural areas and those protected for their flora and fauna are under the supervision of the Secretariat of the Environment.

The 1961 Forestry Law (ratified in 1980 and 1990) requires that forests be classified as protected or unprotected. Several categories of protected forests are described: those for the production of seeds, those for recreation, etc. The Forestry Law does not allow timber-cutting, grazing, or the gathering of forestry products without the approval of the provincial governor or the director of the regional forestry center. Forestry policies and planning are covered by a five-year socioeconomic development plan and a 10-year forestry development plan, both of which are promoted by the government. Among the activities encouraged by these plans are reforestation, forest repopulation, the isolation of certain areas to protect them from erosion, and the maintenance of ecological balance, among others. In the Mount Sorak Biosphere Reserve, all these criteria are put into practice. Many forest areas are private property. The Union of Forestry Associations, a government body, plays an important role in the execution of forestry programs, in Mount Sorak as in other sites in the country; its objective is to protect and manage private forests in an efficient manner and to improve the socioeconomic condition of its members, both forest owners and peasants.

Mount Sorak Biosphere Reserve is divided into several altitudinal zones. The high mountain areas are classified as natural preservation areas and it is absolutely forbidden to build within them or to alter them in any way whatsoever. The lower parts (49,297 acres [19,950 ha]) are classified as natural environment areas and reforestation is programmed for some of them. Most of the external zones of the inner core of the reserve have been modified by forestry exploitation, fires, grazing, and agriculture, and it is said that in some zones a secondary forest is developing, although there are not enough data to verify this. Moreover, in some small montane villages inside park limits agriculture and related activities are being carried out, for example the collection of plants for traditional medicine. More detailed field studies are needed, since the Korean MAB Committee still has not started an action plan for the reserve and until now it has not created a field observation center.

Management and problem-solving

Korea's rapid and intensive industrialization has produced air pollution and the destruction of natural ecosystems. The large number of visitors considerably alters some of the biosphere reserve zones due to the accumulation of waste, the illegal capture of animals, and the collection of plants and of minerals. A cable car that takes tourists up to Kweon-Kum-Sung has caused serious erosion near the upper station. Up to now there are no skiing facilities in the zones nearest Mount Sorak, but proposals to create them have been made.

The natural park of Plitvice Lakes, Croatia, is one of the numerous small protected areas of deciduous forests spread throughout Europe. From the time that the first inhabitants of this continent started to practice agriculture, large expanses of forest were cut and burned to convert them into agricultural land. The forest was, at the same time, an important source of resources, because humans depended on it to obtain part of their food and wood for fuel and house construction. As technology became more sophisticated, humans cleared larger and larger expanses of forest until only 5-10% of the tree cover was left in some areas. Europeans then discovered a new continent and the first colonists found great forests there that more than satisfied their needs and those of their countries of origin. American forests were exploited year after year until they were left as exhausted as those in the European continent. Much later, the introduction in industrialized countries of wood substitutes such as steel and plastics and the use of new types of fuel like oil somewhat diminished the pressure on European and North American forests. In Asia, on the other hand, the demand for building material and especially fuel continued to eliminate trees without respite. At present, temperate forests continue to shrink while humanity continues to grow without stopping, and the need for wood for construction, fuel, paper manufacture, and many other uses continues relentlessly. This is the reason that the establishment of natural parks and other protected areas is so important: to preserve the diversity of the deciduous forests and to ensure the continuity of their resources.

[Photo: Rafael Vela]

In winter, on the bare branches of the southern beeches (Nothofagus) of the Nahuel Huapi National Park in Argentina, the only greenery that can be seen is that of parasitic plants. Inside the 1.85 million acre (750,000 ha) park, the largest in the country, lives a protected representative sample of South American deciduous forests. But this spectacularly scenic park presents very diverse ecosystems. In the more rainy areas there are luxuriant forests, while in the drier areas the vegetation is steppe-like. Its fauna is also diverse and in the deciduous forests, besides the native fauna, there are several perfectly adapted introduced European species, such as the deer (Cervus elaphus) and the fallow deer (Dama dama). There are numerous rivers and lakes in the park, such as Lake Nahuel Huapi, 216 sq mi (560 sq km) in surface area.

