Last week Nikolskoye discussed the change in status of the Commander Islands Nature and Biosphere Reserve. On July 17, villagers came to local Art Center to take part in the open meeting together with representatives of the indigenous communities, nature reserve and administration of the Aleut Municipal District. Later on July 20, the provision about the Commander Islands National Park was discussed in an informal atmosphere during Tea with Director meeting in visitor center of the Commander Islands Nature Reserve.
Provision about the Commander Islands National Park was first presented on July 3 in the visitor center of the nature reserve during a special session of Scientific and Technical Council, which includes representatives of indigenous communities, heads of Aleut Municipal District administration and community of Nikolskoye Village.
Two weeks later – it took the participants of the Council two weeks to get acquainted with the provision and prepare their propositions for the new version of the document – the open discussion took place. The participants spoke about the first draft version of the Provision about the Commander Islands National Park.
The nature reserve disseminated information about the upcoming event in advance on our social network pages, information boards in local shops and in local group in WhatsApp messenger, uniting the majority of local people. We also published comments on the provision in the printed version of The Herald of the nature reserve and distributed the paper in the village.
Participants of the open discussion in Nikolskoye Art Center
Overall about 50 villagers came to the meeting. For them the administration of the nature reserve presented a draft version of the provision and answered some of their questions and comments. On Saturday, July 20, the discussion continued on invitation of the Commander Islands Nature and Biosphere Reserve during the Tea with Director meeting – informal event, where guests could share their ideas on the change of status and make their comments and propositions.
The villagers are mostly worried by the issues of development of the village and social objects within its borders, as well as by the status of the local self-management after the Commander Islands Nature Reserve becomes a national park.
The locals are interested in the destiny of Nikolskoye Village during the open meeting
“We answer in details all the questions of local people on any platform. It may be an open discussion or a comment in social networks. The reason is that we want to bring unbiased information to everyone. The main thing we want to say is that the Commander Islands Nature Reserve, which includes Nikolskoye Village in its borders, cannot remain a nature reserve”, said Acting Director Evgeny Mamaev. “According to modern legislation a nature reserve cannot include land plot of individual owners, nature use, business activity or any populated area. National park allows it. Speaking about self-government, everything will remain the same. The future national park will protect natural and historical heritage. Administration of Aleut Municipal District, on their side, will work in the sphere of development of the district and Nikolskoye Village.”
Long term resident and guardian of Aleutian traditions Gennady Mikhailovich Yakovlev
Transition into a national park status is a complicated process, in which we must take into consideration opinions of every party involved. That is why, on July 3, the nature reserve started collecting propositions of local residents and indigenous communities.
“For now we have only the first draft of the paper. We are up to include the received propositions and comments. Open discussions are necessary first of all for everyone to share their opinion. We will meet with the people of Nikolskoye Village as frequently as it is necessary. Until there remain questions to be discussed,” said Evgeny Mamaev.
Tea with Director in the visitor center of the nature reserve
For example, we already included the proposition to broaden the zone of traditional extensive nature use on the eastern coast of Bering Island and include 100 meters more of land from the line of the maximum high tide and to form a similar zone on the western coast.” The northern part of Bering Island remains open for visitation of local residents and for nature use.
Open discussions will continue until there are any issues to be discussed
Administration of the nature reserve continues to receive propositions and comments to the first version of the provision in written form. The next open discussion of the upcoming shift in status of the Commander Islands Nature and Biosphere Reserve will take place in two weeks.