ORGANISATION AND PLANNING
3.1. Development of the National Park Network
3.2. National Park Scheming
3.2.1. National Park Borders
3.2.3. Included Lands
3.2.4. Protected Zone
3.3. National Park Planning
3.3.1. Management Plans
3.4. National Parks in the Regional Socio-Economic Development
National Parks are multifunctional management objects with a complex
territorial structure. The main management objective of National Parks, both
in their own lands and in Included Lands, is to preserve their natural, aesthetic
and historico-cultural values and provide the opportunity for visitors and local
communities alike to interact with, and enjoy, the natural environment.
Planning and scheming works are the most important tools for a National Park’s
long term development and management. Some elements of these begin even before
a National Park’s designation and include territorial selection, negotiations
with local authorities and communities on borders and nature use regimes, and
the preparation of essential [regulatory] statements.
It is important that the management objectives of the National Park are addressed consistently throughout all stages of its designation.
3.1. DEVELOPMENT OF THE NATIONAL PARK NETWORK
The aim of National Park network creation is to maximally cover existing national natural diversity and preserve the most valuable natural and cultural heritage of highest aesthetical, environmental, scientific and cultural significance.
All proposals on National Park designation should be evaluated against a number of criteria. First of all, it is necessary to identify and value unique features of future National Parks. Their areas must meet all (or most) of the criteria listed below:
- good preservation of natural complexes (slightly damaged environment covers most of the total area; there are several large focuses of wilderness);
- significant landscape diversity (dissected medium-high mountainous relief with distinct altitudinal plant zones; lake areas; maritime areas with archipelagos and islands, deeply embedded water courses);
- significant biological diversity (combination of model areas representative for respective landscape regions with unique wildlife objects);
- unique genetic resources (habitats of rare and endangered animal and plant species, species included into the International Red Data Book and the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation, and species protected by international conventions);
- high recreational suitability (excellent opportunities for a wide range of recreational activities including tourism);
- picturesque/high aesthetic value (presence of natural phenomena with unique aesthetic features; high landscape diversity and extraordinary value of the area as a whole; and
- well-proportioned fragments of aesthetically valuable sections of the cultural landscape);
- comfortable natural and climatic conditions (climate is favourable, there are no factors limiting recreational activities significantly);
- historico-cultural value (presence of especially valuable monuments of cultural heritage: distinguished memorials of history, culture, archaeology, gardening and engineering art).
It is advisable to set a National Park’s borders along natural barriers, without unnecessary diversion or meandering; the area should be a single massif to ensure effective National Park management. Occasionally, it is possible to establish a National Park consisting of several discrete land sections, but this requires, in addition to environmental expertise, a more in-depth assessment of protection and management implications.
It is necessary to investigate the current socio-economic situation in the region when selecting a National Park area – it should not prevent decisions being made to terminate or sharply reduce natural resource utilisation.
The area of the Russian Federation is very large and its natural-climatic features are very diverse. The relatively high extent of natural heritage preservation makes it possible to designate National Parks in many valuable and unique areas, even when the selection criteria are very strict. It is neither possible, nor necessary, to designate National Parks in all suitable areas immediately. It is advisable to prioritise this process and designate National Parks, first of all, on the basis of the most valuable areas and endangered natural complexes of federal significance. Updated lists of areas recommended for National Park establishment at federal level should be approved every 5-10 years.
3.2. NATIONAL PARK SCHEMING
The area of every individual National Park is very heterogeneous. It is necessary, therefore, to identify the utilisation pattern and character of infrastructural development for each land section in the park. The contradictory nature of the various National Park objectives makes a National Park’s designation a difficult challenge – it is necessary to preserve samples of wild nature for future generations while simultaneously making it possible for people to visit without hindrance outstanding natural and cultural objects. There are a variety of tools available that allows mitigation of these contradictions including, primarily, optimal architectural-planning decisions, functional zonation, and management plans (including the participatory planning process).
