Physical Geography
  Tectonics and Geology
  Climatic Change
  Climate at Present and in the Past
  Rivers, Lakes, Seas and Wetlands

Biomes & Regions
  Arctic Environments
  Boreal Forests
  Mixed and Deciduous Forests
  Steppe and Forest-steppe
  Arid Environments
  The Mountains of Northern Russia
  The Mountains of Southern Siberia
  The Caucasus
  The Mountains of Central Asia
  Lake Baikal
  The Far East

Environmental Problems
  Radioactive Contamination
  Oil and Gas Development
  Air Pollution
  The Aral Sea Problems
  Deforestation and Degradation of Forests
  Nature Protection and Conservation

Images of Russian Nature
  Geographic Index
  Systematic Index
  Alphabetical Index

Nature Reserves
  Northern Russia
  Central Russia
  Povolzhye (Volga river basin)
  Southern Russia
  Ural Mountains
  Western Siberia
  Eastern Siberia
  Far East

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Nature Landscapes of the World
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Field Ecology Education
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Russian Nature

Home | Physical Geography | Biomes & Regions | Environmental Problems | Images of Russian Nature | Nature Reserves

Our Field Ecology Center published more than 180 methodical materials for nature studies. Some of them are in English:
Mobile educational application: Ecological Field Studies Techniques on Play.Google Mobile field guide Birds of North America: Songs and Calls Decoys on Play.Google WILD FLOWERS OF RUSSIA Field Identification Guide on Play.Google Mobile field guide Birds of Russia on Play.Google Mobile field guide Birds of Russia Songs, Calls and Voices on Play.Google Mobile field guide Birds of Europe Songs, Calls and Voices on Play.Google Mobile field guide Birds of Europe Songs, Calls and Voices on Play.Google
Mobile Educational Apps and Field Identification Guides for Russian, European and American Birds
Applications for Android and iOS are available at GooglePlay and AppStore

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Environmental problems of Northern Eurasia

Nature Protection and Conservation

<<< Deforestation: Conclusions | Environmental Problems Index | History of Conservation: Efforts and Attitudes >>>


Russia, together with other post-Soviet republics, occupies most of non-tropical Eurasia. Despite its rich landscape diversity, its biological diversity is rather poor in comparison with regions of a more southern geographical position. Yet Northern Eurasia encompasses a number of natural zones which contain over 22 000 species of vascular plants, 1400 mosses, 3000 lichens, and provide habitats for 380 species of mammals, over 750 birds, 75 reptiles, 30 amphibians, and 300 freshwater fish species (Kuznetsov, 1974; Borkin and Darevsky, 1987; Stepanyan, 1990; Gromov and Yerbaeva, 1995). In Russia alone, about 5 per cent of global vascular plant flora, 7 per cent mammal fauna, and almost 8 per cent bird fauna are represented. In 1995, Russia and other republics of the former Soviet Union (FSU) ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity which put conservation of nature in these countries into a truly international perspective.

The greatest losses to biodiversity are created by human activity. Some environments of Northern Eurasia have been exposed to human impact for centuries; others remain virtually untouched. Thus, the history of agriculture, cities, and transport communications in Transcaucasia and Central Asia date back millennia. Slavic states were established about eleven centuries ago in what is now the northern Ukraine, Moscow, Pskov, and Novgorod regions of Russia, and advanced to the European north in the 12th and 13th centuries. After the defeat of Tartar-Mongol nomads, the growing Russian state expanded its frontiers to the European steppes and to sparsely populated Siberia in the 16th century. Despite a few centuries of economic development, the lands of Siberia and the Russian Far East are relatively undisturbed, especially in north-eastern Siberia and the northern Pacific region. Permafrost, extreme climate, and poor soils restrict industrial and agricultural use of these lands. Almost 90 per cent of the tundra biome, about 70 per cent of taiga and between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of Asian steppes remain in their virgin state although in some regions anthropogenic pressures are considerable due to the extraction of hydrocarbons and other non-renewable resources, timber cutting, and development of hydropower. At the same time, the European broad-leaved forests and steppes have been completely transformed. Heavy transformation of biological and landscape diversity has occurred in Central Asia and in the Caucasus where agricultural malpractice coincided with population growth.

Conservation as a coherent scientific movement emerged in Russia more than a hundred years ago. At present, the system of protected natural areas encompasses all major biomes and many mountainous regions (Tishkov, 1995; Shtilmark, 1996; Shvarts et al., 1996). Overall, ecosystems are conserved in more than 300 protected areas with a strict regime of protection. In Russia, they include 95 strict nature reserves and 31 national parks. In addition, there are several thousands of protected areas where the use of natural resources is restricted but not excluded. The distribution of protected areas, however, is not uniform and does not reflect the natural diversity of all regions, and in the future it may become increasingly difficult to solve the problem of representation. Challenges are related to economic transformation and particularly to the issue of property rights. Until recently, conservation in the FSU benefited from state landownership. If private land ownership becomes a reality (drafts of laws are being considered by the parliaments of Russia, Kazakhstan, and the Ukraine), conservationists will face severe financial constraints in setting up new reserves. To secure the adequate functioning of the system of protected areas in changing political and economic conditions new legislation, concerned with the reservation of lands to set up new protected areas, is being developed in Russia, ft will complement the existing environmental laws such as the Law on Environmental Protection, the Forest Code, the Law on Protected Areas, and the Law on Fauna, fn the Ukraine, such legislation was adopted in 1994.

Landscapes of Northern Eurasia provide a unique opportunity for developing an international network of protected areas. This concept is central to the participation of Russia and other FSU countries in conventions and international agreements on nature protection, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, Convention on Wetlands, and Pan-European Convention on Landscape and Biological Diversity Conservation.

<<< Deforestation: Conclusions | Environmental Problems Index | History of Conservation: Efforts and Attitudes >>>



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