UHOLSKO-SHYROKOLUZHANSKYI PROTECTED MASSIF
It is located on the southern slopes of the Krasna mountain pasture and its powerful offspur of the Menchil mountain pasture, at an altitude of 400 - 1280 m.a.s.l. The total area of the protected territory is 15580 ha. The geological basis of the massif is formed by the adjourments of limestone and paleogenic periods - powerful layers of flysch, in the structure of which prevail argillites, aleurolites and less often sandstones. The southern part of Uholske forestry is located on the northern zone of rocks. The typical feature of this area is the availability of large limestone blocks (klippes) with the well-advanced karst. A lot of various karst forms, in particular caves (more than 30), are represented here. The largest cave of the Ukrainian Carpathians - "Druzhba" /”Friendship”/ with the total passages’ length of more than one kilometre, and also the unique natural bridge, known under the name of Kamyaniy /Stone/, or Karst - are located in the massif’s territory. The late-palaeolithic site of the primitive man was found in the cave "Molochniy kamin" /”Milky Stone”/. The limestone rocks, with the height of seventy meters, are very original geomorphological formations.
The highest summits of the protected massif are: Uholska Plesha (1108 m), Pohanska Kichera (1092 m), Vydnozhanska Kichera (1072 m), Vezha (937 m).
The powerful ridge protects the massif from northern winds - the prevailing winds are of the western compass points. The climate of the region is warm, moderate and damp in the foot-hills, cool and very damp in the upland area. According to the data of Uholka meteostation (470 m.a.s.l.), the monthly average temperature of January is 4.5 degrees below zero, July - 17.2 degrees, the average annual temperature - 7.1 degrees. The average annual amount of precipitation is 1390 mm.
The light-brown medium loam powerful soils were formed in the lower part of Uholsko-Shyrokoluzhanskyi massif, higher - dark-brown forest soils. The break-stone soils were formed in the limestones, and in the river valleys - sod soils, sometimes gley soils.
The massif is located in the beech forests zone, with the prevailing zonal beech forests, and forming at an altitude of 1200 - 1300 m the upper forest line The fragments of elfine wood with Duschekia viridis are found higher, mainly in hollows. In the optimum ecological conditions, the species of beech is marked by the high vitality and form highly productive plantations with a stock of timber, that is more than 600 cu.m. per ha. The communities of Taxeto-Fagetum and Juniperetum sabinae, which are unique for the Carpathians, are preserved in the limestone golets (ledges). Such relict phytocenosises as Quercetum petreae, Fageto-Tilietum platiphyllae, Piceetum abietis and Betuletum pendulae are also represented here.
More than 550 plant species constitute the massif’s flora. Its main nucleus is formed by the unmoral, boreal and mountain species. The limestone ridge (more than 200 species) is characterized by the largest floristic richness, where grow such species as: Cotoneaster integerrimus, Juniperus sabina (sole habitat in the Ukrainian Carpathians), Quercus petrea, Rhamnus cathartica, Tilia platyphillos, Taxus baccata (about 1,5 th. individuals); and among herbaceous plants - petrophytes and such alpine species as Campanula carpatica, Cephalanthera rubra, Coronilla elegans, Cortusa matthioli, Iris pseudocyperus, Jovibarba preissiana, Saxifraga paniculata, Scabiosa lucida, Sedum hispanicum. There is also a number of unmoral and arid species - Arum alpinum, Corallorhiza trifida, Epipogium aphyllum, Erythronipm dens-canis, Ophyoglossum vulgatum, Viola dacica and others.
Fauna of beech virgin forests is very peculiar. The following "taiga" species as lynx, Ural owl (Strix uralencis), great black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius), bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula), and also species, which are typical for the broad-leaved forests, are found here. They are represented by blackbird (Turdus merula), middle spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius), white-backed woodpecker (D. Leucotos) and grey-headed woodpecker (Picus canus), collared flycatcher (Ficedulla albicollis), hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes), stock dove (Columba oenas), common dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius), wild cat, wild boar, salamander. The species of red deer, pine-marten, common redbacked vole (Clethrionomys glareolus), buzzard (Buteo buteo), nuthatch (Sitta europaea), common frog, which are widely spread in the whole forest zone of the Carpathians, are typical for the massif’s territory.
Among rare species, entered into the Red Data Book of Ukraine, the following animal species are marked: Mediterranean water shrew (Neomys anomalus), stoat (Mustella erminea), otter (Lutra lutra), eagle owl (Bubo bubo), black stork (Ciconia nigra), Aesculapian snake, Carpathian triton and others. The only river of the reserve, where the Red Data Book huchen (Hucho hucho) goes on spawning, is Luzhanka.
Fauna of cheiroptera is very diverse, mainly connected with the karst caves. There are 19 species of cheiroptera, 8 from which refer to rare. They are: greater horseshoe bat and lesser horseshoe bat, barbastelle, Schreibers' bat (Miniopterus schreibersi), Geoffroy's bat (Myotis emarginatus), Natterer’s bat (M. nattereri) and Leisler's bat (Nyctalus leisleri). In winter, the congestion of bats in underground refuges numbers about one thousand and a half individuals, the main part of which is formed by large mouse-eared bat (Myotic myotis) and lesser mouse-eared bat (M. blythi). More than 800 animals, belonging to 13 species, hibernate only in the cave "Druzhba".
The insects are represented by typical mesophillous middle-European species. Among them are such rare species as: Osmoderma eremita, stag beetle (Lucanus ceryus), alpine capricorn beetle (Rosalia alpina), great capricorn beetle (Cerambyx cerdo), clouded Apollo (Parnassius mnemosinae) and others. The unique fauna of evertebrates-troglobionts is marked in Uholka karst caves. There is a number of very endemic species among them, in particular Duvalius transcarpaticus (Carabidae, Coleoptera).