The main planning document developed immediately after the governmental decision on National Park designation – the Scheme of National Park Organisation and Development (National Park Scheme) – resolves a number of planning issues, including the principal scheming decisions, establishment of protection and use regimes, identification of essential conservation and economic measures.
The National Park Scheme is the main planning-scheming document and defines the principal directions for the National Park’s functioning as a complex system over a 15-20 year perspective. The Scheme may be amended or revised, subject to appropriate justification.
The National Park Scheme integrates the interrelated processes of development for all stakeholders within a National Park in a single planning document and proposes the principal techniques to implement National Park’s objectives.
The National Park Scheme includes:
- A brief assessment of environmental conditions, valuable natural heritage, and historico-cultural monuments;
- Characterisation of eco-education and recreation resources and recreational capacity of the area;
- An assessment of the ecological situation and biota conditions;
- Socio-economic description of the region;
- Functional-scheming structure of the area and nature use regimes;
- Proposals on tourism and recreation development, tourism route establishment, territorial improvement, and location of main administrative, economic and recreation facilities;
- Actions related to biological resource protection, reproduction and use;
- Proposals on National Park administrative-economic structure and staff;
- Proposals on scientific research, monitoring and further scheming works; and
- Calculation of capital and maintenance costs essential for National Park establishment and development.
The National Park Scheme includes databases for National Park resources management systems including a GIS focused on addressing management issues for the entire National Park area and its Protected Zone.
The National Park Scheme should be considered a long-term planning and management document. The administration of new National Parks must, therefore, participate in the process of the National Park Scheme development.
The Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation approves the Scheme
after confirmation from the state ecological expertise.
3.2.1. National Park Borders
Identification of a National Park’s borders is a very important procedure in the designation process, as the border structure must be identified at the National Park territorial selection and agreement stage. The area of the National Park is calculated according to its borders, and includes the structure of its own lands and lands included without subtraction from economic use (Included Lands), and is recorded in the decision of the Government of the Russian Federation on National Park designation.
Small adjustments to National Park external borders are possible during the process of the National Park Scheme development, but only within the framework of the area set by the Governmental Statement. Change to a National Park’s area requires a new Statement of the Government of the Russian Federation. A similar procedure is required if the area had already been determined during land-planning or forest-planning works. It is necessary to prepare during the Scheme development all the relevant documents that provide for a National Park under the State Land Use Act, and also those required for amending the land cadastre in respect to any non-National Park lands (i.e. those of other stakeholders) that have been included into the National Park. This should be carried out in cooperation with the official land-planning bodies.
The diversity of natural heritage and management techniques as well as the multiplicity of visitor, economic, and community impacts are the principal management issues in a National Park. National Parks apply functional zonation – i.e. divide their area into zones with differentiated protection and use regimes – to resolve these issues effectively.
The main zonation features for each particular National Park are identified during the feasibility study (i.e. Economic-Ecological Justification – the principal pre-designation analysis of the proposed National Park site) and specified in its Scheme of Organisation and Development. The approved functional zonation is reflected in the NP Statement and is the main basis for decision-making on activities within the park.
Current legislation distinguishes the following functional zones that may be applied within Russian National Parks:
The Zapovednik Zone brings together areas of specific interest for observing natural environmental development processes without any human impact. The protection regime completely excludes economic and recreation impact on protected ecosystems. Admissible activities include scientific research, environmental monitoring and specific conservation actions.
The Specially Protected Zone includes land sections of specific environmental and education value unsuitable for zapovednik regime classification due to specific circumstances. The zone can also act as a buffer for the
zapovednik zone and provides conditions for conservation of natural complexes and objects while allowing strictly regulated recreational and economic uses. The protection regime in the specially protected zone must be aimed at preservation of natural communities including both typical (background) and unique vulnerable complexes and objects.
