Russia to create new national parks and reserves nearly size of Switzerland



Posted on 06 July 2010  | 
Polar bears, walruses, sea otters, and other endangered species are all set to benefit from a Russian decision to boost its national protected areas to nearly 3 percent of its territory by 2020, a move which helps the country to meet its international obligations to protect biodiversity.

The Russian government’s decision establishes 9 new nature reserves and 13 national parks covering a total area of over 3.8 million ha by 2020. Russia is also introducing marine buffer zones of over 1 million ha.

“For the first time, development of protected areas in Russia will be based on the analysis of all available data on biological diversity of Russia”, said Vladimir Krever, WWF-Russia biodiversity coordinator.

“The creation of protected areas is crucial to save Russia’s diverse and unique biodiversity,” he added.

An existing 9 reserves and 1 national park will see their areas increased by 500 thousand ha.
The decision was based on an analysis of WWF in cooperation with The Nature Coservancy and MAVA Foundation, carried out between 2006-2008, and is aimed at fulfilling Russia’s commitment under the Convention on Biodiversity to establish effective protected area systems that safeguard biodiversity.

The UN has declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity, culminating in October at the 10th Conference of the Parties in Nagoya. WWF is calling on governments in Nagoya to adopt a clear roadmap and allocate additional financing to halt biodiversity loss by 2020.

Stopping the loss of the planet’s biodiversity should be given the highest priority by governments because it is the foundation for human life providing food, medicine and clean water as well as reducing the impact of natural disasters and climate change. Natural habitats and species underpin the global economy and directly supports billions of people who dependent on forests, fisheries and wetlands for their livelihoods.

In 2002 governments pledged to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010 but despite individual conservation successes, such as in Russia, governments have not met their commitment and biodiversity continues to be lost at alarming rates, international studies show.

“We need to understand that protecting biodiversity means not only protecting nature but also our economy and wellbeing. “ By allowing biodiversity loss to continue we are undermining our future ,” said Rolf Hogan, Biodiversity Manager at WWF International .

Over 300 experts provided original data for the analysis and took part in the discussion. On the basis of this data WWF assessed representativeness of the existing system of federal protected areas and worked out a framework for its further development.

As a result, WWF recommended the creation of 70 extra nature reserves and 71 national parks in Russia. Experience has shown that creating more than 2 federal protected areas a year is difficult, so implementation of WWF recommendations will be extended over a few decades. WWF through its members and corporate partners will raise funds to help the Ministry implement the framework.
Walruses crammed together on the Chutotka coast in far-eastern Russia
Walruses crammed together on the Chutotka coast in far-eastern Russia
© WWF Russia/Polar Bear Patrol/ V Kavry Enlarge
Map of existing and new protected areas.
Map of existing and new protected areas.
© WWF Enlarge

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