On August 3, 2018 Federal law #321-ФЗ About Changes in Federal Law About Specially Protected natural Areas and Individual Acts of the Russian Federation came into action. 4 out of 110 zapovedniks or nature reserves in Russia are to change status into national parks. They are the Commander Islands Nature and Biosphere Reserve (Kamchatka Region), Teberdinsky Nature Reserve (Karchaevo-Cherkessia), Stolby Nature Reserve (Krasnoyarsk Region) and Gydansky Nature Reserve (Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region). This status shift is to take place efore February 3, 2020.
Why we need it?
All the four nature reserves to be changed into national parks are connected by the fact of nature use within the borders of nature reserves, which does not comply with protection regime. In the four cases there are people living in the nature reserve or close to the borders, therefore strict protection regime of this territory is impossible.
For example, from its establishing the Commander Islands Nature and Biosphere Reserve has the northern part of Bering Island included in the territory. It is the place where Aleut Municipal District owns parts of land.
The Commander Islands Nature Reserve Establishment Act as April 23, 1993
At the same time, according to legislation of the Russian Federation abolishment or territory reduction of a nature reserve is impossible. For many years the solution was searched to both meet the needs of local people and to protect precious natural objects for the future generations. This solution was found in changing the status of four nature reserves in Russia.
What are the outcomes of the Commander Islands Nature Reserve becoming a national park?
Administration of the Commander Islands Reserve have already proposed the first draft of the provision about transition into a national park and presented it to the society. It is the first project paper, which needs delicate and in-depth work from every participating party, especially from local people.
Special meeting of Scientific and Technical Council about the first draft of the Commander Islands National Park Provision
According to the provision, the national park as well as nature reserve today will be situated on the territory of the Aleutian Municipal District of Kamchatka Region. Plots of land owned by the district in the northern part of Bering Island, including Nikolskoye Village, are situated in the mixed use area, the zone of a national park with the most favorable rules for local residents.
“This provision opens vast opportunities for Indigenous Minorities and other residents of Bering Island. Along with fishing, which is allowed after getting a license, people will have a possibility to hunt the reindeer. Local people ask us to open the hunting for a long time, but because of nature protection regime in place today it is impossible. After changing the status into a national park and adoption of the Statute we will have all legitimate grounds to establish reindeer hunting limits”, said Acting Director Evgeny Mamaev.
Moreover, the administration of the reserve would like to attract the attention to the fact that nature protection regime is not connected with land use issues. “The two are totally different. Every owner of land today will have their rights. The new status and work on the provision is not affecting property rights – the land was owned by the municipal district and will be”, said Evgeny Mamaev.
The project also incorporates two marine corridors in the northern part of Bering Island for cargo vessels to get to Nikolskoye Village and back. The shape of the corridors is chosen on the basis of the existing trajectory of the sea lane. At the same time the protection regime in the water area will persist – the vessels will still have to get permissions to enter the protected water area, the industrial fishing will remain prohibited.
The Commander Islands Nature and Biosphere Reserve tried to provide for more opportunities in nature use not only in the multi-use area, but also in other zones, without core area. To visit core area you will need scientific or research task there.
Zone of traditional extensive nature use is all designated for traditional way of life of Indigenous Minorities, in our case the Aleuts. There they will have the right to fish and hunt, to collect seabirds eggs and hunt seabirds, not included in the Red Data Book, which has been a part of the traditional nature use for over two centuries for the Aleuts on the Commander Islands. Moreover, they will have a possibility to place traditional buildings there.
First draft functional zoning of the Commander Islands National park
The administration of the nature reserve has already organized a meeting of Scientific and Technical Council and open discussion of the draft document. Tomorrow on July 20 we will start a period of individual consultations with local people. We encourage to send us the proposals for the new version of the draft document. We already incorporated some of them. For example, after the proposal made by local people the traditional extensive nature use zone on Bering Island is enlarged.
After all the proposals are collected we plan to organize several more open discussions with all interested parties, which will be followed by another Scientific and Technical Council meeting. The Council includes representatives of Aleut Region Administration, indigenous communities, nature protection organizations, director of local museum and director of the school, president of ANSARKO social organization and Deputy Directors of the nature reserve.
Full video of the open discussion of the first draft Statute of the Commander Islands National Park: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZlW1ofJ9yI&feature=youtu.be