National parks are set up on the territory of national complexes that are of special ecological and aesthetic values. Any activity that brings harm to natural complexes, plant and animal life is forbidden on this territory.
Pribaikalsky National Park of Nature was founded on the western shore of Lake Baikal in 1986. The protected territory of narrow line adjoining to the shore (from 1 to 8 km wide) stretches for 360 km. Olkhon Island is a part of its territory. The total area of the park is 418 thousand hectares. The integral natural orographic complex is represented by various taiga and steppe landscapes. By its protected area, it is the fifth largest national park in Russia. The park also protects historical and cultural riches. Rock carvings brought to the cliff Sagan-Zaba world's fame. Their age is 2.5 thousand years. On the territory of the park there are 51 objects having the status of national monuments. The flora of the park is represented by about 700 species of vascular plants, over 350 species of moos and 300 species of lichen. The category of rare and endangered species is represented by 76 species of plants among which 20 are under special protection at the federal level. On the territory of the park there are 4 species of amphibiotic, 5 species of reptiles, 272 species of birds and 59 species of mammals. 75 species of animals are entered in the Red Book of Russia and in the book "Rare Animals of Irkutsk Oblast". The dead-end part of the Round Baikal Railway from port Baikal to settlement Kultuk that adjoins to the park but does not belong to its territory can be of significant value for the national park.
Zabaikalsky National Park of Nature (269 thousand hectares) was founded in 1986. The territory of the park includes the southern range of the Barguzin Ridges, Svyatoy Nos Peninsula, Chivyrkuysky Bay and lacustrine swamp isthmus. The flora of the park consists of over 700 species of vascular plants, and the fauna is represented by 291 species of land invertebrates among which 49 animals are entered in the Red Books of Russia and Republic of Вшуап'а.
Preserves are the most effective form of nature protection. They aim at serving as a model of virgin or well-preserved nature and as a place of studying natural processes and phenomena. Any economic activity that interferes with natural development of nature is forbidden.
Barguzinsky State Biosphere Natural Preserve was established in 1916. Its main goal was to restore the number and reproduction of sable. The preserve is situated in the central part of western slopes of the Barguzin Ridge on the northeastern shore of Lake Baikal. It occupies 374,4 thousand hectares of land and water area. Its flora is represented by 886 species of higher plants, while fauna by 41 species of mammals, 274 species of
birds, 6 species of reptiles, 2 species of Amphibia, and about 50 species offish. The territory of the preserve belongs to the World Heritage Sites in accordance with UNESCO Convention. This preserve has succeeded in its activity: the sable was introduced into many regions; its
number was restored and currently commercial sable hunting is being performed. Here one can see the animals living only in Pribaikalye - Barguzin sable, Baikal brown bear, and Baikal seal.
Baikalsky State Biosphere Natural Preserve was organized in 1969; its area is 165.7 thousand hectares on the southeastern shore of Lake Baikal. According to the UNESCO Convention, it is included in the List of World Heritage Sites. This preserve is multifunctional, the scientific aim of which is to study and preserve the virgin state of mountain taiga complex of the Khamar-Daban Ridge. There is no access to the lake. The flora is represented by about 800 species of higher plants and fauna by 37 species of mammals and 260 species of birds. The vast boggy areas on the territory of the preserve are the places of mass habitat of waterfowl. They are of international importance.
Baikalo-Lensky State Preserve was founded in 1986; its territory is 660 thousand hectares and stretches along the shore of Lake Baikal for about 110 km. It is situated in the southern part of the Baikal Ridge, partially in the basin of Lake Baikal and partially in the Lena River basin. The scientific aim of the preserve is to study and preserve natural complexes of Baikal shores, Baikal Ridge and of the upper reaches of the Lena River. Over 850 species of vascular plants, as well as 250 species of lichen and 170 species of moos grow in the preserve. The animal kingdom of specially protected territory is represented by 2 species of Amphibia, 4 species of reptiles, about 50 species of mammals, and over 250 species of birds. The peculiar diversity of near-water birds is observed during seasonal migrations. Natural complexes of the preserve are almost in their virgin state. Due to their difficulty of access, they are not affected by economic activity. The study and conservation of brown bear of the preserve is of special attention. They are so many that not without reason the coastal territory of the preserve is called "the shores of brown bears". Recently three special routes for tourists have been organized in the preserve.