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Hiking the Kremenec             Stužica Virgin Forest         Eastern Carpathian Biosphere Reserve


East Carpathian Biosphere Reserve



"Biosphere reserves are sites established by countries to promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable development based on local community efforts and sound science... Biosphere reserves are nominated by national governments for international recognition under UNESCO's Mand and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme."


The following material is excerpts from tourist brochures from the Biosphere Reserve.  They were collected in 2006 by Michael Habler.


Brochure Contents

  1. East Carpathian Biosphere Reserve

  2. Cestovny ruch a Turistka  - Tourist Routes

  3. Lud a Kultura - Local Culture

  4. Polnohospodarstvo - Agriculture

  5. Lesne Hospodarstvo - Forest Lands

  6. Neziva Priroda - Mineral Springs

  7. Zivocisstvo - Zoology

  8. Rastlinstvo - Botany



View of the reserve from Slovakia



This reserve which covers a border shared by Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine, is formed by the combination of three national parks.  The spot where these three nations meet is called Kremenec and can be reached only by foot.  It is the only extant designated trilateral biosphere reserve in Europe.




Poland Slovakia Ukraine
Bukovske Vrchy Natural Reserve (of Poland)

Bieszczady National Park

29,200 Hectares

Národný Park POLONINY

(Poloniny National Park)

29,805 Hectares

created 1997

Uzhanski National Nature Park

39, 159 Hectares

Table: The Three Parts of the Reserve




1. Chranena Krajinna Oblast, Biospherika Rezervacia VYCHODNE KARPATY  - East Carpathian Biosphere Reserve

Ing. Terray Jan, Steve Schipe, Foto: Pcola Stefan

The Vychodne Karpaty Protected Landscape Area was established in 1977.  The most valuable part of this area forms the basis of the Vychodne Karpaty Biosphere Reserve.  It was created in 1993 and covers an area of 40,061 hectares.  Together with areas across the border in Poland and Ukraine, a unique tri-national Biosphere Reserve was created.

The Bukovske vrchy hills, in which the biosphere is located, are built of flysch rocks, sandstone, and claystone. 

The average annual temperatures vary from 4-8 C and the average annual precipitation varies from 800 to 1000 mm. 

From the phytogeographic standpoint, the territory belongs to the East Carpathian floral region.  So far, approximately 1000 species of higher plants have been recorded here, including 14 species endemic to the Carpathians and 14 Balkan-Eastern Carpathian species. 

To the present day, 457 species of mushrooms, 208 lichens and 300 mosses have been identified in the Reserve.  Of special value to the territory are the rare virgin forest communities of beech and mixed fir and beech. 

More than 1500 species of invertebrates have been recorded here, as have 292 species of vertebrates – of which 184 species are protected.  Typical residents of the forests of the Biosphere Reserve are the wolf, European brown bear and Ural owl.

 Settlement in the area was greatly influenced by the Walachian Colonization.  Dating from the 18th century are several rare, sacred buildings – wooden churches in Ulicske Krive, Rusky Potok and Topola.

Economic life is, for the most part, tied to forestry and agricultural work.


2. Cestovny ruch a Turistka  - Tourist Routes

Ing. Terray Jan, Steve Shipe, Foto: Pcola Stefan


The district of Humenne offers relatively good conditions for the development of recreation and tourism.  Worth of mention are the Andrassi Manor-house in Humenne, the Rollov Manor-house in Snina, the Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art in Medzilaborce and the museum of Folk Architecture in Humenne. 

Sporting, tourism and other activities are to be found at the recreation centers of Danova and Snina rybnik (pools.)  Winter sports activities are available at Danova, Borov,  and Parihuzovce.

The Vychodne Karpaty Biosphere Reserve offers a 40,601 hectare complex of natural landscape and cultural-historical values. 

Statue of Hercules at the Manor House in Humenne

Wooden Church ("Cirkev") at Topola

Eastern Orthodox wooden churches are located in the villages of Ulicske Krive, Rusky Potok and Topola.

The water reservoir Starina, which provides a source of drinking water, is a large technical work.

The main type of recreation in the Biosphere Reserve is active recreation-walking the trails in the area. 

The point of entry for recreation and tourism in the Vychodne Karpaty Biosphere Reserve is the town of Snina and its environs where accommodations, food and other services are available.

