Summer in 'My District': feed fallow deer, take part in 'forest quest' and visit a tour of the nature reserve

Summer in 'My District': feed fallow deer, take part in 'forest quest' and visit a tour of the nature reserve
Photo by: mos.ru. Maxim Denisov
Several Moscow parks have ecological and educational centres daily delivering lectures, interactive classes, tours and other events united by respect for nature theme.

The total area of protected natural territories of Moscow exceeds 17,000 ha. Mospriroda protects and maintains 122 parks, nature reserves and nature monuments, preserving diversity of landscapes and rare flora and fauna. It is also engaged in environmental education and promotion of ecological culture among Muscovites. Read in mos.ru article about parks to find environmental educational centres, experimental apiaries and eco-trails, participate in hikes in the woods or become a character of a themed quest.

Moskvoretsky Park

Moskvoretsky Natural and Historical Park unites several grounds in Moskva River valley: Stroginskaya Poima (floodplain), Troitse-Lykovo, Stroginsky and Shchukinsky peninsulas, Serebryany Bor, Serebryanoborskoye Forestry and Rublyovsky Forest, green area of Karamyshevskaya Embankment, Mnevnikovskaya and Krylatskaya floodplains, Krylatskiye Hills and Fili-Kuntsevsky Forest Park. It is the largest natural park in Moscow.

It houses two estate complexes — Kuntsevo and Fili-Pokrovskoye, as well as the Church of the Blessed Virgin in Krylatskoye and 'Alley of Life' in Kirovskaya Poima — the road along which a convoy with provisions drove to the besieged Leningrad during the Great Patriotic War, and historical monuments associated with this period. There is a 'Cedar Memorial Field' in Kyrivskaya Poima, too.

You may view all these landmarks during tours organised by Mospriroda. In addition, the Park holds open-air lectures on botany and quests dedicated to Moscow mammals.

On Tuesday, 13 August, 11:00 am till 12:00 pm, 12:00 pm till 01:00 pm and 02:00 pm till 03:00 pm, the Park will host lectures themed 'Tree Tier’ within 'Moscow Trees' series. On Friday, 16 August, at the same time, visitors will hear the series continued with lectures themed 'Oak-wood'.

On 14 August, 11:00 am till 12:00 pm and 02:00 pm till 03:00 pm, the Park will hold  'Resource Saving' quiz dedicated to separate waste collection and recycling. Also, on 15 August, 11:00 am till 12:00 pm and 12:00 pm till 01:00 pm, you may attend classes on the diversity of medicinal plants growing in Moskvoretsky Park.

Izmailovo Park

Izmailovo Forest Park is located in the eastern part of Moscow. It is one of the largest forests in Moscow, with its territory exceeding 1600 ha. There are floodplain meadows and lowlands areas preserved in Serebryanka River's valley.  The Park and the adjacent Serebryano-Vinogradny Pond with Izmailovsky Island occupy most of the former Royal Izmailovo estate, founded in the middle of the 17th century.

In those days there were 'marvellous gardens' arranged on the site, with Italian-style landscape structures, decorative towers, and a menagerie with lions, tigers, leopards, monkeys and exotic birds. Today, the Park has both 'terem' — Royal Apiary Eco-centre, and the 'menagerie' with cages. But it is only common owls and squirrels which reside there, not strange animals. And the Eco-centre houses an operating apiary. The bees living in the apiary help pollinate the plants of the natural historical park.

During the reign of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, present location of the Eco-centre and apiary housed Prosyansky Garden with fruit trees and bushes, and 'Tsar's apiary'. As for Izmailovo experimental apiary, it appeared on this site in 1864, initiated by the Imperial Russian Society of acclimatisation of animals and plants to study the biology of a bee family, educate amateur beekeepers and train professional staff. You can find out a lot about the apiary's history, learn the structure of hives, and watch the inhabitants of enclosures on 18 August, Sunday, on the 'Royal Apiary''s welcome day. Tours start at 12:00 pm, 01:00 pm and 02:00 pm.

Another ecological and educational centre, 'Stable Yard', is located in the southern part of Izmailovo, in Terletsky Forest Park renowned for its relic oak forest. Eco-centre has a small stable and enclosures for keeping farm animals. You are allowed to feed and pet them, but only during tours, under the supervision of Eco-centre's staff.

