A Letter to the Head of Republic of Karelia, Andrey Nelidov
The head of Republic of Karelia
Lenin Prospect 19, 185028, Petrozavodsk, Republic of Karelia
Dear Andrey Vitalevich,
We express a wish that in renewing the "Scheme of Territorial Planning of Republic of Karelia" the number, location and boundaries of the designed protected areas would be left as they originally are at the "Scheme" approved in 2007 (with the exception of areas that since 2007 have been transferred outside the jurisdiction of Karelian Republic, e.g. marine waters).
Our appeal is based on the following circumstances:
Russian Federation has ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The target agreed in 2010 in Nagoya, Japan, is to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2020 and establish a representative and effectively managed protected area network, with at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water protected areas.
On the official website of the Republic of Karelia, on the page of the Ministry of Construction of Republic of Karelia, on September 16th were published the draft amendments to the existing "Territorial planning schemes of Republic of Karelia", approved by the Government of the RK ? 102-P from 06.07.2007:
- The scheme of territorial planning of the Republic of Karelia. Materials for substantiation (draft)
- The scheme of territorial planning of the Republic of Karelia. Regulations on Territorial Planning (draft)
- Maps of the draft Plans of Territorial Planning of the Republic of Karelia
We express our deep concern about the new plans, because they seem to eliminate from the regional land-use planning schemes 45 planned protected areas covering more than 1,3 million hectares of unique valuable natural areas, including some of those with particularly high conservational value that has been recently confirmed in the international level, such as landscape reserves "Pjaozersky" and "Spokoinyij" in the north-western part of Republic of Karelia.
List of specially protected natural areas of regional or greater significance, which entered the territorial planning schemes of Karelia (2007), was something that Republic of Karelia could have been proud of even on international forums. It was a result of almost 30 years of work, which was carried out by the leading specialists of the Karelian Research Center, the NGO "SPOK", the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Greenpeace Russia, NP "Transparent World" and several Finnish partners taking part in the Finnish-Russian nature-conservation co-operation; our organization (the Finnish Nature-League) taking actively part on the field-survey part of this work.
During this work also the socio-economic aspects were carefully considered. The scheme of Territorial Planning (2007) included the most valuable natural areas from the point of view of protecting functioning ecosystems. Many of them at the same time have relatively little value for development. The reason why these areas have remained in natural state is their remote location, difficulty of access, or low productivity or their forests. We believe, however, that remaining in natural state, many of these areas posses a big economical potential, e.g. serving as the raw-material source for business that produces commercial grocery products from berries, mushrooms etc. They also provide opportunities for companies operating on the field of nature-based tourism. To our understanding this economical value far exceeds those that could be gained from using these territories for logging. It is also noteworthy, that the non-destructive businesses we mentioned above employ people rather than just machines.
Some of the areas (such as proposed Nature-Park "Zaonezhje") also present opportunities for preserving important crisis-time genetic resources of cattle, in other words the old northern breeds of farm-animals, that are adapted into harsh conditions, and thus are able to produce meat, dairy products etc. even on rather modest nutrition resources.
The new version of the "Scheme of territorial planning" does not reflect the results produced by the international scientific and environmental projects, including recommendations resulting from the project "GAP-analysis in North-West Russia". Karelian Research Centre of Russian Academy of Sciences, Ministry of Natural use and Ecology of Republic of Karelia (Ministry of Agriculture, Fish and Wildlife Service of Republic of Karelia in the beginning of the project), NGO "SPOK" and other social organizations from Russia and Finland participated in this project. The removed territories are an essential part of the Greenbelt -network of Northern Europe, which consists of several Greenbelts on the territories of Norway, Finland, Sweden, Republics of Karelia and Komi, as well as Murmansk, Arkhangelsk and Leningrad oblasts. This network of natural areas is a lifeline of nature in surviving on the conditions of the ongoing climate change. If preserved at their present state, these areas the natural-condition forests and mires also work as a strong inhibitor of the climate change serving as an enormous storage of carbon, which otherwise (if these areas would be taken into exploitary use) would be released in the atmosphere and accelerate devastating global warming.
Republic of Karelia has an honor of hosting two of such Greenbelts: the Fennoscandian Greenbelt (together with Finland) and a Greenbelt stretching from Vodlozero to Kola Peninsula along the White Sea coast. There is an ongoing project called BPAN to strengthen this internationally important network of protected areas. The participants being organizations from the countries and regions mentioned above, and also the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russian Federation. For instance in Finland strengthening of the network of protected areas is constantly on the agenda, and what happens to the nature of Karelian Republic, has a strong influence also on our nature. A good example of this is the western population of the red-listed northern forest-deer, Rangifer tarandus fennicus - a species of whose protection Finland and Republic of Karelia share responsibility, and of whose key-territories some are among protected areas proposed to be removed from the "Scheme of territorial planning".
Republic of Karelia having two Greenbelts on its territory and a well-developed scientific community, to our understanding, would have good opportunities to establish significant internationally funded research- and survey programs studying ongoing climate change and its impact on ecosystems, and also benefit of scientific tourism connected to this issue. However, if the currently natural-conditioned key territories of the Greenbelt structures will be lost or significantly weakened, the opportunities for this kind of research will be also lost, permanently. Taking these territories into exploitary economical use would, most likely, also damage Karelian forestry business in long term, because the market of forestry products these days expects sustainability from the forestry, and damaging the natural-state territories is against all the principles of long-term sustainability.
On behalf of Finnish Nature League,
Finnish Nature League Luonto Liitto ry