All chapters:



Waters and water management

Ecosystems and ecoregions

Species diversity and use of biological resources

Nature conservation: econet and protected areas

Countries & cultures


Land use

International policy

Nature conservation: econet and protected areas
Land-use policies along the border as conservation tool
Related maps, pictures, links

The Amur-Heilong River itself demarcates a several thousand kilometer border between China and Russia, and the sharp international contrasts in population density, land-use patterns, and cultures between those two countries.  For centuries the lands along the border have been disputed.  In both China and Russia the Amur-Heilong basin is located at the remote margin of a large centralized state, and subject to little attention from administrators in the capital cities.  Remote locations, harsh climates, and often tense border relations are all factors that have contributed to preserving the basin’s natural values.
Not unlike the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, the Russia-China border area has been a de-facto protected area for the past 40 years.  Borderlands were protected by Soviet frontier guards who restricted access to the wide “border zone” and fully closed areas immediately adjacent to the border line.  In China the policies were historically more liberal and population pressure more acute.  However, even in China, the border areas still contain much larger tracts of wilderness than other localities in the basin. 
The Border areas of the Amur-Heilong are patrolled by armed officers, respected by locals, and encompass natural ecosystems covering several million hectares.  In recent years, military protection has deteriorated due to declining funding and increasingly vague objectives.  As relations improve and protection weakens, the border area has experienced pressure from both Russian and Chinese populations.  The no-man’s-land between countries is frequently used, primarily by Chinese villagers, for stream poisoning to capture frogs and small fish for sale in local markets, snaring wild deer and boar, collection of edible and medicinal plants.  This type of encroachment was non-existent in earlier years when the military patrols were more obvious and threatening.
It is critical to ensure that policies provide for long-term conservation and sustainable use of these “green buffers” along the international borders. Given that the Russian Border Guard Service has already been assigned an important role in protecting aquatic biological resources (preventing illegal fishing, for example) and in China nature conservation is a relatively high concern for provincial authorities, establishment of such policies is practical when both sides agree on approaches to implementation.  In China, the provincial agencies, including Heilongjiang Forestry Department, have already agreed that the management of some military areas will be delegated to the related nature reserves once the troops are reassigned.  
If the situation along the border continues toward less control, the impressive band of nature reserves being established along the border in China could quickly become degraded.  This is because these PAs are typically only parts of much larger contiguous habitats that are protected in the patrolled strip on the Russia side of the border.  The China PAs are connected with the Russian border zone by species migrations and movements, hydrology, and other natural processes.  Ironically, a driving force for degradation of biodiversity in the border zone would be trade liberalization between China and Russia.

Evening on Argun River (Photo by E.Simonov)


Protected areas of Eurasia

Protected areas and human footprint

Major protected areas of Amur-Heilong

Vegetation map

Terrrestrial ecoregions

Global 200 Ecoregions

Freshwater ecoregions

Upper Ussury –Lake Khanka.

Khanka Lake international nature reserve

Small Hinggan transboundary area (Manchurian forests ecoregion)

Dauria Steppe Global 200 ecoregion

Detailed hydrography of Amur River basin

Wetlands of Amur



Barbwire Scenery

Protected areas in Russia

Protected areas in China

Protected areas in Mongolia

Three gorges of the dragon river

Introductory tour of Amur basin

Ussury forests

Small Hinggan


Daurian steppe

Amur meadows and wetlands – Amur midflow

Khanka Lake and Upper Ussury Wetlands


GIS: Ecological network

GIS: Administrative borders


Also look:

Protected areas in Amur-Heilong River basin:

Protected areas coverage in Amur River Basin

Protected areas types in Russia, Mongolia, China

Russian protected areas

Mongolian protected areas

China nature reserves

Protected areas planning

Cooperation between nature reserves


Econet-ecological networks:

WWF Vision for Amur-Heilong Conservation

Wetland conservation

Grassland conservation and migratory wildlife

Selected Amur-Heilong protected areass and proposed fields of cooperation (Table)

Major wetland regions of the Amur-Heilong River basin ( Table )

Ecological Network for Amur: The Amur-Heilong Green Belt Concept


Model areas for transboundary conservation:

Dauria international Protected Area-DIPA

Middle Amur –Sanjiang wetlands

Khanka –Ussury wetlands and forests

Small Hinggan Mountains-Three Gorges of Dragon River

Land of the Leopard


Full contents
Full digest
Full atlas
All pictures