3. Lud a Kultura - Local Culture

Ing. Bural Miroslav, Ing. Terray Jan, Steve Shipe

Foto: Pcola Stefan

The origins of permanent settlement of the Biosphere Reserve began sometime in the 15th and 16th centuries with the advent of the Walachian Colonization which had a major influence on the original inhabitants, the Ruthenians.  The major occupation of the inhabitants was shepherding and farming.  The Eastern Slavic ethnic group, to which the Ruthenians belong, had their ethnic identify reflected in their architecture.  Houses were wood, “log cabins.”  The oldest consisting only of one room, were divided into more rooms.  Roofs were straw.  In other farm buildings, (barns, stables, etc.) was typically found a hayloft, “oboroh.”  The most valuable architectural landmarks are the wooden churches, “cerkiv”, with rare iconographic decorations in the interiors.  In the Biosphere today, four “wooden churches can be found.    At the present time there are ten villages in the Biosphere Reserve.  Seven more were removed during the 1970’s and 1890’s as a result of the construction of the water Reservoir Starina.


4. Polnohospodarstvo - Agriculture

Ing. Platko Juraj, Ing. Terray Jan, Steve Shipe, Foto: Pcola Stefan

Agricultural lands in the Vychodne Karpaty Biosphere Reserve consist of 6840,2 hectares, 15.6% of the total area.  They vary in elevation from 250 meters to 550 meters, with the main parts belonging to the mountain production areas.  Soil creating processes gave rise, for the most part, to cambisols.  Soil reactivity varies from acidic to very acidic.  The structure of the agricultural lands are mostly represented by permanent grasslands, of which 1505 hectares are meadows and 3816 hectares are pastures.  Arable land only accounts for 851 hectares.

In the past the economy consisted of raising farm animals and the production of fodder, primarily hay.   It was divided into a two part system.  One part of the area around the village was dedicated to the production of grains (caryna), the second to grazing (toloka.)  After a year the land laid fallow.

At the present time in the area of the Biosphere Reserve, there are two economic enterprises.  The first, LPM Ulic, is responsible for the economic management of the major portion of the agricultural lands in the Reserve.  State farm SM Stakcin is responsible for the lands in the vicinity of the water reservoir Starina, seven villages were removed.   As a result, these lands have taken on the character of permanent grasslands.  Work on these lands is now limited because they lie within the so-called Hygenic Zone which surrounds Starina.  All of the agricultural lands in the Biosphere reserve are within the Transition Zone (Zone C).

The small fields and meadows in proximity to the villages reflect the original character of the cultural landscape.

5. Lesne Hospodarstvo - Forest Lands

Ing. Gic Marian, Ing. Piros Milan, Ing. Terray Jan

Foto: Pcola, Stefan

Forests cover 32,183 hectares, (approximately 79,661 acres) of the Biosphere Reserve.  This is just over 79% of the total area of the Reserve (40,601 hectares).  They occur from the lowest to the highest elevations.

The dominant tree species is beech (Fagus sylvatica).  Other common species (silver fir, sycamore, Norway maple, oak, elm, etc.) do not account for any significant percentage of forest cover.

 Although the management of the forests has intensified over the past twenty years (including clear-cutting as a tool for forest regeneration), stands in this area are still among the most pristine in Slovakia.  Some of them are protected as state nature reserves (Stuzica, Rozok, Havesova).

