11 January is the Day of Nature Reserves and National Parks in Russia. The tradition was founded in 1997 by the Centre for Wildlife Conservation and the World Wildlife Fund. There are now 13 000 specially protected natural areas in Russia. The most important of them – 105 state nature reserves, 52 national parks, and 57 federal sanctuaries – constitute the list of protected areas of Russia. Among them is VSU’s nature reserve, Galichya Gora. It is the only nature reserve in the Russian education and research system, and VSU is proud of it. All the researchers working at the reserve are highly qualified professionals. They are dedicated to their work and do their best to preserve the unique natural complex and study its ecosystem.
The history of the Galichya Gora reserve goes back to 1925. First, it was a part of the Yelets local history museum. In 1936, Galichya Gora was handed over to Voronezh State University. Since then, the flora and fauna of the area have been extensively studied. For 80 years now VSU’s botanists, zoologists and geologists have been studying the area and its inhabitants. Since 1975, the researchers working at the reserve have been collecting and analysing data that allows them to make forecasts of how the climate, flora, and fauna of the area is going to change.
The reserve is also a great education facility, as a lot of students of VSU and other Voronezh universities come here to study. It also actively collaborates with schools and kindergartens: the researchers give lectures, organise workshops, and give guided tours of the reserve. Every year the researchers working at the reserve take part in international conservation events, such as "Park Movement” or “Europark”, aimed at promoting the ideas of environmental protection, making people aware of the role of nature reserves and other protected areas in protecting flora and fauna, and encouraging people, children in particular, to take an active part in conserving our natural environment.
One of the unique features of Galichya Gora is that it is a home for rare and endangered species of carnivorous birds – graceful, strong, and gorgeous creatures. The nursery for carnivorous birds was opened in 1990 by a research fellow, Petr Dudin. The birds from the Galichya Gora nursery are well-known not only in Russia but also abroad. For example, in February 2014, in United Arab Emirates a saker falcon, which had been bred in the nursery for carnivorous birds at Voronezh State University’s Galichya Gora nature reserve, took first place in the international falcon championship organised by the Department of Tourism and Commercial Marketing of Dubai. In 2017, the reserve began selling falcons to Morocco, Quatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
Galichya Gora is a unique facility, both from the cultural and environmental points of view.