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Nature Protection and Conservation

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Russia, together ___ other post-Soviet republics, occupies most ____non-tropical Eurasia. Despite its rich landscape diversity, its biological diversity is rather poor __ comparison ___ regions of a more southern geographical position. Yet Northern Eurasia encompasses a number ___natural zones which contain over 22 000 species of vascular plants, 1400 mosses, 3000 lichens, and provide habitats ___ 380 species of mammals, over 750 birds, 75 reptiles, 30 amphibians, and 300 freshwater fish species (Kuznetsov, 1974; Borkin and Darevsky, 1987; Stepanyan, 1990; Gromov and Yerbaeva, 1995). __ Russia alone, ___ 5 per cent of global vascular plant flora, 7 per cent mammal fauna, and almost 8 per cent bird fauna are represented. In 1995, Russia and other republics___the former Soviet Union (FSU) ratified the Convention ___ Biological Diversity which put conservation ___ nature in these countries ____ a truly international perspective.

The greatest losses to biodiversity are created ___ human activity. Some environments of Northern Eurasia have been exposed ___ human impact for centuries; others remain virtually untouched. Thus, the history ___ agriculture, cities, and transport communications ___ Transcaucasia and Central Asia date back millennia. Slavic states were established about eleven centuries ago in what is now the northern Ukraine, Moscow, Pskov, and Novgorod regions of Russia, and advanced to the European north ___ the 12th and 13th centuries. After the defeat of Tartar-Mongol nomads, the growing Russian state expanded its frontiers ___ the European steppes and ___ sparsely populated Siberia in the 16th century. Despite a few centuries ___ economic development, the lands ___ Siberia and the Russian Far East are relatively undisturbed, especially ___ north-eastern Siberia and the northern Pacific region. Permafrost, extreme climate, and poor soils restrict industrial and agricultural use ___ these lands. Almost 90 per cent ___ the tundra biome, about 70 per cent ___ taiga and between 20 per cent and 30 per cent ___ Asian steppes remain ___ their virgin state although ___ some regions anthropogenic pressures are considerable due ___ the extraction ___ hydrocarbons and other non-renewable resources, timber cutting, and development ___ hydropower. ___ the same time, the European broad-leaved forests and steppes have been completely transformed. Heavy transformation ___ biological and landscape diversity has occurred ___ Central Asia and ___ the Caucasus where agricultural malpractice coincided ____ population growth.

Conservation as a coherent scientific movement emerged ___ Russia more than a hundred years ago. ___ present, the system ___ protected natural areas encompasses all major biomes and many mountainous regions. Overall, ecosystems are conserved ___ more than 300 protected areas ____ a strict regime ___ protection. In Russia, they include 95 strict nature reserves and 31 national parks. __ addition, there are several thousands ___ protected areas where the use ___ natural resources is restricted but not excluded. The distribution ___ protected areas, however, is not uniform and does not reflect the natural diversity ___ all regions, and ___ the future it may become increasingly difficult ___ solve the problem ___ representation. Challenges are related ___ economic transformation and particularly ___ the issue ___ property rights. Until recently, conservation ___ the FSU benefited ____ state landownership. If private land ownership becomes a reality (drafts of laws are being considered by the parliaments of Russia, Kazakhstan, and the Ukraine), conservationists will face severe financial constraints ___ setting up new reserves. Landscapes ____ Northern Eurasia provide a unique opportunity ____ developing an international network ___ protected areas. This concept is central ___ the participation ___ Russia and other FSU countries ___ conventions and international agreements ___ nature protection, including the Convention ___ Biological Diversity, Convention Concerning the Protection ___ the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, Convention on Wetlands, and Pan-European Convention on Landscape and Biological Diversity Conservation.


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