Russia to create new national parks and reserves nearly size of Switzerland
Polar bears, walruses, sea otters, and other endangered species are all set to benefit from a Russian decision to boost its national protected areas to nearly 3 percent of its territory by 2020, a move which helps the country to meet its international obligations to protect biodiversity.
The Russian government's decision establishes 9 new nature reserves and 13 national parks covering a total area of over 3.8 million ha by 2020. Russia is also introducing marine buffer zones of over 1 million ha.
"For the first time, development of protected areas in Russia will be based on the analysis of all available data on biological diversity of Russia", said Vladimir Krever, WWF-Russia biodiversity coordinator.
"The creation of protected areas is crucial to save Russia's diverse and unique biodiversity," he added.
An existing 9 reserves and 1 national park will see their areas increased by 500 thousand ha.
The decision was based on an analysis of WWF in cooperation with The Nature Coservancy and MAVA Foundation, carried out between 2006-2008, and is aimed at fulfilling Russia's commitment under the Convention on Biodiversity to establish effective protected area systems that safeguard biodiversity.
The UN has declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity, culminating in October at the 10th Conference of the Parties in Nagoya. WWF is calling on governments in Nagoya to adopt a clear roadmap and allocate additional financing to halt biodiversity loss by 2020.
Stopping the loss of the planet's biodiversity should be given the highest priority by governments because it is the foundation for human life providing food, medicine and clean water as well as reducing the impact of natural disasters and climate change. Natural habitats and species underpin the global economy and directly supports billions of people who dependent on forests, fisheries and wetlands for their livelihoods.
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