The "Description of Ecological Trails in the Urochishche Kukhmap Nature Preserve" Project


The International Children's Computer Camp (ICCC) is located on the territory of a unique nature preserve. The preserve is called the Pereslavl Governmental Nature-Historical Natural Park "Urochishche Kukhmar." Here, in a comparatively small area, coexist several types of forest ecosystems. We take advantage of this diversity and get to know the various characteristics of the plants and animals which live in these ecosystems. We try to find ecological trails through the woods which will allow us to see various types of forest ecosystems. The participants in the project catalog and describe the plants and animals which live along these trails.

The department of Biology and Ecology is working on the project "Description of Ecological Trails in the Urochishche Kukhmap Nature Preserve." The children act as trailblazers -- they decide themselves where to put the trails. They study the surroundings of the camp and decide where to place the main observation points of the trails, and then make an illustrated discription of the trails. The following types of activities make up the project:

Observation Points

The children taking part in the program have become familiar with the different types of forest that surround the camp. They then choose observation points to include on the trails. Then they find the shortest and most convenient route between the observation points. Each trail is about 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) long, and includes about seven observation points. The following characteristics describe the various ecosystems which are encountered on the trails:

  1. Pinetum fragariosum
  2. Pinetum myrtilliosum
  3. Picetum oxalidosum
  4. Tilietum cariceto-aegopodiosum
  5. Pinetum vaccinioso-sphagnosum
  6. Deschampsietum ranunculiosum
  7. Phargmetum sparganioso-scirpodiosum

Map of the Nature Preserve

The route of the trails is shown on the map by the lines with arrows. The trails connect the observation points. Observation points are marked on the map by a number in a circle.


Types of Diversity

Folowing the creation of the maps, we took the children along the trails. The children gathered over one hundred and fifty types of plant life and over fifty types of animal life (mostly invertibrate). The information that was collected was entered into a computer database.
The database about the plants which were collected on the trails contains the following information about each plant:

  1. Ecosystem in which it is found
  2. Russian name of the plant
  3. Latin name of the plant
  4. Family
  5. Group
  6. Expert estimate of its abundancy in the ecosystem in comparison with generally accepted abundancy charts
  7. Type of protection
  8. Practical uses of the plant

The animal database contains the following information:

  1. Ecosystem in which it is found
  2. Date
  3. Russian name of the animal 
  4. Biological group
  5. Biological class
  6. Food source
  7. Type of protection
  8. Expert estimate of the animal's frequency in its habitat

Shown above are the protected Makhaon butterfly, Papilia machaon L. and the Apatura ilia L. Recently the numbers of these butterflys have been declining, but here in the nature preserve they are still seen often.
Besides these butterflies, a lot of other rare and protected types of butterflies and moths live in the nature preserve.

This protected plant Dactylorhiza Nevski, is one of five northern types which is found in the Yaroslavl region. This plant can be seen at the sixth observation point on the ecological trail.

An example illustration of the description of an ecological trail.

This picture demonstrates the natural food chain of some soil-dwelling animals.

  1. Soil preditors (spiders, beetles)
  2. Soil-eating animals (ticks, mites, worms)
  3. Bacteria which fertilize the soil

This gray bird (Ardea cinerea) - is not spotted frequently in our region, and is included on the list of protected species of the Yaroslavl region. This bird can be seen at observation point two on the ecological trail.

This old pine tree (Pinus sylvestris) is in anunusual shape and grows near our camp. It is 1 meter in diameter, and about 3.5 meters in circumference. It's about 30 meters tall, and experts have deduced that it is about 150 years old.