Burabay’s Environmental Problems
At the end of the nineteenth century, the economic development of Burabay and the increase of its population inevitably led to unlimited exploitation of its natural resources. Excessive deforestation led to the formation of wastelands, which were used by pastoralists for grazing. These cattle were then supplied to the local cannery, which was very beneficial for both nomadic suppliers and butchers.
At this time, Borovoe was already well known as a resort area. Both sick and healthy people began to flock here, the presence of which did not have the best effect on the nature around. All this prompted the administration of the region to deal with the issues of limiting the use of the natural resources of the region. In this regard, it became necessary to put the forest areas back in order and improve communication towards visitors. The first step towards this was the formation of the state forestry in Borovoye in 1898. Putting the local forests in order greatly contributed to the establishment of the Forest School. The first forest inventory was carried out by the teachers and students of this school, and the norms and methods of forest management were established.
From that moment, attention to Borovoe increased from the side of the authorities and advocates of nature conservation. With the approval of the scientist V.V. Baryshevtsev a completely new stage in the social and scientific life of the region began. It was V.V. Baryshevtsev who came up with the idea of creating a nature reserve in Borovoe. But it became a reality only in 1935. The reserve “Borovoe” was created in the sanitorium resort area with significant settlements that already existed. This feature was reflected in its organization: the territory of the reserve was divided into a buffer zone, where settlements were concentrated, and into a zone of “reserve”, completely excluded from economic use.
Since the establishment of the reserve, its employees, in addition to protecting natural resources, began to conduct scientific research on the subsoil, soil, water, flora and fauna. The study of this complex, which constitutes the nature of Borovoye, began at the time of the settlement of the steppes of Northern Kazakhstan by Russian settlers. Then the baton was taken over by scientists of the twentieth century, both pre-revolutionary and Soviet.
Throughout the past century, the ecological state of the region depended has on human economic activity. However it had a negative impact on the water regime of the lakes and rivers of the resort area. So, over the past 35 years, the level of lakes in the region has fallen by 1.5-2 metres. Islands appeared on the lakes of Shchuchinskoye and Bolshoye Chebachye. The water receded hundreds of metres from the shore in places. The decrease in the depths of lakes, especially Karasu and Bolshoye Chebache due to their silting, the formation of copropel and irreversible volumes of water, caused changes in the temperature regime and general mineralisation of the water in them. This led to a disturbance in the water balance of the resort area and pollution of ground and surface waters.
In the 1930s, the Borovoe resort became an All-Union resort. People from all over the country came here to be treated and improve their health. Today, Burabay has ceased to be a resort in the broadest sense of the word. Of the remnants of the once developed system of medical institutions, only a few sanatoriums remain (Shchuchinsky, Okzhetpes, Almaz, Zeleny Bor), and some departmental health resorts (the Seifullin sanatorium).
Today the resort area is visited as a large entertainment complex. Companies and families from the cities come here mixed with romantics and students with their unpretentious plans to spend the weekend “in nature”. In addition, in the last decade, Burabay has become a fashionable venue for various kinds of conferences, summits, sports competitions and events (festivals of art song lovers and biker gatherings included).
All these factors have a negative impact on the state of the resort area. The impacts are widespread: 1) A colossal technogenic load on nature. In the vicinity of Burabay there are more than a hundred objects of tourism and recreation (boarding houses, sanatoriums, hotels, cafes, etc.). Each facility is supplied with a water supply, heating, sewage, and lighting systems. These communications are carried out in the soil, not only soil covers and layers are disturbed, but also aquifers feeding of lakes and streams; 2) Anthropogenic impact. The territory of Burabay is visited by about a million people each year (in both summer and winter seasons). Such a large number of vacationers provides good income. But tourism here is not organised well enough. After the visitors have departed, there are piles of garbage, broken trees, broken glass in the lakes, painted stones and rocks, and fires occasionally happen. Not to mention the huge number of vehicles. Employees of the Burabay National Natural Park simply cannot physically control such an influx of people; 3) The state of the lakes. Everyone knows that Burabay lakes are getting shallower. This was reported as early as the beginning of the 20th century. Scientists insist on the need to clean the bottom of the lakes, on which silt is deposited and clogs the sources that feed these lakes. It is not known whether this is the case or the lowering of the lake level is just a natural phenomenon that occurs over a period of several hundred years, as in the case of the Caspian. Or maybe this is the result of human activity (for example, the exorbitant consumption of water in the 1960s for the industrial enterprises of the city of Shchuchinsk), but some kind of decision needs to be made. Otherwise, Borovoy is threatened by the picture that Professor S.S. Golubinsky painted back in 1940: “… the processes of drying up of the lakes will go forward rapidly, the bare mountains will lose their attractiveness with all the negative consequences. At the same time, the meaning of being a resort, sanatoriums and rest houses will be lost, and the existence of the Borovoe Reserve will already be aimless.