Together the zapovednik zone and specially protected zone constitute the ecological core of a National Park. Their area must not be less than 25% of the total National Park area.
The Educational Tourism Zone is designated along the main tourism routes and around objects that are valuable for public understanding and popular among visitors. It is set aside for environmental education and demonstration of the National Park’s unique natural and historical features. The main management objectives of this zone include the maximum preservation of natural and cultural landscapes. Visitors may only move along specially established routes with sightseeing points, campsites, resting and fishing sites.
The Recreation Zone includes land sections which optimally combine recreational resources and traditional resting sites. It is designated for short-term and long-term outdoor recreation.
Natural resource management in this zone is aimed at native natural communities conservation, restoration and improvement of biological sustainability. The purpose of bio-technical, protection and conservation forestry works is to mitigate the negative impacts of recreation on natural communities. National Parks regulate recreational streams through scheming techniques including complex enhancement of an area. Sport fishing, gathering berries, mushrooms, nuts, etc. Are possible and are managed through licence fees.
The Historico-Cultural Heritage Zone includes the area around specially protected historical and cultural objects within the National Park. Historico-cultural objects, registered as state monuments, can also be located in other zones where the protection regimes ensure monument preservation.
The regime of historico-cultural heritage protection must ensure preservation of those objects and be established with regard to the current historico-cultural monument protection legislation. The location and design of service objects and any improvements must not violate the historical appearance of landscapes. Any economic activity requires confirmation from the state bodies for monuments protection and the National Park authorities.
The purpose of the Service Zone is to receive visitors, accommodate them and allow for the provision of service. The total area of the service zone must be limited to meeting visitors’ need for “comfort” recreation.
Sections of this zone should be located near the principal National Park scheming nodes and transportation routes. The zone includes permanent all-year-round and seasonal tourism service facilities, visitor centres, museums, zoological displays, essential cultural, accommodation, and communication facilities, and National Park administrative-economic infrastructure.
The Economic Zone usually includes those lands not subtracted from economic use and National Park’s lands that have been identified for economic activities that are essential for the management of the National Park. The aim of management in this zone is to regulate resource utilisation, control resource utilisation standards and quotas, and prevent/mitigate activities that may damage the protected natural and cultural landscapes.
National Parks located in areas inhabited by indigenous people can include zones of traditional extensive nature use. Traditional economic activities, handicrafts, and related nature uses can be permitted in these zones. There are two main principles regulating extensive nature use zone designation for the benefit of indigenous nations in National Parks:
- the borders of such zones should be based on existing ethno-economic areas;
- the spatial structure, and joint resource management pattern must be relevant to the type of ethno-economic area, and take into account linkages between economic complexes and landscapes.
National Park administrations manage the natural resources in such zones in close collaboration with indigenous communities ensuring prompt restoration of utilised resources.
Specific Regime Zones can be designated in some National Parks that have specific management features. Such functional zones are distinguished along the frontier (Federal Act of the Russian Federation “On the State Border of the Russian Federation”). The purpose of this zone is to provide conditions for state border protection. The National Park authorities manage this zone in collaboration with the local border guard command.
Specific regime zones can also be designated around protected objects of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation and if the park area is crossed by mainline railways and other complex engineering systems.
It is not necessary to designate all possible zones in each National Park. The excessive complexity of zonation not only constrains the management process but also imposes additional costs. The functional zonation structure in each particular National Park must be simple, clear, sustainable, and reflecting the general direction of the National Park management.
The borders and regimes of functional zones may be adjusted over time subject to sufficient justification. Justification of changes to a functional zone must be based on multiyear observations which demonstrate the need to change the established regimes. Proposals on
functional zonation amendments become effective only after approval at federal level.
Management sub-zones or plots can be distinguished to reflect natural resource management features in particular areas within a zone. Regime restrictions in sub-zones may be permanent, seasonal or temporary. This ensures the essential flexibility of zonation and builds adaptive management capacity. All functional zones, except the zapovednik zone, would be expected to have strictly protected sub-zones around habitats of endangered animal and plant species where appropriate.
