Kamchatka is famous for its volcanic activity which can be seen in the high number of active volcanoes, earthquakes and an abundance of different geothermal features, like geysers and geothermal springs.
Every hot spring is unique in its formation and chemical composition of the waters; Kamchatka hosts 236 clusters of hot springs! The warm waters are a popular destination on the peninsula: some spend days and weeks in the spas in Paratunka, others seek to soak in remote, so called wild springs.
Besides being wonderful and healthy recreational places, the surrounding of geothermal springs represent very special ecosystems. They are the home of some rare and even highly endangered plants. Some of those plants have adapted to the extreme conditions and grow only at hot springs and on soils as hot as 50 degrees Celsius!
Rising tourist numbers made it necessary to assess the impact on the hot springs plant communities. In our joint research team with scientists from the Geographic Institute in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, we investigate the impact of disturbance onto those plant communities. This will help to elaborate guidelines for sustainable tourism in order to preserve those unique places for future generations.
The article was posted with the permission from the author Lisa Strecker. Photos for the article were provided by Lisa Strecker.