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Conservation Problems

With the expansion of agricultural land use, peat extraction and building in the twentieth century, people have destroyed bogs, drained flood plains, and straightened the course of rivers. As a result, many natural ecosystems have been damaged, and the numbers of fish, wildfowl, mushrooms and berries have fallen. Today it has become uneconomic to maintain many areas of reclaimed land. Forests and peat beds on land that has been drained burn easily. Such areas need their hydrological regime restoring, through methods including filling in and closing down old reclamation systems.

Every spring, grass fires break out in the meadows and pastureland. These kill and destroy beneficial insects, birds' nests and the shoots of important forage grasses. Tall wild grasses prosper in the areas that have been scorched. It is necessary for agricultural concerns to prevent or put out fires on their land and for the fire services to assist them in this, without waiting until a forest, peat bed or village is on fire. The principle value of the forests of the Homeland of the Crane lies not in their cubic metres of timber, but in the fact that they keep the water and air clean, support the water regime, sustain rare species of flora and fauna, on land rich in opportunity for hunting and for gathering mushrooms and berries, and provide conditions for outdoor recreation. Today, extensive clear-felling, including sanitation felling, is doing great damage to forests in Moscow Province. There should be a change to a more sparing regime of forest use in the Homeland of the Crane, including a well-thought-out system of selective felling capable of ensuring that natural forest cover is renewed more effectively.

There are thousands of dacha settlements in and around the clearings, bogs, river valleys and old peateries. Development has broken up natural features, destroyed the Belskoye bog, and done irreparable damage to the hunting reserve. To preserve the integral natural feature of the Homeland of the Crane, there should be a ban here on new dacha associations and on building work outside already-existing population settlements.

Another serious threat to our bogs is plan to construct an underground water-extraction plant to supply Moscow. A panel of ecology experts has rejected this project, which threatens to drain bogs and shoal rivers, but it is still being worked in the inner corridors of the Moscow authorities. The problem of the capital's water supply would be better resolved by saving water and keeping the catchment basins of already-existing water supply sources in the ecological condition they should be in. The destruction of the last major wetlands system in Moscow Province would be yet another blow to the region's environment.

We hope the government of Moscow Province will conclusively reject this project, and that it will suggest that the capital sorts out the surface water supply sources currently in use instead. The necessity of preserving the wetlands is becoming obvious, and not just experts. Locals and district authorities are showing every greater interest in and concern for the bogs. The Taldom administration publishes a special decree every year ensuring the protection of the sanctuary during the autumn period when the cranes migrate.


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