Relic Vegetation of Cape Martyan Reserve

There are few coastal nature reserves in Ukraine which hold greater value than the Cape Martyan Reserve. Situated near the city of Yalta, this valuable reserve was established in 1973 and encompasses some 240 hectares of land. This vast natural area falls under the authority of the Ukrainian Academy of Agrarian Sciences. It is also situated near the Nikita Botanical Gardens, which is where most of the scientific research on plants is conducted in Ukraine. Thus it plays a major role in the study and protection of plants native to this region.

A part of the age-old Krym mountains, the Cape Martyan Reserve is home to some incredibly old vegetation. Sometimes referred to as ‘relic vegetation’, one can often find individual oak and juniper trees that are roughly 600 years old here. However, the majority of trees currently found in the fir, oak-juniper and oak forests that characterize the region are roughly 200 to 300 years old. This still makes them an impressive sight to see and helps one to understand just why it was decided that this area should become a protected natural habitat. Of course the fact that it is an excellent example of a coast-aquatic ecosystem was also a determining factor.

The Cape Martyan Reserve in Ukraine is located in the South Crimean coast. The reserve’s association with the Nikita Botanical Gardens has enabled scientists to identify more than 500 different plant species in the area. Of these, only fourteen are truly native to the region. The reserve is also home to the largest population of strawberry tree microcarpous in the entire Crimea, featuring as many as 3000 different individuals of this unusual species. The three main ‘relic vegetation’ species found in the Cape Martyan Reserve are juniper trees, strawberry trees and lizard orchids. All these species are heavily protected and listed in the Red Book of Ukraine. Animal lovers will want to keep an eye out for the fifteen different species of mammal found in the reserve – eleven of which are also listed in the Red Book. These include the Crimean gecko and the leopard wood snake. Bird lovers will delight in identifying as many as 150 different bird species.

The reserve also incorporates a part of the Black Sea, which is home to roughly 50 different species of fish and gives the reserve an extra-special edge. It is easy to see why the Cape Martyan Reserve is such a popular attraction. So visit this small part of Crimean paradise and discover the many ancient natural treasures of Ukraine.

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