A watershed meeting took place in Moscow on 2 February between the Ministry for Natural Resources and Environment, the Chair of the National Committee in the Russian Federation, the IUCN Pan-European Regional Director (a.i.) and the European Vice-Chairs of the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management and the World Commission on Protected Areas to discuss IUCN’s programme in the Russian Federation.
A second meeting with all IUCN Members in the Russian Federation took place the following day. Dr Hans Friederich, IUCN Pan-European Regional Director explained: IUCN is temporarily closing its current office in Moscow, but this visit confirms our intention to strengthen our presence in the Russian Federation later in the year. IUCN will be working closely with the Ministry and its other Members in the Russian Federation and in the interim, the National Committee will represent our interests.
This is one of the first times that IUCN brings together its Secretariat, its Commissions and its Members to develop its programme in a particular country. Mr N. Inamov, Director for International Cooperation of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, who lead the discussions, said: “this discussion with the delegation from IUCN is an important step in the re-positioning of IUCN as one of the main players in nature conservation and sustainable development in the Russian Federation.
The discussions reviewed the current situation, and touched upon organizational matters for a new office in Moscow and a stronger role for the National Committee. Mr Amirkhan Amirkhanov, IUCN Councillor and Deputy Director of State Environmental Policy and Environmental Protection in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment pointed out: the first step in re-establishing the IUCN presence in Moscow is the preparation and signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between IUCN and the Russian Federation.
Most of the time was spent on reviewing substantive issues. Stig Johansson, European Vice-Chair for the World Commission on Protected Areas said: “a recent review and gap analysis of protected areas was carried out in Russia, and we wanted to discuss whether a national consultation about this study would be in the interest of Members and the Ministry”. A meeting is now planned later in the year.
One of the recent developments, announced during the meeting is the designation of Ingermanlandsky State Nature Reserve in the Gulf of Finland. This former naval base is on the European Green Belt, and is a trans-boundary reserve between Finland and the Russian Federation. Rustam Sagitov, Chair of the IUCN National Committee in Russia said: “The establishment of this reserve is one of the contributions of the Russian Federation during the International Year of Biodiversity. The quality of the natural vegetation is spectacular, as the islands have been closed to the public for several decades”
Other issues that were touched upon included the International Year of Biodiversity, the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, the September 2010 Tiger Conference in Vladivostok, updating the Russian Red List of Threatened Species and restoration of the population of the Central Asian leopard in the western Caucasus.