Management issues related to sub-zone designation or abolition, changes in protection/use regime, etc. Are most easily, and best resolved, during the development of the National Park’s Management Plan. The ongoing planning process and regular review of the Management Plan allows for timely and appropriate updating of the National Park’s functional-regime structure when required and ensures essential management flexibility.
3.2.3. Included Lands
The Strategy considers that National Parks should endeavour to increase the area of their own lands maximally by transfer or acquisition of non-arable agricultural lands and lands of other stakeholders whose activity do not correspond to National Park goals and objectives. However, it is necessary to recognise that in many cases only the presence of other land users maintaining traditional economic practices can maintain the unique historical appearance of the landscapes protected by a National Park.
3.2.4. Protected Zone
A Protected Zone with a restricted nature use regime is designated in areas and water areas adjoining National Park borders to protect its natural complexes against negative anthropogenic impact.
The Strategy considers that the Protected Zone is an important functional element of National Park territorial management. Legislative conservation control powers of the state inspection for National Park protection are of specific importance for Protected Zone management.
Protected Zone of a National Park does not necessarily need to be uninterrupted. Its depth may vary significantly. The following circumstances determine depth and length of particular sections of protected zone:
- regime of exterior zones (e.g. the zapovednik zone must be protected by a buffer area, while Included Lands do not require this);
- presence or threat of settlement development, small holdings, road/industrial construction in close proximity to National Park borders;
- wind rose, relief features and presence/threat of building enterprises polluting environment in close vicinity to National Park borders;
- structure and boundaries of water objects inside and outside the National Park;
- sightseeing requirements;
- necessity to establish areas of tourism and recreation infrastructure outside the National Park.
Economic activities in Protected Zone must consider legislative conservation restrictions and not damage National Park natural and historico-cultural heritage.
3.3. NATIONAL PARK PLANNING
It is necessary to endeavour consistently to reduce impacts and prevent/minimise economic damage within particular areas to preserve unique and model samples of the environment and historico-cultural values. It is necessary to recognise that preservation of both features – “unique” and “typical” – requires specific management today.
Effective National Park management is reinforced through the establishment of an ongoing planning process that allows rapid responses to changes caused by natural and anthropogenic processes, socio-economic and other conditions. Planning is based on knowledge of the subject and analysis of changes, it includes decision making on concrete management measures and actions.
The goal of National Park planning is to support the decision-making process, so reducing loss and risks, guaranteeing conservation of National Park values, and ensuring the effective functioning and development of the National Park as a management structure in the future.
To be effective, the management must be based not only on the understanding of all territorial, habitat and species components, but also on the understanding of component interaction and system creation. It is necessary to understand factors maintaining and threatening natural processes. Furthermore, management requires understanding of former and current use of resources, current and possible future impacts, and optimal utilisation patterns.
3.3.1. Management Plans
National Parks develop middle-term (up to 5 years) Management Plans involving experts and consultants on protected area planning and management. Management Plans consider actual National Park capabilities, condition of natural and historico-cultural heritage, and the current socio-economic context.
At the beginning of Management Plan development, it is necessary to identify a goal/system of goals and objectives for National Park management to be achieved. These must be defined accurately and clearly, so that interim and ultimate results of the management plan implementation can be measured and assessed against these accurately.
During the process of National Park goal identification, a number of issues and questions arise. Solutions to these can only be found in collaboration with those who can assist in their resolution (i.e. stakeholders). At the beginning of the planning process, therefore, it is necessary to identify all stakeholders and arrange a number of meetings, workshops and consultations with them to adjust roles of all parties in National Park resource conservation. Stakeholder involvement into National Park management through participation in the planning process would allow not only avoidance of future conflicts but also ensure more rational use of physical resources available.