[Photo: Gunter Ziesler / Bruce Coleman Collection]

In Bialowieza (Po-land), as in any other biosphere reserve, there is the intention of reconciling two needs of human society, needs that in the deciduous forest biome, with its old and intensive anthropogenic (hu-man) exploitation, often contrast: the preservation of national resources and the socioeconomic development of local populations. If these natural resources (water, soil, minerals, flora, fauna, air, etc.) are used in a sustainable manner, so as not to deplete them, they represent a life guarantee for future generations. To reach these objectives, biosphere reserves take into account all the environmental, cultural, and socio-economic variables of each specific area, and with research and experimental management create models for sustainable use of the land and natural resources, models that can later be applied to other areas with similar characteristics.

[Photo: J.L. Klein & M.L. Hubert/Bios/Still Pictures]

Biosphere reserves in deciduous forests, indicating the surface area of each and the year of its declaration as such. There are a total of 102 (1998), occupying an area of more than 37 million acres (15 million hectares).

[Drawing: Idem, taken from data of UNESCO's MAB Program]

Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina (USA), which looks very beautiful in June when the rhododendrons (Rhododendron) are in bloom, is part of a group of biosphere reserves in the Southern Appalachians. Vast deciduous forests, mixed forest groups, and some prairies and moors develop in this area, in the higher parts of the mountains. There is a large diversity in the fauna and flora. In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park alone there are 120 tree species, out of a total of 3,600 plants. As to the fauna, there are a total of 400 species of vertebrates, with 50 mammals, 200 birds, some 80 amphibians and reptiles, and 70 fish. Because of this, the area can be qualified as the largest biological microcosm in the United States, and Great Smoky Mountains Park is the most visited in the country.

[Photo: John Shaw / NHPA]

During the spring a Virginia tulip tree (Lirio-dendron tulipifera) and sugar maple (Acer saccharum) forest in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, on the border between Tennessee and North Carolina (USA), superimposes layers of green throughout its foliage. Deciduous tree species abound in this park. The most representative are the Fagaceae, with beeches (Fagus), chestnuts (Castanea), and 10 species of oaks (Quercus), but the complete list is much longer. The great forest mass that once formed the deciduous forest in this region has been reduced to separated and less important fragments, but 75% of the park's area is still considered to be pristine.

[Photo: John Shaw / Auscape International]

During the autumn the deciduous forests near Sugarlands, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (USA), display a landscape with beautiful colors where the different shades of the leaves facilitate the identification of the trees. The presence of large deciduous forests in these mountains is due to temperate and humid summers and mild winters. The average annual rainfall is 64 in (1,625 mm), although this figure alone is not representative because the difference between the amount of rain falling on the slopes and that falling on the top of the mountains can be considerable, sometimes exceeding 24 in (600 mm). Snowfalls are abundant, but only above 3,281 ft (1,000 m) does snow accumulate to any significant depth. Temperatures are never extreme and minimum temperatures for the coldest month are seldom below freezing. As with rainfall, the average annual temperatures can vary significantly bet-ween the valleys and peaks, where they can be 18OF (10OC) less.

[Photo: John Shaw / NHPA]

The American black bear (Ursus americanus) is one of the mammals inhabiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (USA). Originally it populated the forests of Alaska, Canada, and the United States down to New Mexico, but at present its distribution area is reduced to zones protected by humans, their major enemies at one time. They are omnivorous, sometimes taking advantage of the food the thousands of tourists visiting the park leave behind or give directly to them. As a matter of fact, the black bear is harmless, except if it is wounded or if it needs to protect its young. It has adapted very well to humans. It is easy to see, which makes it quite an attraction, although it can be a nuisance when it raids camping sites and demands food.

[Photo: Daniel J. Cox / Oxford Scientific Films]

Between April and May, the crested dwarf iris (Iris cristata), a small Iridaceae a little over 8 in (20 cm) high, displays a pretty deep purple flower at the end of its tall and slender stem. This is one of the eight species of lilies growing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is very rich in flowering herbaceous plants: it has more than 1,400 species. Apart from lilies (Iris, Lillium), there are rhododendrons (Rhododendron, see plate 244), violets (Viola), anemones (Anemone), orchids (Orchis, Cypripedium), gentians (Gentiana), and many other flowers that fill the undergrowth with colors and fragrances in spring.

