RUSSIA HAS THREE TIMES MORE PROTECTED AREAS THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT
The Convention on
Biological Diversity (CBD) sets out to protect 17% of the land
(including inland water bodies) and 10% of the sea by 2020. According to the Ministry
of Natural Resources and Environment, Russia currently has 10.3% of land and
2.4% of sea territories under protection—these are the federal and specially
protected natural areas (PAs) under the jurisdiction of Russia. A total of
12,000 territories cover the area of around 207 million ha. Their categories
are specified by the Federal Law "On Specially Protected Natural
Areas" and other similar regional laws.
The research of WWF Russia has shown that the country actually has more territories (both on land and in the sea) that meet the international criteria for PAs.
WWF and IUCN experts have agreed which Russian territories with regulated use of natural resources comply with the IUCN requirements for PAs. Nigel Dudley, the member of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) who is responsible for developing the international guidelines, took part in preparing the analytical survey "Protected Areas of Russia and Their Categories".IUCN guidelines for protected areas were developed to create a unified approach to the classification of those areas, for all countries. These guidelines are used to calculate the figures for each country, including those required by the Convention on Biological Diversity. "However, the official statistics in Russia only covers the territories subject to the Law "On Specially Protected Natural Areas," said Mikhail Stishov, Leading Projects Coordinator at WWF Russia, one of the coauthors of the research. "Many Russian territories that comply with the IUCN guidelines are under different jurisdiction: the Forest Code and the Water Code (certain categories of protected forests and specially protected forest areas, water protection zones, etc.), the Laws on Cultural Heritage Sites (for example, some reserve museums) and on Territories of Traditional Natural Resource Use. Official statistics do not account for these territories, and no one had done a research like this before us."
According to the research apart from the 208 million ha of official PAs, there is about 228 million ha of other territories that fully comply with the international PA standards and should be accounted for in the respective statistics. Nigel Dudley also believes that Russia has over 240 million ha that could potentially be regarded as PAs according to the IUCN guidelines, but they require more detailed analysis by a larger group of international experts. First of all, this applies to preservation of water bodies.
Therefore, the preliminary results have shown that Russia has more protected areas that comply with international standards than previously thought, and these amount to 25%–40% of the country's territory.
Which means that the next important step will be to assess the conservation activities for each area and use that information to prepare a detailed plan of action on improving their management. WWF Russia has already developed a potential approach for such an assessment, and it has been tested in some regions of the country and abroad.