A public campaign aimed at gaining public support for protected natural areas, “March for Parks” is conducted by BCC annually since 1995. The campaign involves more than two hundred state and non-governmental organizations as local co-organizers and several hundred thousands of participants in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, and the Central Asian republics of the former USSR. Its supporters include the State Committee for Environmental Protection and the Federal Forestry Service of Russia.
The campaign presents the public with multiple opportunities to learn more about their local nature reserves, wildlife refuges, and national parks, through participation in round tables and press-conferences, festivals and concerts, excursions and exhibitions, volunteer cleanups and other events promoting the prosperity of natural heritage. In preparing and directing these events, BCC members are assisted by dozens of charitable foundations, TV and radio programs, and publishing agencies.
Raising financial support for nature protection, with particular emphasis on stimulating domestic donors, has always been a special concern of the campaign. Charitable donations to specially protected natural areas over the past five Marches amount to $650,000. Since 1998, the Program maintains an Honor Book of sponsors, about 500 of who have already received charity certificates.
“March for Parks” has proven so successful that Russian experts have proposed its inclusion into the Program on the development of the Pan-European Ecological Network.
In 1997, the campaign members who were instrumental in its conception and implementation (Irina Chebakova, Margaret Williams, Dmitry Daushev, and Alexander Misailov) were awarded the Henry Ford European Conservation Award. In 1998, its coordinator, Irina Chebakova, was granted the Rolex Award for Enterprise in recognition of her role in initiating and conducting “March for Parks” over the 4-year period.