Changing Planet

Russia Sets Aside 5,700 Square Miles for Arctic Wildlife

Good news for polar bears, walruses, caribou:

Russia will create a new 3.7 million-acre (1.5 million-hectare) park in the Arctic, a central area for the Barents and Kara Sea polar bear populations, WWF said today.

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NGS photo of polar bear in the Russian Arctic by Gordon Wiltsie

Announcing the park, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he hoped it would be a major attraction for tourism, and announced that he personally plans to vacation there, WWF said.

The new Russian Arctic park is located on the northern part of Novaya Zemlya, a long island that arcs out into the Arctic Ocean between the Barents and Kara Seas, WWF said. It also includes some adjacent marine areas.

“WWF has long been lobbying for the park, which is also a key area for walrus, wild reindeer and bird population,” the conservation charity said.

Industrial activities are prohibited in the new park.

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NGS photo of walruses swimming in Arctic waters by Bruce Dale

“This is exactly the sort of thing we need to see from Arctic governments,” said Neil Hamilton, director of WWF International’s Arctic Programme.

“The only way these Arctic populations are going to survive the ecological havoc caused by global warming is by providing them with enough breathing room.”

“If industrial activity is kept far enough from key habitat, the animals have a chance.”

“We also need urgent global action on climate change to ensure that the parks stay cold enough.”

 

“We also need urgent global action on climate change to ensure that the parks stay cold enough for animals such as polar bears and wild reindeer.”

Novaya-Zemlya-map.jpgWhile WWF is pleased with the park creation, it notes that the protected area is smaller than the 5 million hectares initially planned, the organization said in a statement.

“Despite the fact that the Russian Arctic Park is our big achievement, we’re sorry that not all planned territories were included in the park area,” says Oleg Sutkaitis, Head of the Barents Sea Ecoregional Office for WWF Russia.

“Franz Josef Land and Victoria Island were crossed out from the project, but we will now work on widening the park’s borders.”

Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn
  • Kevin

    It’s a very good news. It’s very nice that Russia took such actions. I believe that other countries should support this idea and do smth similar. I watched a documentary by Naionalgeographic (downloaded it at the torrents files search engine http://www.picktorrent.com ), so it was said that if nothing is done for wite bears they will extinct. It is the saddest forecast I’ve ever heard. So, i’m really very glad that Russia took actions to help the animals.

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  • jessie31

    The Arctic wildlife will have new habitats, which are closer to us!How lovely!!!

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