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The Velikoanadolsk Forest Museum

The Velikoanadolsk Forest Museum is a Department of the Donetsk Regional Museum. It is located in the building of a former meteorological observatory built in 1852 on the order of the brother of emperor Nicholas. It is situated in a picturesque location, within the national park „Wielikoanadolskii Lies”, 75 kilometres South-West from Donetsk.

In the middle of the 19th Century, intense agricultural activity have been proceeded in the vast terrains of the steppe and, under the influence of the climate, those territories suffered an erosion disastrous enough for the authorities to initiate an experiment. The experiment was to select appropriate types of trees and shrubs that could not only be planted in the steppe, but also, planted in lines along the fields, would stop the erosion of the fertile layers of the soil. The initiator of the experimental forest was Wiktor Graff, a nobleman, imperial officer, who arrived from Petersburg in the middle of the 19th Century, on the order of the Forest Department of Russia. Various types of trees, of which the most numerous were pine, oak and ash. The successors of Graff have been introducing new species and conducted research on the steppe flora, on the adjustment of various types of plants that did not occur in the region before, to the local conditions. The research has been conducted in the subjects of soil science, geology, hydrology etc. The forest survived the revolution period, Great Patriotic War and it has been under care from the 40s to the 60s of the 20th Century. Graff's estate, next to the observatory, has been preserved until today. Unfortunately, the museum did not manage to acquire that building, it was sold and becomes a ruin.

In the late 19th Century, a School of Forestry, nowadays the Technical School of Forestry, which belongs to the oldest institutions of that kind in East Ukraine, was created in the forest. A small dendrological park, where such unique species as the American tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) or the Maidenhair Tree (Gingko biloba) may be seen.

In 1974, a national park based on the forest was created. 618 species of flora exist within the park, of which 37 are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (e.g.: Arum orientale) and animals, typical for the mixed forests of the central Europe. Unfortunately, the terrains, which could have be a protective buffer zone, are not in the range of the park. The consequence of this fact is, e.g.: that the fields in the forest's neighbourhood are being cultivated intensively, with use of strong chemical substances, which does not favour the protected terrain.

In 1991, a new Museum Department, in which the souvenirs of the founder, the reports, the photos, the plans of terrain development, and documents of the foresters are exhibited, was open. The specimens of fauna and flora, originally existing here or migrating to the territory are exhibited. Near to the main building of the museum at Graff's Alley, leading to the Technical School of Forestry, a statue from 1910, devoted to the founder of the forest complex, is located. What can also be found there are 20 anthropomorphic Kypchaks statues, which have been transported here, from the neighbouring places, for the last 150 years, 4 of which were installed in front of the building. Some of them are not in a good state and require conservation.
Near to the Technical School of Forestry, there is a park with broad-leaf and needle-leaf trees, as well as two groups of kurgans, of which one includes 7 and the other 15 embankments.