Countries of the region
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan
North Eurasia unites very different countries – from Kyrgyzstan in the South to Russia with its nine time zones in the North. In general it includes countries of the former Soviet Union. The region has a diverse range of habitats, various cultural traditions, and different environmental problems, conservation challenges and opportunities.
The largest country – Russian Federation – currently (2015) has 103 national nature reserves, 47 national parks, 70 federal reserves, and a number of regional and local level protected areas (PA). The establishment of protected areas dates back to 1916, when the first nature reserve (zapovednik) – Barguzinsky – was created on Baikal Lake. Since then there were many ups and downs in the history of nature conservation, but thanks to the efforts of many conservation-minded people, large natural areas have been protected, and many rare species have been saved from being extinct.
At first the main emphasis of protected area management in Russia and CIS was on preservation of ecosystems primarily for ecological research. Management strategies excluded any type of economic activity, access to the areas and resource use were strictly controlled and limited. Local communities and visitors usually were not involved, and the importance of their support for conservation process was not recognized. Isolation of protected areas from public often brought about such problems as lack of environmental awareness, negative attitudes of local communities and indifference of other stakeholders. The main issues included poaching, illegal logging and illegal entrance to protected areas.
This approach dominated the management goals in PAs up to the early 1980s, when the first national parks appeared in Russia (Sochinsky and Elk Island in 1983); after that the conservation policy broadened to include environmental education and, recently, ecotourism development.
Today one of the main priorities of protected areas in Russia and CIS is environmental education, cooperation with local communities and their involvement into conservation, as well ecotourism. If organized professionally, ecotourism can serve as an alternative to poaching and other forms of illegal land use, bring support and increase environmental awareness of PA. However, ecotourism development in strict nature reserves, such as zapovedniks in Russia, can be very tricky, as it puts at risk main values associated with this type of protected areas and can threaten unique ecosystems.
Today many protected area managers face a challenge of balancing the needs of nature with human needs so that on the one hand, they raise public environmental awareness, provide alternative livelihoods to local communities and get necessary support of various stakeholders, but on the other hand conserve unique wild nature and provide special wilderness experiences for visitors.
There are many other issues in conservation, besides ecotourism, that can be named in Russia and CIS – in law enforcement, research, monitoring, issues that are attributed to inadequate legislation, lack of qualified specialists, etc. But there are also many wonderful and passionate people who work in the field of nature conservation in Russia and countries of the former Soviet Union, and who devote their lives on a daily basis to protecting wildlife and providing sustainable livelihoods in the nearby regions.
The main goal of WCPA in North Eurasia is to help these people to join their efforts, so that together we can make a difference and rich sustainable environmental, social and economic outcomes.
- To restore membership, attract new professional members and engage them into the WCPA activities;
- To raise public awareness and promote WCPA work in the region;
- To provide PA specialists in North Eurasia guidance on international experience related to different aspects of protected area management;
- To provide opportunities for PA people of North Eurasia to work together on shared issues within protected area management;
- To initiate capacity building activities and partnership programs among PA specialists, local communities, representatives of relevant authorities, NGOs and business;
- To support protected areas of the region in their conservation efforts.
Specific objectives for 2014
- To identify leaders in each country of North Eurasia to act as focal points and add new members to WCPA network; the Commission should considerably improve its membership by the end of 2014;
- To provide a platform for interaction and dialogue for North Eurasia WCPA members;
- To cooperate with IUCN Office to initiate new projects that will increase the capacity of protected area managers in the region;
- To organize participation of Russian delegates in the World Parks Congress in Australia in November 2014.