[Photo: John Shaw / NHPA]

The buildings of the white colonists that settled on the Great Smoky Mountains (USA) from 1700 were made out of wood, the most available and abundant raw material. As shown on this detail of a log cabin in Cades Cove, logs fitted into each other perfectly by a system of grooves, thus consolidating the structure. In several areas of the Great Smoky Mountains in the middle of the nineteenth century there were already numerous self-reliant communities of colonists living off the land. Later on, in the early part of the twentieth century, several logging companies came to the area and bought great expanses of forest and started the systematic felling of trees to obtain wood especially destined for the construction of the burgeoning cities of the eastern seaboard. Almost two-thirds of the forest area were tilled mechanically, greatly damaging it, and rivers used for the transportation of the huge trunks of centenary (100-year-old) trees were also affected. Nevertheless, in 1923 the forest's surface area was vast enough to be considered the largest virgin forest in the east of the United States, moving a group of citizens to request that the zone be declared a national park, a motion granted in 1934.

[Photo John Shaw / NHPA]

Methodist Church in Cades Cove, in the Tennessee part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This church is a testament to the settlement of the first white colonists in the area. The reconstruction of their dwellings and the recovery of their history are the main subject of cultural interest offered to park visitors. But Europeans were not the first inhabitants of the region, because Cherokee Indians were already settled there when the Europeans arrived. These came into contact with the first white men in 1540 when the Spanish captain Hernando de Soto (c. 1496-1542) arrived searching for gold, but he did not settle in the region and left the Indians alone after many battles. The Cherokee were not bothered, either, by the rough trappers who arrived some 200 years later. The first conflicts between Indians and colonists did not start until the gold fever explosion, and were resolved when the United States government confiscated all Cherokee lands.

[Photo: John Shaw / NHPA]

The thick morning fog covering the Great Smoky Mountains gave rise to its name. The Cherokee Indians, the traditional inhabitants of the area, named the mountain chain "Mountains of Great Smoke," referring to the dense fog that often covers the forests and that is the result of intense water evaporation. As time went by, this proud people were practically annihilated and expelled from the region--also known as "The Place of the Blue Fog"--but the national park has kept the Cherokee name.

[Photo: John Shaw / NHPA]

Head of a European bison, the animal that has made it famous, adorning the entrance of the Bialowieza National Park, in the northeast of Poland at the border with Belarus. This is in effect the last refuge of this great European bovine, which in historical times still lived in a large part of Europe and surely in Asia. The old hunting lodge of Polish royalty, this part of the Bialowieza Forest that covers over 12,300 acres (5,000 ha) was declared a natural reserve in 1921 and a natural park in 1947. In 1976, it was recognized as a biosphere reserve and three years later as a World Heritage site.

[Photo: Darek Karp / NHPA]

In Bialowieza, forest areas alternate with wetlands and reedbeds as well as clearings by fire. This national park, also a biosphere reserve, is located within the great Bialowieza Forest, which with 309,000 acres (125,000 ha) constitutes the sole testament to a forest mass on the plain that in antiquity covered all of central Europe, from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Some 143,000 acres (58,000 ha) of this vast forest are in Poland and the rest, some 166,000 acres (67,000 ha), belongs to Belarus. One of the best preserved areas is the Bialowieza National Park, which has some fragments considered to represent a completely virgin deciduous forest. In no other place in Europe is it possible to find such diversity as exists in this forest, with some 950 species of phaner-ogams, 37 pteridophytes, 254 bryophytes, some 200 lichens, and more than 1,000 fungi. This great diversity is due to the transitional characteristics of the zone, between western Europe and the vast Eurasian plains.

[Photo: Adrian Arbib / Still Pictures]

The black stork (Ciconia nigra) is one of the most remarkable birds in the Bialowieza Biosphere Reserve. It nests in tall trees in open forest areas and searches for food (especially fish, but also amphibians, snakes, crabs, insects, and other animals) on the banks of the rivers, rapids, pools, and wetlands, but never goes near great bodies of water. It is a timid and solitary species that avoids forests that have too much activity--and above all, humans. By its completely black and shiny plumage, except on the belly, where it is white, it differs from the white stork (C. ciconia), which is somewhat larger and more sociable towards humans. As the male in the photograph shows, the neck and head feathers of the black stork often have very beautiful green and purple highlights. Even though the species is not considered endangered, the populations have greatly diminished, especially in western Europe, basically due to deforestation and hunting.