6. Neziva Priroda - Mineral Springs

RNDr. Dzurovcin Ladislav CSc., Ing. Terray Jan, Steve Shipe, Foto: Pcola, Stefan

 The territory of the Biosphere Reserve forms in the easternmost part of the Eastern Carpathians in Slovakia, the Bukovske vrchy hills.  These have a highland of 1221 meters.  The entire area of the Biosphere Reserve is built of flysch rocks.  The territory belongs in large part to the cool climate.  Soils are represented for the most part by unsaturated cambisols and also by inceptisols.  In flood-plains are the fluvisols.  The calcareous areas of the flysch territory are represented with rendzinas.  The primary occurrence of groundwater is associated with the layers and crevices in the flysch strata.  They yield from 0.5 to 2 liters/second.  Greater yields are associated with the riverine plands – 10l/s, and in the areas associated with the products of weathering- 4l/s.  The territory of Vichodne Karapty Biosphere Reserve belongs to the Bodfog river watershed.  The northern part of territory forms at the same time part of the European divide.  The area of the east Slovakian flysch is mostly impervious with a shallow circulation  of groundwater.   A relatively large percentage of rainfall is discharged about 50 percent.  Rainwater quickly runs off, with high flow rates this leads to flooding, when low runoff the drying up of streambeds.  Much water is present as a result of the spring snowmelt, as also after heavy, short-term downpours.  The maximum flow rates attained in the last  100 years reached 230 cubic meters per second on the Cirocha river near Starina and 167 cubic meters/second on the Ulicka stream at Ulic.  The water quality in the territory is high.  As a result, the resource is used to supply drinking water – begin in 1987 with the completion of the water reservoir Starina.

 Sponsors, Pre-Chicko BR Vychodne Karpaty za financial podpory USIS, Peace Crops,and REC

Vychodkarpatsky omitologicky spolok Snina

7. Zivocisstvo - Zoology

Pcola Stevan, Ing., Terray Jan, Steve Shipe, Foto: Pcola Stefan, Jindro Vlach

From the zoogeographic standpoint, the territory of the Vychodne Karpaty Protected Landscape Area and the Biosphere Reserve is located in the Paleoartic biome, on the boundary between the western and eastern Carpathians.  More than 1500 species of invertebrates have 504 species of butterflies and 572 beetles.  Furthermore, 292 species of vertebrates occur here.  Included are: 1 lamprey, 19 fish, 13 amphibians, 8 reptiles, 192 birds and 53 mammals.  Protected species account for more than 30 species of invertebrates and 184 vertebrates.   Most of the protected specimens are birds.

 Of special importance to science and for protection purposes are the specimens which are endemic to the Eastern Carpathians.  For the most part, invertebrate species are associated with deciduous forest biotypes.  Some bird and mammal species live only in these original communities.  The main goal of nature protection specialists is to provide effective management for individual species to secure the the protection of the biotypes in which these animal species naturally occur.

8. Rastlinstvo - Botany

Ing. Bural Miroslav, Ing. Terray Jan, Steve Shipe, Foto: Pcola Stefan

 The Bukovske vrchy hills in which the Slovak part of the Vychodne Karpaty International Biosphere Reserve is located, is only area which belongs solely to the geo-botanical domain of the Eastern Carpathians.  The East Carpathian nature of the flora is fairly distinct and is relatively rich.  In an area of about 500 square kilometers,  approximately 1000 species of vascular plants have been recorded.  Of these, 22 taxa are considered critically endangered, 33 very endangered, 52 endangered and 22 rare to Slovakia.

 Sixty plant communities have so far been identified in the Bukovske vrchy hills of which 36 are common (e.g., Alnetum incanae, Luario-Aceretum, etc.)  Some are endemic to the Carpathians.  Quite a few plant-communities have their westernmost boundaries here (e.g., Dentario glandulosae-Fagetum ranuculetosum carpaticu, Helbro-Coryletum, Matteucio-Alnetum  incanae.)


 In order to protect typical forest communities, eight state nature reserves (SPR) and three protection units have been established.  Their total area covers 1365.05 hectares.  State reserves protect mainly beech, mixed beech-fir  and sycamore forests (Fagion and Tilio-Acerion) as communities of the Prunetalia division.  The situation is worse in the protection of Priulo veris-Carpinetum, Tilio-Carpetum forests and brushwood communities typical of river alluvia. 

Strict reserves also cover the areas of the most precious mountain swards, peat-bogs and grasslands (e.g., Cirsietum rivularis, Junco-Deschampsietum caespitoosae, Anthoxantho-Agrostietum tenuis.)  It is planned to create new reserves for the protection of stenothermal plant communities (e.g., Prunello lacinietae-Dorycniethum herbacel) and communities associated with riverbanks (e.g., Echio-Melilotetum albae.)



The entire area of the Polonina - the unique mountain grasslands characteristic of the Eastern Carpathians, is covered by state nature reserves (Plasa, Riaba Skala and Stuzica.)



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Last Update: 15 November 2020                                                    Copyright © 2003-2021, Bill Tarkulich