Andrei V. Ostroukhov, PhD, Senior Researcher of the Institute of Water and Ecology problems of Khabarovsk Federal Research Center of the Far Eastern Branch of RAS (56, Dikopoltsev St., Khabarovsk, 680000, Russia); e-mail:
Elena M. Klimina, PhD, Leading Researcher of the Institute of Water and Ecology problems of Khabarovsk Federal Research Center of the Far Eastern Branch of RAS (56, Dikopoltsev St., Khabarovsk, 680000, Russia); e-mail:
Viktoria A. Kuptsova, Researcher of the Institute of Water and Ecology problems of Khabarovsk Federal Research Center of the Far Eastern Branch of RAS (56, Dikopoltsev St., Khabarovsk, 680000, Russia); e-mail:

Reference to article

Ostroukhov A.V., Klimina E.M., Kuptsova V.A. 2020. Landscape mapping of hard-to-reach areas. A case study for the Bolonsky State Nature Reserve (Russia). Nature Conservation Research 5(2): 47–63.

Section Research articles

The system for monitoring the environmental state of Protected Areas should be based on landscape (geosystem) differentiation of an area represented by a number of landscape (geosystem) maps. Such a map shows combinations of interacting components and spatial elements of the natural environment as a single set. However, the development of such a cartographic basis for many Protected Areas in the Russian Far East and Siberia is a very labour-consuming process and it requires large investments due to a lack of knowledge and inaccessibility of such areas. The creation of a landscape map over relatively short time and maximally objectively is possible using methods for interpretation of aerial photos made by unmanned aerial vehicles (DJI Phantom 4) in combination with the Earth remote sensing data with a medium spatial resolution (Sentinel-2), field data and available literature sources. The Bolonsky State Nature Reserve (Khabarovsky Krai, Russia) was selected for this research. This area has an important international status. So, Lake Bolon and the mouths of the Selgon and Simmi rivers is Wetlands of International Importance; Lake Bolon is a Key Bird Area. The study of this area is difficult due to its location within the highly flooded and waterlogged northeastern part of the Middle Amur Lowland. During field studies in 2017–2018, we first studied the landscape structure of the Bolonsky State Nature Reserve. We created maps of relief types, vegetation classes and landscapes at the 1:100 000 scale. In addition, four key sites (scale of 1:5000) have been justified and described in detail as a «milestone» of spatio-temporal changes in wetland geosystems for long-term monitoring. Within the lowland aggraded plain, we have identified three subclasses of aggraded plains of alluvial, lacustrine and alluvial-lacustrine genesis with different combinations of meso- and microrelief. For 12 types of plant communities represented in the Bolonsky State Nature Reserve, their proportion was identified in the landscape structure of the Protected Area. There were larch and mixed larch-small-leaved forests, deciduous forests, small-leaved forests, forest-meadow, forest-wetland and floodplain complexes. For the first time, the paper describes in detail the plant associations of the mire and meadow-mire ecosystems occupying 80% of the area of the Bolonsky State Nature Reserve. On four key routes, a detailed descriptions of mire facies have been conducted using field research data and information from air photographic surveys using unmanned aerial vehicles. These data allowed us to obtain information about functioning of the ecosystems in the Bolonsky State Nature Reserve. The final map presented two types of one landscape class, which include 23 landtypes of the four terrene types. We showed that besides of natural factors, the geosystems of the Protected Area are affected significantly by wildfires having predominantly an anthropogenic origin. The data of Earth remote sensing obtained in 1996–2018 confirm the considerable effect of the wildfire influence on the landscapes of the Protected Area. At the same time, the obtained data indicate that post-fire successions have a high intensity being tended to restore the original status of geosystems. The Bolonsky State Nature Reserve has been affected by wildfires during more than 80 year. However, there are currently no data on the initial state of geosystems in the Protected Area. The comparison of the obtained results and data on the wetland development in the Middle Amur Lowland allowed us to consider the geosystems of this area as a unique «milestone» to study the wetland-developing processes in the south of the Far East.


air photographic survey, River Amur basin, Khabarovsky Krai, Earth remote sensing data, geo-information mapping, Russian Far East, unmanned aerial vehicle

Artice information

Received: 05.10.2019. Revised: 18.02.2020. Accepted: 17.03.2020.

The full text of the article

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