Director of WWF Russia suggested to the President of the Russian Federation to regulate tourism in nature reserves and national parks
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation Sergey Donskoi and the VRIO of the Head of the Republic of Buryatia Aleksei Tsydenov also gave a talk at the meeting.
According to Sergei Donskoy, the most important issues for Baikal are: the elimination of accumulated damage, the scheme for handling waste, the development of eco-friendly tourism, the operation of specially protected natural areas, the fight against poaching, and the protection and reproduction of forests.
In his speech the director of WWF Russia, Igor Chestin, announced the main environmental problems of our country, the solution of which requires the attention of the president and the participation of the Russian government.
"The development of tourism in specially protected natural areas is one of the acute issues. It is necessary to legislatively consolidate the development of different types of tourism for specially protected natural areas (PAs) with different regimes. For example, in the reserves you can only allow cognitive tourism, which does not require capital construction, road construction, power lines, deforestation; and diverge recreational tourism to other territories", says Igor Chestin, WWF Russia director.
In 2014, the President of the Russian Federation has already signed an Order No. Pr-210 for the Government of the Russian Federation, where it was required to draft a bill providing for "strengthening the legal regime of state nature reserves and national parks, including a ban on the seizure of land and forest sites located within these specially protected natural areas". WWF experts took an active part in preparing the provisions of the draft law. This instruction is still not fulfilled by the Government of the Russian Federation. Moreover, in 2016 the State Duma of the Russian Federation adopted amendments to the law "On Specially Protected Natural Territories", which legalized the possibility of capital construction and infrastructure development within the reserves through the creation of biosphere polygons inside the territories.
"The bill on the strengthening of legal regime of the PAs will help to protect the reserves from being developed and turning into resorts", says Igor Chestin. “When the law is adopted, the issues of settlements’ functioning within the boundaries of PAs will be relieved, including those problems that Alexey Tsydenov, the representative of the Republic of Buryatia mentioned at today's meeting with the president, but the bill has already been waiting for two years for the second reading. It was proposed at the meeting with the president to instruct the government to pass the law and unfailingly include a provision for different types of tourism in the PAs".
According to Igor Chestin, the meeting participants also drew the president's attention to the need for an increase in the salaries of PA inspectors, which on average, in different regions vary from 7 to 15 thousand rubles. It was proposed to commision the RF government to ensure the wages of inspectors at a level not lower than the average wage in the region, and to provide for a state guarantee for life and health insurance of PA inspectors.
The meeting participants also discussed the issue of ratification of the Espoo Convention - the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context. In the opinion of WWF, this document should be used to take into account environmental requirements and risks in the implementation of major international programs at the junction of states.
"The environmental community, including WWF Russia, has done a lot to prevent the threat of a large hydroelectric power station being built by Mongolia and China on the Selenga River, the largest river flowing into Baikal. It was possible to stop the construction also due to the personal intervention of the President of the Russian Federation. However, today there are a number of legal mechanisms for dialogue with the countries participating in cross-border projects with environmental risks, one of them is the Espoo Convention, whose ratification will also facilitate the implementation of major international projects of the Russian Federation: “Nord Stream-2” and “South Stream”, said Igor Chestin.
In his speech, the director of WWF Russia proposed to create an Agency for Specially Protected Natural Territories. Such separate PA management and protection structures exist in countries with a high level of biological diversity and a large area of PAs: Brazil, USA, South Africa, and Australia. In our country the functions of the managing body for many years have been carried out by the devision within the department of the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation, which significantly affects the efficiency and rapidity of the work.
"We expect that the questions voiced by WWF, which require a decision at the federal level, will be formulated in the form of instructions to the government of the Russian Federation, and their development will be conducted with the participation of environmental organizations", says Igor Chestin.