The main objective of a Management Plan is not only to identify necessary actions, but also justify the advisability of measures proposed; identify who should implement them and when; and identify expected costs and funding sources.
It is necessary to ensure maximum continuity of the Management Plan with previous plans and provide possibilities to adjust it according to changing circumstances within the framework of goals and objectives identified in the plan.
Direct participation of National Park staff in Management Plan development is important to promote better understanding of personal objectives, implementation mechanisms and the basis for practical collaboration with local authorities and communities.
The Management Plan should become the mechanism for implementation of the State Management Strategy at National Park level.
The purpose of a Management Plan is to:
- identify and elaborate goals, objectives and principles of National Park
activities on heritage preservation;
- develop an information database and management guidelines for staff;
- reflect local participation in practical activities in territorial protection
and rational nature use;
- provide basis for collaboration between park’s, local and regional authorities;
- demonstrate implementation of national and international obligations related
to protected area management (e.g. state strategies, UNESCO “Man and Biosphere”
programmes, Conventions of World Heritage, etc.);
- introduce monitoring programmes;
- implement a system of public access to environmental information;
- provide conditions for involving additional funding.
The Management Plan must provide:
- clear management objectives of protected values for the planning period;
- priorities in objective implementation and physical resource distribution identified according to the governmental strategy, available resources and regional features;
- rules regulating management activities;
- an action plan supported by resources essential for objective implementation; responsible executives and partners;
- results that must be achieved by the date identified in the Management Plan.
A National Park may be located within one or several administrative or municipal districts. The Management Plan ensures conjunction and co-ordination of National Park management decisions with development plans of the surrounding areas. This is especially true for large National Parks linked with several rayons where the external environmental impacts are especially significant.
A Management Plan cannot resolve all regional issues. It must be focused, therefore, on the protected area objectives.
In addition to planning in park’s own lands, the Management Plan also addresses resource use issues in lands of other stakeholders included into the National Park without subtraction from economic use.
Management Plans should be approved at regional level and then submitted to the MNR of the Russian Federation. They become the basis for everyday National Park work only after approval in the Ministry.
Modern conservation experience demonstrates that the planning process itself
(the maintenance and updating of decision making) is the main prerequisite for
successful management. This process is ensured and maintained through the development
of annual operational management plans (Actions Plans).
Action Plans specify management activities for the next year, funding sources, and time-schedules. Operative planning also includes the development of specific management plans for concrete activities (fire prevention, visitor safety, etc.).
3.4. NATIONAL PARKS IN THE REGIONAL SOCIO-ECONOMIC
National Park integration into regional socio-economic systems
Each National Park should endeavour to become integrated harmoniously into
the regional socio-economic infrastructure. This is the only way to ensure sustainable
existence of the National Park system in modern Russia without threat or damage
to their key objective of natural and historico-cultural heritage preservation.
The application of National Park objectives has an impact on the social and economic development of the people and communities that live in and around a National Park. National Parks are directly interested in the sustainable socio-economic development of surrounding societies and close collaboration with local communities. It is not the responsibility of the National Park to replicate the responsibilities of state structures and local authorities in socio-economic development. The focus of the National Park’s inputs should be on how this development can be achieved in a manner which contributes to the realisation of the National Parks’ goals and objectives.
It is advisable to address practical integration of National Parks as federal state institutions the socio-economic frameworks of Russian regions in several aspects including:
National Park designation and management are linked with job creation due to budget allocations for park maintenance. This is especially true for regions with high levels of unemployment.
National Parks can and should contribute to the development of tourism and tourism infrastructure in their regions, including development of local handicrafts and community involvement into the visitor service industry. The most common forms of socio-economic integration include paid visitor services (e.g. provision of accommodation, feeding, guide services, trade, etc.) and production of goods for sale (organic foodstuff, souvenirs, handicrafts, etc.). Taxes received by regional and municipal budgets due to activities listed above are also significant.
