The IBA is located in the Glubokovsky district of the East Kazakhstan region within the frontier zone of Eastern Kazakhstan very close to the interstate border. The site represents a fragment of the mountainous taiga zone of the central part of the Western Altai State Nature Reserve and is situated 35 km to the north-east of the district centre of Ridler and approximately 15 km in the same direction from Poperechnoye, the nearest point of population.
The intermontane valley occupies part of the Western Altai highlands’ subdivision bordering the Russian portion of the Central Altai mountain region. The area also lies in the coniferous forest zone and, because of the mountainous relief, there is a veryical arrangement of the site's major natural complexes. The valley itself is represented by the slightly southward sloping plateau which covers the full length of the upper reaches of the important local rivers Belaya (White) and Chyornaya (Black) Ubas which drain south-westwards, and the eastern flowing Barsuk river to the point of its confluence with the river Bolshoy (Big) Tursugun. The site also includes the extremities of three converging mountain ranges: Ivanovsky, Kholzun (2,598 m asl – max) and Lineisky (c.2,000 m asl). Raised montane bogs are the major landscape feature of the core area of the valley. The largest bog, called “Gulbische” (The Spot of Revelry), is situated at 1,870 m asl and occupies a 4-5 km stretch of the Barsuk river, up to 800 m in width. The eastern part of the site, covering the watershed areas of the aforementioned ranges, is covered by conglomerations of large boulders of grey granite. Larch (Larix sibirica) and Siberian cedar (Pinus sibirica) coniferous forest occur as rather sparse belts along the whole expanse of the valley. Glades often contain varying size stands of Dwarf Birch (Betula rotundifolia). All interspersed plots devoid of woody vegetation are covered by rich herbage and motley grass compositions typical of the sub-alpine and alpine zones. The woody elements of the tundra’s floral complexes consist of a scattering of dwarf willows and birches.
Beside its rich ecological potential, important for the support of a diverse avifauna, the “Paradise Valley” is distinguished by presence of unique patches of forest and picturesque landscape with a weird natural beauty which explains the site's vernacular name. At the eastern extremity of the Lineisky range lies "The Stony Legend", a bizarre granite formation. The paramount object of note, however, is the group of Siberian cedar on the slopes of the Lineisky Range, which are judged to be well over one thousand years old.
The site’s relative remoteness, combined with the exceptional diversity of biotopes, means that the area supports an extraordinarily rich composition of plant and animal communities.
The site has a very diverse avifauna because of the abundance of biotopes present - a complex mixture of riverine deciduous forest; dark coniferous forests (consisted either of Pinus sibirica and Larix sibirica, or Picea sibiica and Larix); strict Pinus sibirica stands; sub-alpine and alpine meadows; and montane tundra. This combination supports approximately 109 breeding species. An important feature of the avifauna is the juxtaposition of breeding populations from several biogeographical zones, with the Boreal forest representing the main element. This section of the Western Altai also has special ornithological interest for the whole of Eurasia due to the convergence of breeding populations of several wader species: Eudromius morrinellus, Gallinago gallinago, Capella solitaria, Capella megala and Capella stenura. Galliformes include small but sustainable populations of the following game species: Lagopus lagopus brevirostris, Lagopus mutus Sserebrovski, Tetrao urogallus, Tetrao tetrix and Bonasa bonasia. National Red Data Book species include Tetraogallus altaicus, Ciconia nigra, Capella solitaria, Aquila chrysaetos, Falco cherrug, Falco peregrinus and Bubo bubo. Several montane and boreal species are of national interest on account of the limited knowledge of their biology and distribution in Kazakhstan. This assemblage includes Capella stenura, Capella solitaria, Circus cyaneus, Locustella certhiola, Pyrrhula cineracea, Carpodacus roseus, Loxia curvirostra, Acanthis flammea, Lanius cristatus, Leucosticte nemorcola, Leucosticte arctoa, Tarsinger cyanurus, Parus cinctus and Phylloscopus fuscata. The system of wetland biotopes comprising of bogs and moist shores of lakes and streams support breeding Tringa ochropus, Tringa hypoleucos and Cinclus cinclus. The wet meadows have breeding Capella megala, Crex crex and Coturnix coturnix. The scree and bare cliffs have typical highland species including Monticola saxatilis, Prunella atrogularis, Prunella himalayana, Leucosticte nemorcola, Apus pacificus, Phoenicurus ochruros and Phylloscopus griseola.
Non-bird biodiversity: The mammal fauna comprises 50 species, including shrews, Mountain hare, Rabbit, 20 rodent species (including the endemic Rodent-mole), Bear, Wolf, Stoat, Weasel, Siberian weasel, Polecat, Siberian sable, Glutton, Lynx, Roe deer, Musk deer, Siberian deer, European elk, and others.
More than 500 species of higher vascular plants have been found. The ground between the stands of coniferous forest are covered by a diverse and colourful association of alpine herbage and grasses or by dwarf scrub of ground birch (Betula rotundifolia). Large areas of bilberry (Vaccinium) are not uncommon. But the most important features of the flora are the stands of Siberian cedar and Larch, over several hundred years old, with one stand of cedars exceeding one thousand years old.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The main threats affecting the site are fires and extreme weather conditions.
The IBA is part of the Zapadno-Altaisky (Western Altai) State Nature Reserve (Zapovednik). At present, as part of the "Zhasyl El" State Programme, there is a project underway for enlarging the area of the Reserve by an additional 30,345 ha. This expansion will include the upper reaches of the Gromatukha river, part of the north-western ridge of the Ulbinsky mountain range and a fragment of the north-western area of the river Kamenushka. This expansion is expected to produce a considerable reduction in human disturbance and direct persecution of species.
Habitat and land use
The site is a Nature Protection facility.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Paradise Valley mountain plateau. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 23/01/2022.