There are also other classes except those dedicated to pets: On 15 August, at 03:00 pm, attend a class dedicated to insects, on 17 August at 12:00 pm, take part in the class on mammals living in Moscow parks, and on 18 August, the same time, listen to the stories about amphibians.

Also, on 16 August, there will be a tour of Terletsky Park held, where you can learn about its sights and history. It starts at 02:00 pm, at the main entrance to the Park from Svobodny Prospekt.

Kuskovo Park

Another well-known forest park located in the East of Moscow is Kuskovo Park founded in 1935 on the grounds, which were once part of the same name Sheremetevs' estate. You may view here both the unique architectural ensemble of the 18th century, and artificial ponds — Big and Small Palace ponds, Lokasinsky, Sukhoi, Lesnoi, two Raduzhny ponds, Upper and Lower, as well as water channel overlooking the Palace.

The total area of the forest park is 310,500 ha. It has rare plants, including red-listed ones, such as the lily of the valley and a broad-leaved bell. The Park prides itself in old linden and oak trees. Some of them are aged 250.

Photo by: mos.ru. Maxim Denisov

In the building that was occupied by a rural school at the beginning of the 20th century, the ecological and educational centre opened in 2015. Kuskovo Eco-School boasts an interactive exhibition for visitors to make a virtual journey through Russian nature reserves. Its electronic stands will help study modern environment-related challenges and methods of their solution. Eco-school premises have equipped classrooms, environmental monitoring laboratory and a cinema hall for thematic presentations and films screening.

On 15, 22 and 29 August, the Eco-Centre will host a series of art workshops aimed at environmental education of schoolchildren. Classes start at 04:00 pm. Educational centre invites 10+ school students to attend eco-theatre, a drama club where participants create and direct productions related to the environmental protection. The next classes will be held on 16, 23 and 30 August at 12:00 pm.

Kuzminki-Lyublino

Kuzminki-Lyublino natural and historical park includes Lyublino and Vlakhernskoye-Kuzminki estates,  recreation and entertainment park and Kuzminsky Forest Park. In 15th–17th centuries, these lands belonged to Simonov and Nikolo-Ugreshsky monasteries, and since the beginning of the 18th century they were owned by Grigory Stroganov, who received these lands as payment for his faithful service to Peter the Great. In 1720, the Church of Vlakhernskaya Icon of the Mother of God was built here, after which the estate was named. Its grounds house over 20 architectural monuments, including a greenhouse, Palace wings, cattle and stable yards, music and Egyptian pavilions.

In 2014, the so-called Petrovsky oak, planted in Kuzminki in the second half of the 18th century, received the status of a 'tree, a monument of nature'. In total, there are several hundred species of plants in the forest park, including 78 species of trees and shrubs and about 20 species of rare herbaceous plants red-listed in Moscow, such as Solomon's seal, snow-white water lily and Fischer carnation.

Park also has endangered birds — long-tailed tit, Raven, red-backed shrike, river warbler, kestrel, long-eared owl, northern goshawk and others. In just five years of bird-watching, over 70 species of birds have been registered. Kuzminki Park boasts also hares, hedgehogs, rodents, weasels and about seven species of mammals.

Learn more about the estate's history and park's nature taking advantage of free bike tours. The next guided walks will be arranged on 15, 22 and 29 August. The tour group meets at 02:30 pm till 03:00 pm next to 10 Kuzminskaya Street.

Children aged 4 to 12 are welcome to attend the 'Miller Kuzma's Green School' club. Children will learn to grow plants and take care of them, participate in handicraft workshops and tours, and conduct scientific experiments under the guidance of experienced teachers. Classes will be held on 13, 14, 15, 20, 22, 27 and 29 August at 11:00 am.

Bitsevsky Forest

Bitsevsky Forest is the first Russian natural park initiated by residents of adjacent Moscow areas. The park covers 2188,7 ha. It is located in the South-Eastern part of the Teplostanskaya Hill, the most elevated area significantly towering over the surrounding grounds.

By animal species diversity, Bitsevsky Forest is now second only to the Losiny Ostrov National Park. It is home to 133 species of terrestrial vertebrates, including 28 species of mammals and 96 species of birds, 86 of which nest in the same area. You may encounter hares, ermines and weasels, muskrats and bats, watch how goshawks and kestrels hunt.

