Mixed forests of pine and deciduous broadleaf trees cover extensive, low-lying hills of northeast China and the Evreiskaya Autonomous Oblast of the Russian Far East. While some large forest tracts still remain in remote areas, logging has reduced forest cover in recent years.
Manchurian mixed forests occupy the low hills that extend from the northern Korean Peninsula into the Chinese provinces of Jilin and Liaoning and still further north into Heilongjiang and Amursky Province of the Russian Far East. This ecoregion encircles the broad river valleys of northeastern China, including the east slope of the Great Hinggan Mountains, the south and west slopes of the Small Hinggan Mountains, and the extensive lower elevation hill regions of the Changbai Mountains at the base of the Korean Peninsula.
Manchurian mixed forestsare distinguished by higher frequency of conifers compared to the deciduous forests to the south. Cooler temperatures northward cause a distinct change in the forest vegetation composition from mainly deciduous broadleaf to mainly coniferous species.
Forests at 500 to 1,000 m elevation include both coniferous and broadleaved species. Conifers include Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis), a straight-trunked pine species that may attain a height of 35 to 40 m. Fir (Abies holophylla), and spruce Picea obovata also occur here. P. obovata is a sibling species of Picea abies and is very widespread across northern Eurasia. Broadleaf deciduous (hardwood) species include oaks (Quercus mongolica), ash (Fraxinus mandshurica), Tilia amurensis, birch (Betula schmidtii), Manchurian elm (Ulmus laciniata), maple (Acer spp.), and Manchurian walnut (Juglans mandshurica). Shrubs consist of Manchurian filbert (Corylus mandshurica)and Lespedeza bicolor at lower elevations in the southern region. The dominant Korean-pine mixed forest type often includes large patches of vegetation representative of more northern plant communities. Thus the western slope of the Small Hinggan has distinctive coniferous swamp forest interspersed with meadows dominated by grasses and sedges. These forests are dominated by larch (Larix gmelini olgensis) which may grow through a lower story of birch (Betula japonica).
Forests on the east slope of the Great Hinggan Mountains have a somewhat different composition. Broadleaf trees include birch (Betula platyphylla), poplar (Populus spp.), willow (Salix rorida)and Mongolian oak (Quercus mongolica). Conifer forests, dominated by Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) occur in sandier places.
Several rare mammals inhabit this ecoregion: Siberian (or Amur) tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), sable (Martes zibellina), Sika deer (Cervus nippon), and leopard (Panthera pardus). The ecoregion supports other large mammals such as lynx (Lynx lynx), musk deer (Moschus moschiferus), red deer (Cervus elaphus), black bear (Selenarctos thibetanus), brown bear (Ursus arctos) and goral (Nemorhaedus goral). Common fish species are found in Amur-Heilong tributaries, including taimen (Hucho taimen), which can reach up to 50 kg, Manchurian trout (Brachymystax lenok), and Amur grayling (Thymallus grubei). The commercial fisheries potential of these species has been over-exploited but the tourism (fly fishing) market has not been developed. The latter industry could well be the key to restoration of the fishery. Larch forest swamps –(the largest intact wetlands in North China), with secretive Hooded Crane (Grus monacha) nesting populations, occupy large areas in the upper and middle reaches of mountain rivers in the Small Hinggan Mountains .
The mountainous part of Khingansky Zapovednik and Khingano-Arkharinsky Zakaznik in Amursky Province, and Bastak Zapovednik in Jewish Autonomous Oblast are good examples of this habitat type in this ecoregion in Russia. In China Fenglin, Wuyilin, Xinqing and Da Zhanhe Wetland nature reserves in Small Hinggan Mountains and Wanqin Nature Reserve in the Laoyelin mountains also support stands of Manchurian mixed forest. Hinggan Gorge of Amur-Heilong River is an important migration corridor between the Russian and Chinese parts of the ecoregion. Here a network of province-level nature reserves is being established on both sides: Taipingou NR in China, Dichun and Pompeevka protected areas in Russia. (See Hinggan Gorges case study).
View from Nature Monument - "Bizhan River Rock outcrop". Evreiskaya Autonomy. (Photo by E.Egidarev)