Scientific studies at Repetek Reserve have started 15 years before its foundation
The history of Repetek State Biosphere Reserve started in 1912 when Repetek sand and desert scientific research station was opened in the central part of the Easter Karakums, 70 km the south from modern Turkmenabat with the support of famous geographer and botanist Pyotr Semyonov – Tyan-Shanskiy.
The fate of small station and reserve were closely related to the history of the region. In 1918, during the Civil War, the station was destroyed and only in 1925, natural protection and scientific research works were commenced there. The Reserve was established in 1937 under existing station and fulfilled the objectives for protection and study of natural dynamic of the main components of flora, fauna and desert landscapes as well as for restoration of unique saksaul forests.
In 1932, the library, which at the moment has more than 9 thousand scientific publications, was opened in Repetek Reserve. During the Great Patriotic War , many of studies were stopped and the reserve and the station were united in one scientific complex. In 1952, the final boundaries of natural protection territory were outlined.
V. V. Dokuchayev, the soil scientist who described new geological rock named “Repetek gypsum”, geologist and geographer V. A. Obruchev – the explorer of Siberia and Central Asia as well as the father of Russian genetics N. I. Vavilov was working in the reserve. Outstanding mineralogist A. G. Fersman, who discovered the deposits of sulphur ore in the Central Karakums, was a guest of the Reserve.
Scientific carriers of B. A. Fedarovich – the geomorphologist, the creator of wind theory of sand relief, A. G. Babayev – the founder of the Institute of Deserts, Flora and Fauna as well as geomorphologist S. V. Veyisov, the Director of the station and Reserve from 1964 to 1997 were related to Repetek. English traveller and writer D. Darrell, who made a movie about the nature and inhabitants of the desert, was visiting and working in the Reserve. Nikolai Nikolayevich Drozdov, who to the question “what’s your favourite season”, invariable answered “The Karakums. In the spring”, started his scientific work there.
In 1979, by the decision of International Coordination Council of the UNESCO Programme “Human and Biosphere” Repetek Reserve received the status of biosphere and was included to relative international network. Until our days, the main objective of the Reserve is the protection of fragile desert ecosystems as well as reproduction of the rarest species of animals in conditions close to natural. This year, the reserve is 90 and the station is 105 years old from the foundation. Personnel of the reserve continue the activities for protection of biological and genetic diversity by support of entire complex in natural condition, make scientific studies, support the training of personnel for natural protection sphere and carry out ecological and educational activity.
Repetek is a kingdom of natural world of the desert; one can see real forests of white and black saksaul, unique species of flora and fauna, which life conforms to adverse natural and climate conditions. This is one of the hottest place of our planet; however, it is full of life. 65 percent of all floristic variety of Karakum Desert is concentrated on the territory of the reserve and one third of them are original plantation of local fauna and six species are exclusively Karakum narrow-leafed endemics what is stipulated by the ancient nature of the central Asian deserts and active processes of speciation.
Repetek became the first natural protection zone on the territory of modern Turkmenistan some years ago and today there are nine state natural reserves. Their total area is around 900 thousand hectares. These are Kopetdag (with Meana-Chaacha and Guryhowdan Preserves), Hazar (with Ogurjaly Preserve), Syunt – Hasardag (with Syunt – Hasardag Preserve) Kaplankyr (with Sarakamysh and Shasenem Preserves), Amudarya (with Kelif Preserve), Koytendag (with Karlyuk, Hojapilsk, Hojaburjabelent and Hojagaragul Preserves), Badkhyz (with Kyzyljar, Pulhatyn and Chemenabit Preserves) and recently founded Bereketly Garagum Resereves.