On November 26-29, by order of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation – founder of the nature reserve management office, which exercise the powers on behalf of government of the Russian Federation –polling was organized in order to understand the opinion of Nikolskoye villagers about reformation of the nature reserve into a national park.
The change of the status set by Federal Law #321-ФЗ 3 August 2018 “On Changes in Federal Law “About Specially Protected Natural Areas” and separate legislative acts of the Russian Federation”. In brief, this change is necessary to coordinate the existing nature use with actual nature protection legislation. To learn more about the reasons, please, visit our web site or look into the Harold (#26, 49 and 53). Three issues in the recent years were consecrated exclusively to the status change.
Nikolskoye Village is the only settlement on the Commander Islands and within the boundaries of the Aleut Municipal District. According to a pilot census held in 2018, there are 614 inhabitants on Bering Island. 85 of them go to school, 39 go to local kindergarten, and therefore 490 of them are adult people.
Picture 1. Social composition of the surveyed
Within three days, the nature reserve staff visited all the residential houses of Nikolskoye – 29 blocks of flats and 5 detached houses – and invited the adult residents to share their opinion. Overall, 239 people took part in the poll. It is nearly a half of the official number of residents on the islands (picture 1 and 2).
The method of polling was chosen as recommended by Sergey Savin, Candidate of Sociological Sciences and acting HoC of Sociology of Political and Social Processed School of St-Petersburg State University. According to Federal Law #152 27.07.2006 “About Personal Data” the polling was anonymous.
Picture 2. Results of door-to-door canvassing and polling of Nikolskoye villagers
28.5% of the surveyed agree with the reforming, 7.9% are in doubt and 63.6% are against this change (picture 3).
Picture 3. Opinion of the surveyed about the reforming of the Commander Islands Nature Reserve in to a national park.
If the surveyed disagreed with the reforming, we asked them the reason. The majority could not answer the question – 29%, 22% did not have any concerns (Picture 4). 15% believe that it will mean additional administrative barriers. It included such concerns as “impeded transportation on the island”, “regulatory activity of the national park in the sphere of development and municipal district functioning”, which may lead to “crack down on civil rights”.
10% of the respondents voted against the attachment of the northern part of Bering Island to the nature reserve. 8% leaned on the most shared opinion and said that “people say that everything will be bed”.
Picture 4. Reasons why people disagree with reformation of the nature reserve into national park
Answering the question “Which aspects of the reforming cause concerns?” the surveyed proposed one or several answers (picture 5). The most common answers are “Not sure” – 30% and “No concerns” – 16%. A part of the surveyed (8%) are concerned with transportation restrictions, 6% - attachment of the northern part of Bering Island to the nature reserve.
Picture 5. Proportional distribution of answers about reformation concerns
The surveyed had the possibility to say which norms they would wish to be included in the National Park Statute. The majority (51%), as in the previous case, could not respond to the question (picture 6). The second most popular answer was “no suggestions” – 9%. 8% proposed to stop reformation and continue as a nature reserve, 6% would like to exclude the northern part of Bering Island from the specially protected natural area.
Picture 6. Suggestions of the surveyed for the future National Park Statute.
“As for concerns about transportation and development restrictions, I can say, that they are totally groundless. Moreover, the national park opens more possibilities in nature use for local people ulike a nature reserve, where economic activity is banned by law. By the way, this detail was the reason to reform the nature reserve into a national park. A bit surprising was the fact that some of us lack information about reformation, while within recent three years we came up with this theme on many community meeting of different formats”, said Evgeny Mamaev, acting director of the nature reserve.
“Our section had several empty flats, three people refused to answer the questions. The majority of the surveyed were polite, hospitable, invited us for tea and readily answered the questions. It was my first experience of polling. We executed the job honestly and with respect of all the rules”, shared her opinion Irina Moskvitina, leading specialist of the nature reserve.
The management of the Commander Islands Nature Reserve plans to organize another series of awareness building events to share the necessity and consequences of the reforming of the nature reserve into national park. Only together can we support the balance between conservation of the unique nature and traditional nature use.