[Photo: Paul van Gaalen / Bruce Coleman Collection]

The European bison (Bison bonasus) has been reintroduced into Bialowieza. During the last centuries, as the European population increased and settlements multiplied, the bison's forest habitat was progressively exploited to take advantage of the wood or to use the land for agriculture, consequently degrading and fragmenting it. In the early twentieth century the only bison left in Europe were those in the Caucasus and in the Bialowieza Forest, the latter thanks to the two centuries of protection they enjoyed when the forest was declared a royal reserve. Outside the forest (and also within it during periods of war and famine), however, the bison never stopped being hunted, and in 1921 only a few individuals remained in zoos. A short time later, some Polish scientists started an international campaign to reintroduce the bison into the Bialowieza Forest. The reintroduction program started in 1929 with two females imported from Sweden and a male from Germany. In 1977, the reintroduced population had 193 bison, and in 1993 there were over 500 individuals. Twenty-five of these animals are kept separate in a breeding center within the park, should disease infect the wild population and should there be the need to reintroduce them once again. Many bison have been given to zoos or have been used to repopulate other European forests, from which they had also disappeared.

[Photo: Bomford & Borkowki / Survival Anglia / Oxford Scientific Films]

Leisure activities connected with hiking are usual in Bialowieza. Hikers may contemplate magnificent landscapes and exercise in a natural environment at the same time. Hiking, however, is very controlled and is only allowed on paths with clear signposts. The park assigns a trained guide to those groups of hikers or tourists who request it, and guided visits with traditional horse-drawn carriages are also organized. In addition, a park guide is required to visit the core area of the reserve. These norms must be followed rigorously if the area, which receives more than 100,000 visitors a year, is to be preserved.

[Photo: Andre Maslennikov / Still Pictures]

The mountainous landscape of the Cill Airne (Killarney) Biosphere Reserve, in Country Ciarrai (Kerry) in the extreme southwest of Ireland, was molded during the last glaciation. The ice dug very deep valleys, precipitous slopes, and numerous glacial cirques, transformed today into small lakes dispersed throughout the mountains. The Cill Airne deciduous forests are the few in the country saved from the ax. By the midnineteenth century, the need for wood to build houses and ships and for charcoal to fuel glass factories and iron foundries had resulted in the virtual disappearance of the dense forest masses that covered the island. Only 444,788 acres (180,000 ha) of forest are left on the island, comprising only about 2.5% of its surface area.

[Photo: Bob Gibbons / Ardea London]

The Irish spurge (Euphorbia hyberna) is the most common plant in the Cill Airne biosphere reserve in Ireland, as in the southwest of the island, but it is rare in the rest of Atlantic Europe. It is a perennial herb, with full dark green leaves of elliptic or oblong shape and a blunt or marginate tip. It grows up to 20-24 in (50-60 cm) and from April to July forms its yellow inflorescence (blossom), which will become a small capsular fruit of about 6 mm in diameter, with subglobulous and smooth brownish green seeds.

[Photo: Tim Shepherd / Oxford Scientific Films]

The presence of the epiphytic lichen Lobaria pulmonaria on rocks and trunks covered with moss in the deciduous forests of the Cill Airne (Ireland) Biosphere Reserve proves that these forests are old, humid, and well preserved, and that the air is pure, as this species does not tolerate pollution. L. pulmonaria, commonly called the pulmonaria lichen, is distinguished by its foliaceous thallus (leaflike nonvascular body), which forms large sheets loosely attached to the substrate, sometimes by only one point. They are lobed and on their upper sides are covered by a characteristic reticulum. The interreticular parts, in hollow concavities, look like lung alveoli, from which comes its Latin name. When the lichen is hydrated it has a dark green color, but as it starts to dry up it becomes brownish and takes on a parchment-like consistency.

[Photo: David Woodfall / NHPA]

The white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons) is a migratory Anatidae that spends the winter months in the temperate regions of Europe, America, and East Asia. The greatest numbers are found in eastern Scotland and especially in Ireland. Every year a group of some 40 individuals arrives at the Cill Airne Biosphere Reserve to spend the winter, and can be seen sweeping the lower peat bogs. When spring comes they take flight toward the tundra to reproduce, but return again in winter.

