The 2017 was declared as ”The year of ecology” and simultaneously as “The year of protected areas” in Russian Federation. According to this announcement the Karelian Research Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation with support from the Ministry of the Environment of Finland, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) and some international funds organized the international conference focused on the Green Belt of Fennoscandia. This forum named “International and Interregional Connectivity of Protected Areas in the European North” took place in Petrozavodsk on 13-16 of November.
The conference combined scholars from various institutes and universities, nature reserves and national parks representatives, heads of the Ministry of the Environment and members of international nature protection organizations. Participants of the conference discussed during three days different issues of the Green Belt of Fennoscandia: biological diversity, new nature protected areas foundation, legal features, history and culture, international cooperation.
According to the Andrey Gromcev, head of laboratory for landscape ecology and forest protection, the Republic of Karelia has only 4,8% protected areas which is the lowest level in the North-West Russia. At the same time, he stressed the considerable role of protective forests and water protection areas, which surround national parks, rivers and lakes. Considering these areas, the total protected territory in the republic is more than 17%. But the main question is how this system works? Does this mean, for example, that the coastal territory of the Ladoga skerries, determined 200 meters according to the legislation, remains untouched?
Another important issue discussed on the conference was the creation of new nature protection areas. Bo Storrank from the Finnish Environment Institute noted the growth of the protected areas in the Barents region which now achieved 13,2%. Natalya Polikarpova, deputy head of the Pasvik Nature Reserve, presented the new planning nature protected area on the northern tip of GBF – Vuorjema. This unique area combines ecological and historical features such as pearl mussels, the 200-year-old stone board and battlefields in World War II.
Sergey Tarhov, the director of Kostomukshsky strict nature reserve, demonstrated the new concept of the nature protection – Metsola biosphere reserve. This planning protected area combines Kostomukshsky strict nature reserve on the south, Kalevalsky national park on the north and territory between them – or zone of cooperation (see the map). The main aim of the biosphere reserve is to promote and expand connections between people and nature. At the same time, the creation of the new protected area always takes time and effort. In the case of Ladoga skerries national park the project has not been completed for 25 years. Ending on an optimistic note, I would like to cite the first deputy minister of Nature Use and the Environment of the Republic of Karelia Aleksei Pavlov promised to open national park Ladoga skerries until the end of 2017!