Improvement of legal regulation in the field of development of Russian specially protected natural areas was discussed in the State Duma.
On November 17, 2014 parliamentary hearings on "Improvement of legal regulation in the field of development of specially protected natural areas of the Russian Federation" were held. They were organized by the State Duma Committee on natural resources, environment and ecology jointly with the Committee on Regional Policy and the Committees of the North and the Far East.
Representatives of the Russian Geographical Society were invited to the hearings. Member of the Standing Environmental Commission, senior researcher at the Institute of Geography RAS, Candidate of Geographical Science Nikolai Sobolev delivered a speech: ‘Protected areas of regional and local importance’.
A large majority of protected areas (PAs) in the Russian Federation are of regional or local significance. Regional PAs provide ubiquity of natural areas conservation, which is necessary to maintain favorable environment. As revealed by the Society’s grant project, more than 2 thousand Russian protected areas meet the criteria of international importance - that is the real value of our nature!
For a more foolproof legal support of the links between natural ecological systems it is necessary to considered other forms of nature conservation in conjunction with PAs under environmental legislation: water protection, forests protection and so on. All together, as a single integrated object of protection they will allow us to keep the unity and continuity of environmental stability.
According to the land legislation most of regional and local protected areas are outside PAs, as they serve for not only environmental (habitat-forming), but other economic functions. Provision should be made at the legislative level to grant benefits to certain land owners because their ongoing land use allows ecosystems to maintain favorable environment. For example tax incentives, and the Russian Geographical Society could develop a system of certification, attesting the contribution of environmentally responsible land users in our overall environmental well-being.
Therefore it is necessary to solve the following problems at the legislative level:
- The legislation on the protection of the environment should consider natural ecological systems as renewable but exhaustible natural resource which provide stable favorable environment, as a separate object of legal regulation and control.
- Define the maintenance of this resource a principal task of PAs management and a mandatory additional task in the implementation of economic and other activities in other territories of natural ecological systems.
- Establish tax incentives for owners of lands within the boundaries of protected areas in respect of restrictions of their activities according to established special protection.
- Amend the concept of ecological network (ecological framework) to the legislation as a integrated system of natural areas protected by legal and other measures, the protection mode and the use of which maintain ecological linkages between them at the level sufficient for sustainable functioning of natural ecological systems (in support of the proposal made by Deputy Minister of Natural Resources of Krasnodar Krai S.I. Udintsev).