Climate and Location
The Voronezh State Nature Reserve is situated in the forest-steppe region, at the border between the Lipetsk and Voronezh Provinces. The Reserve was established in 1923 with the purpose to restore the beaver (Castor fiber) population, which was practically wiped out in its Eurasian distribution area at the beginning of the twentieth century. The area of the Reserve covers 310 km2. The geographical coordinates of the Reserve are 51.5 to 52.0°N and 39.2 to 39.5°E.
The Reserve is located on the border of the Atlantic continental with the continental climatic regions, and accordingly, its climate is of the moderate-continental type with a relatively hot summer and a relatively cold winter. Long-term observations at the Reserve’s weather station show that the average annual temperature is 5.6°C; the average temperature of July (the warmest month) is 19.5°C, and the average temperature of January (the coldest month) is minus 8.7°C. The average annual precipitation is 638 mm. Most of the precipitation occurs in June-July and it is lowest in February-March. The average height of the snow cover is 50.2 cm; snow lies on average during 122 days. The frost-free season averages 199 days and the vegetation season (with temperatures higher than 10°C) 152 days.
According to the temperature regime, the Reserve area belongs to the forest-steppe region, yet the values of the duration of the snow cover period, the thickness of the snow cover, and some other climatic parameters are more like that of the forest region.
The Reserve envelops the northern half of the Usmanskiy Pine (Pinus sylvestris) Forest, which is a large “island” of woody vegetation, situated between the Voronezh and Usman rivers at the western edge of the Oka-Don Plain.
The area is largely situated within the Voronezh River valley and includes the floodplain on the left side and the sandy terraces above the floodplain which were formed in the Quaternary. The thickness of the sand layer varies from 0.5 to 20 m in the Usmanskiy Forest and is up till 8 m in the Reserve. In these sands, there are clay and loam deposits that form waterproof horizons at different depths and these are crucial to retain moisture in these sandy soils. Arenosols and different variants of Podzols dominate.
The Reserve is situated in a highly developed and densely populated region. It is surrounded by settlements, the Reserve area is crossed by the trunk railway Voronezh – Moscow, and a high-voltage transmission line, and there is a ramified road network.