Amur-Heilong

Amur River

Amur-Heilong

Imagine a forest of pine and spruce, maple and oaks, a seemingly endless blanket of color in the fall. Now imagine that forest as home to the Amur tiger, the reclusive Amur leopard, flocks of Oriental white stork and red-crowned cranes, with waters full of the world’s largest salmon, the 150-pound Siberian taimen. That seemingly mystical place is the Amur-Heilong.

The Amur River — the longest undammed river in the Eastern Hemisphere — lies at the heart of the region. Surrounding the Amur River is a watershed of over 380 million acres — slightly larger than the state of Alaska. This basin is home to vast steppe grasslands, the unbroken taiga biome, and the most biologically diverse temperate forests in the world. A political boundary, the river separates the Russian Far East from China’s eastern Heilongjiang province. The headwaters of this great river are born near the sacred mountain of Burkan Khaldun in northeastern Mongolia. This landscape is the birthplace of Genghis Khan and to this day remains sacred to the people of Mongolia.

WWF – AmurHeilong Biodiversity

For an area lying far in the north between boreal and temperate realms, half covered by permafrost, the Amur Basin has surprisingly rich diversity of species. Since its large area is split between three countries and 15 terrestrial and 7 freshwater ecoregions no one has calculated so far the overall basin-wide taxonomic diversity. There are at least 6000 species of vascular plants, at least 600 bird species, and about 200 mammal species.

The Amur-Heilong supports a tremendous diversity of habitats, populated with species originating from the northern boreal, temperate and subtropical biomes. Boreal species from flora and fauna complexes of East Siberia meet here with Mongolian, Okhotsk-Beringian, Manchurian species, providing unique cases of coexistence when tropical lianas are embracing boreal conifers and northern anadromous Chum Salmon is staring at Chinese Soft-shelled turtle in Amur River main channel.