On April 22, 2003, the Minister of Natural Resources signed decree No.
342 approving a strategic plan entitled "The main directions for
developing the system of state zapovedniks and national parks in the Russian
Federation through 2015." The document was prepared under leadership
of the system's long-time director, Vsevolod Stepanitsky, taking into
consideration experience and results of work in zapovedniks and national
parks in the post-Soviet period. The plan aims to improve conservation,
scientific research, environmental education, and other activities in
the protected areas system. The decree signifies that the Ministry of
Natural Resources -- having taken over the resposibilities of the Committee
for Protection of the Environment and Natural Resources and the Forest
Service in May 2000, which included management of the zapovednik and national
parks systems -- will uphold the country's commitment to conserve unique
and intact ecosystems in the protected areas network.