Main achievements in 2014
- Participation of the Russian and Kazakhstan protected area (PA) leaders at the World Parks Congress (WPC) was organized, including:
ü Cooperation with the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, key Russian environmental NGOs, national parks and nature reserves to organize and coordinate participation of the Russian delegation at the Congress and promote Russian system of protected areas to the international conservation community and leaders
ü Cooperation with the Kazakhstan Ministry of Agriculture and UN Development program in Kazakhstan to promote protected areas of Kazakhstan at the WPC
ü Participation of 48 PA specialists from Russia (representatives of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, conservation NGOs, national parks and nature reserves) at the WPC, their cooperative work at the Congress to present Russian system of PA to the world
ü Interactive photo exhibition about Russian national parks and nature reserves with a focus on rare species conservation and opportunities for sustainable tourism
ü Five side events (The Treasures of Baikal and Kamchatka, Russia’s marine and coastal protected areas: on the way to the future, Russian cultural landscapes for community development, Transboundary Protected Areas of North Eurasia, Cats of Russia)
ü Presentation of the Russian Minister of Natural Resources and Environment at the closing Plenary Session of the WPC
ü Brochure “Protected areas of Russia”, Calendar “Protected areas of Russia-2015” – designed and published for the
ü Brochure “Kenozero – how to preserve Russian cultural landscapes and contribute to local sustainable development?” - best practice experience on preserving and managing cultural landscapes, case study from Kenozero National Park in Russia
ü Several brochures and souvenir materials about the most unique Russian protected areas and rare species designed and published for the WPC
ü New logo of Russian protected areas designed and promoted at the WPC
ü Post-congress study tour to Mt Field National Park in Tasmania and Kakadu National Park in Australian Northern Territory organized for a group of Russian protected area specialists to increase their capacity in PA management
- WCPA-North Eurasia Executive Committee (11 people from Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan) was established, in-person inception meeting of 9 people was organized in Polistovsky Reserve in April 2014 to discuss the Regional Action Plan of the WCPA-North Eurasia for 2014-2016 and WPC participation.
- WCPA Country focal points for were identified:
ü Russia - Elena Nikolaeva and Elena Knizhnikova, Environmental Education Center “Zapovedniks”
ü Belarus – Valery Ivkovich, Berezinsky zapovednik
ü Kazakhstan – Talgat Kerteshev, UNDP Kazakhstan
ü Ukraine – Anatoly Podobaylo, Kiev State University
ü Kyrgyzstan – Ilya Domashov, Council of Ecological Movement “Biom”
- A draft of the Regional Action Plan of the WCPA-North Eurasia for 2014-2016 was developed and sent to all regional WCPA members for their comments and suggestions; the final plan was distributed to the members.
- Promotion of WCPA in the region: presentation of WCPA at several regional seminars and trainings for conservation experts; two articles about WCPA developed, published in “Protected Islands” journal and disseminated to 149 federal level protected areas of Russia; flyer about WCPA was designed.
- WCPA membership is expanding: active people working in conservation and PA management in Russia and CIS are being invited to become WCPA members and be involved in its activities.
- The project of the International seminar on conservation of big mammals in protected areas of North Eurasia and development of ecological tourism was proposed and developed. Funding raised, program developed, and the seminar is planned for April 2015.
Specific objectives for 2015
- To expand membership in Russia and CIS
ü to focus on other CIS countries, identify focal points in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan
ü to ensure diverse representation that includes representatives of government, NGOs, PAs, private sector
ü to ensure professionalism, active involvement and engagement of WCPA regional members
- To build capacity and knowledge development of WCPA members in the region
ü to organize trainings/seminars/workshops with participation of WCPA members of different countries (example – International seminar on conservation of big mammals in PA and ecotourism opportunities organized by Environmental Education Center “Zapovedniks” in April 2015; other proposed events are presented in the regional Action Plan)
ü to disseminate the main results of the World Parks Congress (streams and themes outcomes and the Promise of Sydney)
ü to start a serious of publications under the umbrella of IUCN WCPA (in 2015 – e-publications with links to resource materials on preserving cultural landscapes and conservation of big mammals in PA)
ü to organize webinars to exchange experience within the region on different aspects of protected area management (specific webinars will be announced)
- To send quarterly newsletters for WCPA members
- To prepare for the 100th Anniversary of PA in Russia that will be celebrated in 2016
- To strengthen international presence
ü to create a calendar of key international conservation events
ü to start preparation for the IUCN World Conservation Congress that will take place in Hawaii, USA, in the beginning of September-2016
We are looking forward to new ideas on cooperation and working together on various conservation issues!
South-Kamchatka Sanctuary, Kamchatka, Russia
Photo: E. Nikolaeva