Bitsevsky Forest Natural and Historical Park includes also 14 protected natural areas: four hydrological monuments of nature, one entomological one, two landscape ones, seven botanical and dendrological ones. 2,4 km historical eco-trail has been arranged in the southern part of the forest.  It passes through the forest to the South of Yasenevskaya Alley. It has special signs for easy navigation.  Information on the stands along the trail introduces to specific features of the area, the species of plants and birds found here, the hydraulic system of the park and its nature monuments. There are three environmental and  education centres operating in Bitsevsky Forest.

Ecological and educational centre 'Forest Fairy Tale' display developed in collaboration with children psychologists creates the effect of presence in the forest: visitors listen to bird voices, feel forest smells, watch its inhabitants on electronic stands, guess the animals on their tracks in a special 'glade', and even conduct independent excavations in the 'archaeological sandbox'. Tours of the interactive Museum are held throughout August, daily from 09:00 am till 04:00 pm. on 16 August, at 02:00 pm, the centre offers a tour  'Take a walk with a biologist' to visit the Museum and take a walk along forest's ecotrail.

On 17 August, the World Stray Animals Day, Bitsevsky Forest Eco-centre will host a lecture and a discussion concerning the issue of stray animals in Moscow. Its participants will discuss how animals become homeless, how to avoid it and to help dogs and cats if there is no possibility to take them home from the shelter. It starts at 12:00 pm. At the same time, the 'Birdhouse' Eco-centre will provide an opportunity to show your knowledge of amazing capabilities of pets and pet care tips in the 'Pets' quiz.

On 18 August, at 11:00 am, the  'Bitsevsky Forest' Eco-centre invites young wildlife lovers to watch ecology-themed cartoons. At 12:30 pm, children over 7 and their parents are welcome to visit the tour 'Trees as viewed by our ancestors'. During a walk through the park, you will hear stories about various trees the ancient Slavs identified creatures and deities with, and which tree is considered a symbol of Russia. And on Tuesdays, 13, 20 and 27 August, the Eco-centre will host workshops on animal coal drawing. It starts at 11:00 am.

The 'Birdhouse' Eco-centre will host a 'Photo-Bitsa' master class to show how to photograph animals in their natural habitat. It starts on 18 August at 11:30 am. And on the last day of August, before the start of the school year, school-age children are invited to take part in the 'Remember Summer' quest. They will be tasked to find puzzles about animals and plants hidden in the forest, and collect the pieces of a victorious key word.

Setun River Valley

Setun is the right tributary of the Moskva River. Its length in the city bounds is 38 km, on 17 km of which a nature reserve Setun River Valley, the largest natural reserve in Moscow, has been created. The area covering 698 ha stretches along the river bed, which, unlike other Moscow rivers, flows in natural banks.

The reserve houses three estates. In addition to the buildings dating back to the 17th–18th centuries, it features extant cultural monuments — the remains of ancient burials, including Matveyevskoye settlement, which existed in the pre-Mongol period, with its extant burial mound, and Davydkovsky burial.

The reserve boasts a diversity of its flora and fauna: in recent years, the reserve has registered 631 species of plants, 47 of which are rare for Moscow region, as well as over 90 species of birds, 20 species of mammals and 5 species of amphibians.

On 15 August, Mospriroda will hold events to find out more about plants growing in the reserve: at 11:00 am, Setun River Valley will host the wild flowers festival, and at 12:00 pm, visitors are welcome to participate in a tour of the valley, dedicated to its flora.

Bonus: 'Fallow Deer House' open-air complex in Zelenograd

The aviary complex arranged in 2015 in the Kryukovsky Forest Park, has become in four years one of the most visited places in Zelenograd Administrative Area. The area of the complex covers 1,2 ha. Here you can both watch its main inhabitants, European fallow deer, and also walk around the apothecary garden, climb to the observation deck, see farm animals — rabbits, chickens, ducks, guinea fowls and turkeys also living in enclosures in the warm season. And, surely, you are welcome to participate in tours and quests.

On 12 August, at 12:00 pm, and on 15 August at 02:30 pm, the aviary complex will offer a tour 'Introduction to the world of animals', with inhabitants of enclosures as its central figures. On 16, 23 and 30 August, at 03:00 pm, enjoy eco-related readings 'Tales under the pine'. Its participants will listen to the works of Russian and foreign authors dedicated to nature.

On 19-20 August, at 11:00 am, 'Fallow Deer House' invites to take part in the interactive programme 'Savior of the Honey, Apple and Nut Feast Day' (Orthodox feast). Its participants will enjoy an insightful quest dedicated to Russian traditional festivities, absorbing eco games and quizzes.