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50th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention

02 february 2021
WWF-Russia advocates for re-establishing three nature protected areas in Kamchatka, which are recognized as wetlands of international importance.

A half-century anniversary of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands was celebrated on February 2. The international treaty was signed in 1971. The USSR joined the treaty in 1974, and Russia reaffirmed its commitment to protect internationally recognized important waterfowl habitats. There are 35 areas of international importance under the Ramsar Convention in Russia, four of which are located in Kamchatka. They are Parapolsky Dol, Utkholok, the Moroshechnaya River, and Karaginsky Island.

Parapolsky Dol, a part of the Koryaksky Preserve, is the only territory of the four named above, which has kept its conservation status. The other three were deprived of the status in 2010. In 2019, Karaginsky Island (total area of about 200,000 ha) was officially turned into hunting grounds and was leased for the price of 15,000 rubles (approx. $220).

Utkholok is a 50,000 ha territory near the western shore of Kamchatka. About 30 species of Red List animals and plants can be found in the area. Steller’s sea eagle, white-tailed eagle, spoon-billed sandpiper, Far Eastern curlew, and Kamchatka steelhead are among them.

The Moroshechnaya River is a former protected area of 150,000 ha. It is full of lakes and swaps, wetlands and hummock tundra. More than 800,000 birds, including the bean goose and other waterfowl species, migrate through the area twice a year. 

“On the 50th anniversary of the Ramsar Convention we encourage officials not only include Utkholok, Karaginsky Island, and the Moroshechnaya River in the plan for nature protected areas development, but to re-establish their conservation status as early as possible. Nature protected area status will help to define and regulate the anthropogenic activity in the territories for conservation purposes. Time is of the essence in this case, we cannot afford losing the environmental value of the territories,” said Sergey Rafanov, director of WWF-Russia’s Kamchatka/Bering Sea Ecoregional Office.