Heads of national parks meet in Khakassia

Heads of national parks meet in Khakassia

29 August 2013

On August 28, the first all-Russian conference for nature reserve and national park heads opened in Khakassia. Over 200 people, including the heads and deputy heads of specially protected natural areas and the representatives of non-governmental environmental organisations, gathered in the Gladenkaya ski complex not far from Sayanogorsk.


The meeting focused on the development of educational and cognitive tourism in specially protected natural areas of federal significance, which include 102 state nature reserves, 45 national parks and 70 nature sanctuaries of federal significance.


The nature reserves helped to rescue bisons, sables, beavers, snow leopards, Amur leopards and other animals from extinction. Many programmes to conserve endangered species have been implemented with the support of the Russian Geographical Society. For example, the society supports a programme designed to study and monitor the snow leopard  (Uncia) population in the Sayano-Shushensky Nature Reserve.


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Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoy delivers a speech during the opening ceremony.


Sergei Donskoy: This event is an unusual forum. This is the largest meeting of specially protected natural area heads in the history of nature conservation in Russia. For the first time, this meeting is bringing together so many people who are responsible for nature reserve development.


The Russian Ecological Doctrine places the establishment of protected areas on various levels and modes among the primary lines of state environmental policy. The system of specially protected natural areas was established in 1916 and it will soon celebrate its 100th anniversary. The establishment of this system is one of the most significant environmental achievements of our country.


It should be mentioned that the network of protected natural areas of federal significance has expanded. In this way, the total area of federal protected natural areas has grown considerably; since 1992, 28 new reserves, 28 national parks and nine nature reserves of federal significance have opened and the territories of 24 nature sanctuaries and one national park have been expanded. Thus the total territory of federal protected natural areas have increased by over 80% during this period of time. By 2020, 11 new reserves, 16 national parks and one federal nature sanctuary are scheduled to open and 12 specially protected natural areas will expand their territories. Experience in recent decades reveals the advantages and drawbacks of the existing system. The Concept of Specially Protected Natural Area Development until 2020 developed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and approved by the Government on December 22, 2011 takes into account either. For the first time in Russia, the document related to nature conservation has been adopted on such a high level. However, the Ministry is well informed about unresolved problems.


The Government has introduced significant amendments to legislation related to specially protected natural areas, which stipulate additional economic mechanisms to support reserves and national parks. The State Duma has passed a bill in the first reading that will toughen the managerial responsibility for violating the regime of these reserves and will extend the authorities of nature reserve and national park inspectors.


The real interest of the country’s leaders in the nature reserve system is a positive trend in recent years. The President and Prime Minister have visited a number of nature reserves and national parks. Afterwards, President Vladimir Putin held meetings on nature conservation, and steps were taken to increase inspectors’ salaries, new nature reserves were opened and the scope of funding has increased. This year, we finance forest management fieldwork in 42 reserves and national parks. This is the first practice of this kind since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.


Actively used modern technology makes it possible not only to observe rare species with the assistance of photo traps, radio-labelling and satellite tracking, but also to use solar batteries and wind generator in the reserves. I want to mention that many nature reserve managers use the Internet actively. They are opening websites providing full information about their activity, creating professional communities, broadcasting online and some bloggers have started writing about nature reserves.


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The event will last until August 31 and include roundtable discussions and workshops for environmental organisation workers.