17 february, 2021

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“Reserves are natural monuments for which we are responsible to the world” — Elena Sharoykina

Experts reviewed the draft Strategy for the Development of the System of Specially Protected Natural Areas in Russia

“Reserves are natural monuments for which we are responsible to the world” — Elena Sharoykina

On February 16, in the Civic Chamber of Russia, there was a discussion of the “Strategy of development of specially protected natural areas (SPNA) in the Russian Federation for the period until 2030” project.

The event was organized by the Civic Chamber Commission on Ecology and Environmental Protection.

Elena Sharoykina, the Chairwoman of the Civic Chamber Commission on Ecology and Environmental Protection, opened the meeting by noting the importance of protected areas.

“The Civic Chamber Commission on Ecology and Environmental Protection considers SPNAs as one of the key areas of its work. These are areas that protect our country's unique ecology and contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and carry special scientific and cultural values, not to mention their recreational and educational potential. These are national treasures and natural monuments of international importance, for which we are responsible before the whole world. Therefore, it is fundamentally important that the strategy designed to define the priorities of development of protected areas in Russia for the next decade to ensure their sustainable development and achievement of target indicators should be carefully worked out. Our task is to help the Ministry of Natural Resources to make the strategy effective and give constructive suggestions from the expert community, which has vast experience in this field,” she said.

Elena Sharoykina positively assessed the openness of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation and its readiness to discuss all topical issues of the country's environmental development.

Irina Makanova, the Director of the Department of State Policy and Regulation in the sphere of Specially Protected Natural Areas of the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation, in her turn, reminded about a high demand for public participation in decision-making on protected areas and noted the potential role of the developed strategy.

Olga Krever, the Deputy Director of FSBI Information and Analytical Center for Support of Protected Areas, Coordinator of the strategy development process, compared the current draft with the Concept of protected area system development that was in effect until early 2021.

The Strategy provides for several important aspects: identifying reporting indicators to achieve specific results; creation of a unified ecological framework that will link all PAs into a single network; formation of a system of training for work in SPNAs and in the executive authorities involved in the management of SPNAs. The strategy developers suggested that it include a plan of key activities for the various actors in the SPNA system.

The experts noted the need for institutional development of state management in the sphere of SPNAs through the possible creation of a specialized structure.

“The creation of a dedicated federal executive agency is one of the biggest challenges in the SPNA system. This issue has been raised continuously in Russia since 1992. The absence of such a specialized, stand-alone body drags the whole system down because of ineffective management of the SPNA system over the past 60 years. All the world's experience shows that a country with a large area and a vast network of protected areas of national importance needs to create such bodies,” said Vsevolod Stepanitsky, the Advisor to the Director General of the Far Eastern Leopards autonomous non-profit organization, Honored Ecologist of Russia.

This idea was supported by Mikhail Kreindlin, the Head of the Protected Areas Program of Greenpeace Russia. He believes that this is the level that will provide not only legislative but also administrative protection of the subordinate territories and build effective work on their development. Irina Makanova expressed a willingness to consider this initiative.

Among other important aspects of the protected areas system development to be fixed in the Strategy, experts noted the need to expand the powers and increase the salaries of SPNA inspectors, to attract trained volunteer firefighting organizations to extinguish fires in SPNAs, to secure the priority rights of local residents to traditional nature management, to develop the tourism industry and consolidate the contribution of protected areas to the sustainable development of the country. There was also a proposal to establish a professional holiday — Day of SPNA Worker.

Irina Sannikova, the Co-moderator, Member of the Committee on ecology and environmental protection of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, Deputy Director for the development of the FSBI State Nature Reserve “Khakassky” called the representatives of the expert community to work more actively in compiling recommendations for revising the strategy.

Summarizing the meeting, Elena Sharoykina welcomed the idea of introducing a SPNA Worker Day. From her point of view, it will emphasize the special importance of the profession and contribute to its popularization to preserve Russia's unique nature for future generations.

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