Ecological characteristics: The Reserve is situated in the lower part of the Volga delta, along the northern shore of the Caspian Sea. This largest inland delta in Europe is predominantly a freshwater riverine wetland complex with numerous channels, creeks and alluvial islands and the fore-delta freshwater wetlands. Riverine forests dominated by Salix alba and S. triandra; grasslands dominated by Phragmites australis and Typha angustifolia; permanently flooded fore-delta areas covered by emergent vegetation such as Phragmites australis, Typha angustifolia, Sparganium erectum, floating species such as Trapa natans, Nymphoides peltata and Nuphar lutea, and submerged vegetation such as Potamogeton pectinatus, Vallisneria spiralis, Ceratophyllum demersum. A particular feature is the presence of lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) – a common species of the tropics - which here finds its northernmost limit of distribution. The Volga delta and particularly the territories of the Reserve comprise one of the richest bird habitat and nesting areas in the World. Over 280 bird species occur here. The Reserve is almost unequalled in the World in abundance and diversity of fish (over 56 species). Fish can be divided into migratory, semi-migratory, freshwater and Caspian Sea complexes categories. There are also 33 species of mammals inhabit the Reserve’s territory.

Declaration date: 1984

Surface area: Total 98917 ha

Core areas: 67917 ha

Buffer zones: 31000 ha

Transition areas: not defined - in addition to existing 336961 ha

Administrative division: Astrakhanskaya oblast

Human activities: Regulation of water flow upstream of the Volga River for the production of hydroelectricity has resulted in reducing the volume and duration of spring flooding and fish spawning areas. Poaching of fish, birds and mammals. Burning of vegetation in adjacent areas.

Protection classifications: State nature reserve (Zapovednik)

Contact information: Astrakhanskiy Biosphere Reserve, 119, Naberezhnaya Reki Tsarev, Astrakhan, 414021 Russia. Tel./fax: +7 8512 301764, E-mail: