WWF Russia’s birthday – 24 years of nature protection
More than 140 national parks and other federal and regional protected areas (in total of 54 million hectares – which exeeds total area of Germany!) were created with WWF Russia’s participation.
Hence, in 1997 Yakutia became the first Russian participant in WWF's World Campaign named "Gift to the Earth". The head of the Sakha republic (Yakutia) promised to create natural reserves on 25% of the territory of the republic. With WWF’s support, the region exceeded the target by 30%! The "Gift of the Earth" campaign was later joined by 10 more Russian regions.
In the Far East in 2007, national parks "The Call of the Tiger", "Udege Legend" and "Anyui" were created with the participation of WWF.. Afterwards in 2009 WWF supported the creation of the "Russian Arctic" national park. This was the first Arctic national park in Russia, that protects walruses, polar bears, seashore birds colonies and glaciers on it’s terrotories.
In 2012, ”Beringia” was established - – a national park in Chukotka. The park preserves landscapes of the Chukchi Peninsula, thermal springs, monuments of ancient Eskimos and Chukchi cultures, polar bears, snow sheep, Pacific walruses, huge seashore bird colonies and salmon spawning grounds. In 2013 “Shantarsky Islands” - was established national park in the Khabarovsk Territory, the pearl of the Russian "Pacific necklace".
In 2018, after 10 years of work and active participation of WWF in the Murmansk region, a national park "Khibiny" was finally created..
In the same year "Novosibirsk Islands" natural reserve was created - the largest federal wildlife sanctuary and the second-largest protected natural area in Russia. The area of the new protected areas is almost 6.6 million hectares, including 4.9 million hectares of marine area.
The project on the preservation of the Amur tiger was one of the first serious steps in the work of WWF in Russia. The data of the last census showed that by joint efforts of the state and public environmental organizations number of tigers stabilized at the level of 523-540 individuals. In 2010 in St. Petersburg the International Forum on Tiger Conservation took place as a result WWF initiative. Consequently, 13 states, adopted the program to save this rare cat within their territories.
Thanks to the project launched by the WWF, today we have around 400 purebred bison, which are grazing freely in the forests of the European part of Russia. The Fund also began working on bison reintroduction to the North Caucasus: now there are 127 free-living bison in the region.
WWF has created a network of "Bear patrols" in more than 15 localities of the Russian Arctic. These are groups of local residents who prevent conflicts between polar bears and humans, thereby saving both.
Photo traps, purchased with the help of WWF supporters and partner organizations, gave an opportunity to the experts to observe the life and movements of a very little-studied animal – the snow leopard.
In 2013, the Russian president signed amendments that hardened the punishment for the extraction and circulation of particularly valuable animals. WWF has initiated the adoption of these changes. The maintenance, acquisition, storage, transportation, transfer and sale of rare species or their parts became a criminal offense, and the punishment for their extraction became much more stringent.
In 2017, WWF and the Ministry of Agriculture of Kazakhstan signed a memorandum on the implementation of a joint program for the reintroduction of the Caspian tiger. The program will contribute to the development of a global initiative to double the numbers of tigers in the world by 2022 "Tx2".
In 2017, 17 purebred bison arrived to Russia from Sweden. The previous time, about 15 years ago, they were imported from Europe. Some of the animals have replenished the breeding stock of the Oka Reserve nursery, and the other will become the basis for a new natural grouping in North Ossetia. Animals were imported to increase the genetic diversity of the bison population in Russia.
WWF has developed the first online “Irbis” database in Russia to record the known snow leopards that have inhabited and now reside on the territory of Russia. At the moment the system contains the data of 63 "electronic passports", and also has the possibility of automatic recognition of snow leopards, which occurs due to the comparison of the pattern of spots on the skins of different animals.
Dense Russian forests
As an example, there is a project in the Pskov region, where WWF has developed an effective model of forest management. It allows to grow high-yielding forest, to make a big profit and at the same time to preserve the habitats of animals and plants.
Russia has become the second largest country in the world after Canada for the forest areas certified according to the international standards of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) - more than 43 million hectares. FSC certification helps to preserve ecosystems, social and protective functions of forests in industrial felling.
In 2010, after a long public WWF campaign, Russia introduced a complete ban on cutting Korean cedar. The fund with partners also took more than 600 thousand hectares of cedar-broad-leaved forests of Primorye for a long-term environmental lease. WWF volunteers, in their turn, planted a million cedars in the habitats of the Far Eastern leopard.
WWF has developed and implemented a unique system of space forest monitoring - "CEDAR". The system is based on the algorithm for automatic analysis of space images, which are sent to the control room on-line. Comparing the images, the system identifies changes in the forest canopy, which are compared with the boundaries of permitted forest use. Thus, forestry authorities receive information about what is happening in the forest, and are able to respond quickly to forest disturbances. In April 2018, the system was awarded by the Government of Russia.
Nature or Money?
WWF launched a campaign to protect the gray whale population in Sakhalin, which was threatened by oil production. The subsea pipeline route of the Sakhalin-2 project was changed and passed the feeding area of whales.
The national campaign of environmental organizations to protect Lake Baikal and Perevoznaya Bay in the Far East from the construction of the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline was completed. The threat to unique ecosystems is past for a while.
Thanks to the long-term campaign of WWF and other public organizations, dangerous for nature project on the Evenk hydropower plant construction has been stopped, and all the dams in the main channel of the Amur are excluded from the development plans of the Far East.
The retail sale of caviar of sturgeon fish is completely prohibited. This is the first and necessary step to stop poaching and to prevent the death of sturgeon.
There was introduced the ban on the salmon harvesting by drift-nets (floating) networks in the exclusive economic zone of Russia. This is a great victory for all those who support the conservation and sustainable use of the aquatic biological resources of the Far East. WWF for many years insisted on imposing strict restrictions on this type of fishery until its complete prohibition. This is due to serious environmental violations, which were committed by the vessels that harvest salmon sockeye salmon, as well as to the significant economic damage.
WWF, together with the Global Ecological Footprint Network, for the first time measured the eco-trace and the natural potential of Russian regions. It turned out that Russia is one of the few countries that, with a reasonable use of natural resources, will be able to secure their stable reserves for decades to come.
Voices for the Planet
28 thousand signatures were collected under the appeal of WWF to Vladimir Putin with the address to ban deforestation in the Bikin River valley in Primorsky Krai, and then defended the fate of the "Russian Amazon".
In 2012, more than 120 thousand signatures were collected for the law on the protection of the seas from oil pollution. As a result, the State Duma adopted a law that takes into account most of the key provisions on which WWF insisted.
In 2013, 130 thousand signatures were collected for the prohibition of industrial felling in protective forests, and now the relevant draft law is being approved by the authorities.
In 2014, more than 115,000 people supported WWF Russia's conservation projects for rare animals. We succeeded to collect more than 3.8 million rubles.
In 2015, more than 90 thousand people supported the appeal to the Russian president with a request to suspend new projects for oil production in the Arctic, and as a result, the government imposed a moratorium on the issuance of new sites on the Arctic shelf to oil companies.
In 2016, more than 145,000 people supported the WWF campaign dedicated to the ecological footprint.
In 2017, more than 150 cities supported the WWF campaign dedicated to the responsible consumption of the planet's resources.
In 2018, about 100 thousand signatures were collected under the appeal to the President with a request to protect the reserves, to make the "green" energy available, to introduce separate collection and recycling of waste.