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News Alert

October 2004
Picture for future management of Russia’s Protected Areas becomes clearer

For months following President Vladimir Putin’s March 9 edict, which reconfigured the organizational structure of the executive branch of the Russian government, it was unclear how and by whom the country’s federal system of protected nature areas would be managed.  

It was only late this summer that a decree by the Federal Government (Decree No. 400, drafted  July 30, 2004 and enacted  August 19, 2004) established that organizational and functional management of Russia’s federal-level protected areas would reside within a new organ, the Federal Service for Oversight in the Sphere of Nature Use. At the same time, an order by the Ministry of Natural Resources (Order No. 608, drafted August 10, 2004), stipulated that responsibility for legal regulation and legislation in the sphere of specially protected nature areas would reside within separate departments and divisions in the Ministry.

Thus, within the structure of the Russian government, there are now three separate divisions, within two different organs of executive power, that fulfill some role vis-à-vis the country’s federal protected areas system.

The first of these three divisions is the Division of Specially Protected Nature Areas.  This division is located within the Department of Specially Protected Nature Areas, Ecological Assessment, and Permits. This department, in turn, is located within the Federal Service for Oversight in the Sphere of Nature Use. 

The remaining two divisions are located within the Ministry of Natural Resources. The first of these is the Division of Legal Regulation in the Sphere of Specially Protected Nature Areas, within the  Department of State Ecological Policy. The second is the Division for Legislation on Specially Protected Nature Areas and the Animal World, within the Legal Department.

Prior to the governmental restructuring, the management of Russia’s protected areas fell within a single department within the Ministry of Natural Resources-- the Department of Specially Protected Nature Areas.  This department had five divisions and was staffed by more than 20 specialists and experts in the field of protected areas management.  This integrated structure facilitated effective management of the nation’s protected areas system by uniting within one administrative body functions related to the system’s legal, financial, and material support. Decision making was operative and efficient, and channels for information exchange and communication were clear.

The power and authorities of these three new divisions have not yet been established, and while division directors were named in September, work still continues to identify staff.  Even when all positions are filled, staffing levels of these new divisions will be low compared to that of the former Department of Specially Protected Nature Areas.  Few staff from the former Department of Specially Protected Nature Areas, including its head Vsevelod Stepanitsky, are expected to assume positions within this new structure.

Because this is still a developing situation, it is premature to speculate about the impacts these changes will have on Russia’s protected areas system and its management.  Please continue to visit this site for updated information.

By Natalya Troitskaya and Melissa Mooza, editors for Russian Conservation News.

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