[Photo: Mark Hamblin / Oxford Scientific Films]

The merlin (Falco columbarius) dives towards its prey from the branch of a tree or from the air, at low altitude in the open fields. Its flight is irregular, gliding at times by opening its tail in the form of a fan to increase the support area, as the female in the photograph is doing. Its preferred prey are small birds taken in mid-flight, bats, dragonflies, locusts, and all sorts of insects. The young, less than a year old, often hunt for shrews and small rodents. The merlin also consumes dead animals left by other predators or hit by trains and cars.

[Photo: Dennis Green / Survival Anglia / Oxford Scientific Films]

The chough (Pyrrho-corax pyrrhocorax) is easy to observe on the cliffs of the Irish coast and on other rocky formations near the sea. The bird shown in the photograph was found on Great Saltee Island. With its shiny black plumage and deep red beak and feet, it is easily identifiable and can be differentiated from another crow of similar size that also lives in the area, the jackdaw (Corvus monedula). The chough is one of 124 birds that can be seen at the Cill Airne National Park, even though it does not nest there but in neighboring areas.

[Photo: Richard Packwood / Oxford Scientific Films]

The snow that piles up in winter in the rugged Mount Sorak massif in South Korea justifies the name of the third highest mountain in the country: sorak, which means snow-covered. The national park of the same name, created in 1970, occupies a mountainous area of more than 91,000 acres (37,000 ha) around Mount Sorak (5,604 ft [1,708 m] high). Impressive granitic rocks combine harmoniously with rapids, streams, waterfalls, and dense forest masses. Also famous for its Buddhist temples, the zone was declared a biosphere reserve in 1982.

[Photo: J. Reditt / The Hutchi-son Library]

Maples (Acer) blend with many other tree species in the mixed deciduous forests of South Korea, dominated by the serrate-leaf oak (Quercus serrata). The country lives under the influence of summer monsoons, with humidity and temperature conditions that allow the growth of a luxuriant vegetation despite the high altitude. Forests can become so dense that they are impenetrable and their botanical richness is exceptional. In Mount Sorak National Park somewhat fewer than 1,000 species of vascular plants have been cataloged, many of them endemic to the region.

[Photo: A. Warren / Ardea London]

The Heart of Mary (Dicentra spectabilis), a Fumariacae very well known as an ornamental plant, is native to East Asia, where at present it is considered an endangered species. One of the places where it still abounds is Mount Sorak National Park in South Korea. This is a tall plant, about 39 in (1 m) high, that in spring is covered with pink or rose-red hanging flowers in the shape of a heart. Although the cultivated plant is only appreciated for its flowers, it has a beautiful bluish green foliage, with tones of gray on the underside.

[Photo: A.P. Paterson / Ardea London]

The numerous remains of Buddhist culture that are preserved in the remotest forests of Mount Sorak in South Korea were taken into account for the creation of the national park due to their great historic, religious, and cultural interest. The well-restored Buddhist temples and chapels in the park not only attract visitors but also numerous pilgrims. During the golden age of Buddhism there were more than 100 Buddhist monasteries around the country, but during the Confucianist stage many were abandoned and some were burnt down. Despite this, at the beginning of the twentieth century there were still some 40 left in Mount Sorak Park. The photograph shows the interior courtyard of the Sinhung Zen temple.

[Photo: J. Reditt / The Hutchi-son Library]

267 A group of school-children enjoys the autumn weather at Mount Sorak National Park in South Korea. The park infrastructure can accommodate many groups and its paths are arranged so that visitors can contemplate the magnificent panoramic views over the valleys and peaks. Apart from promoting and making known the natural and cultural attractions of the area, the park also develops activities to improve its use, both from the tourist and the cultural point of view, and carries out seminars for its personnel. It also undertakes many activities related to the protection and management of the area and promotes studies on its natural resources.

[Photo: A. Warren / Ardea London]

intrusions of porphyritic quartz and other materials within the granite and the gneiss. Granite penetration occurred jointly with the forma
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Publication:Encyclopedia of the Biosphere
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2000
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