The National Park can endorse the activities of enterprises operating within the Park by granting the right to use National Park official logos in labelling as a commendation of high-quality environmentally friendly production. The granting of this right should be governed by strictly defined rules and the enterprise monitored to ensure continued compliance with the rules.
The National Park should make available its knowledge to those who wish to develop businesses in and around the National Park including access to information on sustainable utilisation of natural resources, tourism development opportunities, etc.
It is necessary to seek tax privileges at regional and local level for enterprises whose activities are limited due to the National Park regime.
Some National Parks can contribute to the development of profitable game-hunting industry and arrangement of sport and non-professional fishery.
It is also necessary to note that National Park activities attract additional investment to the regions, including foreign investment.
National Parks, in collaboration with regional and local communities, can initiate Sustainable Livelihoods programmes targeting local communities.
National Parks should widely propagandise all benefits for their regions and communities living within and around them.
National Parks can be regional centres of environmental education. National Park activities and potential related to work with schoolchildren and liaison with education establishments are of specific practical interest for each region.
National Parks include a significant state inspector staff and their potential may be used for state environmental control purposes, including supervision of nature/resource conservation regulations and norms both within National Park areas and outside them. To achieve this, the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and its territorial branches should use the potential of special inspections for National Park protection maximally, including extension of areas controlled by inspections to neighbouring areas. Municipal conservation bodies can also be supported by National Parks significantly.
National Parks and local communities
National Parks need to recognise that low living standards and lack of economic development opportunities for rural people provoke resource use conflicts and worsen conservation conditions.
The interaction between National Parks and local communities should include various aspects, including:
- monitoring of public opinion of people living in close vicinity to National Parks through regular sociological canvasses and questionnaires;
- arrange regular round-tables and other events involving local people and devoted to issues falling within National Park jurisdiction;
- involve local people into environmental events organised and conducted by National Parks and conservation festivals;
- involve representatives of regional and local authorities and other regional and municipal structures into National Park science-technical councils;
- National Parks should participate in restoration of cultural objects, enhancement of “sacred” springs, conservation of “sacred” groves, etc., they should promote restoration of local cultural and spiritual traditions;
- establish local groups for National Park support and formalise them (e.g. Association of National Park’s Friends, etc.), promote activities of such groups fully.
The borders of many National Parks include areas inhabited by indigenous (aboriginal) people. Agreements form the basis for relations between National Park authorities and communities/tribes of
indigenous people that wish to maintain their traditional way of life in zones of traditional nature use in the National Park. The opportunity to maintain traditional non-exhaustive nature use, including hunting and fishing, must be considered the key factor ensuring conservation of cultural and spiritual heritage of indigenous communities.
The presence of indigenous nations maintaining their traditional way of life is an important factor of National Park attractiveness for tourists. Indigenous people with their experience in natural resource utilisation can, and should, make significant inputs into ecological education activities of the National Park.
National Parks should co-ordinate their everyday and perspective activities with regional development plans. The need for regional integration is heightened further if settlements and/or lands of other stakeholders are incorporated within the boundaries of the National Park.
Where significant amounts of private and other non- National Park lands occur within the National Park the establishment of a co-ordination body(s) to co-ordinate resource management and development of the National Park in the Included Lands is recommended.
The mechanisms for co-ordination between the National Park, local authorities, other legal entities and associations of individuals depend on local specifics and can take different forms. They should not duplicate the functions of the National Park directorate but rather serve as an additional management resource.
The main objectives of a co-ordinating body are:
- provide a forum for expression of stakeholder concerns, to avoid unnecessary conflicts and
duplication of efforts;
- ensure the sustained development of National Park and local communities.
A major responsibility of the co-ordinating body would be to identify areas and mechanisms for co-operation between structures of the National Park and its social surroundings.
Membership of the co-ordinating body could be partially elective; its structure must represent all major stakeholder groups. The exact nature, membership and responsibilities of the steering body should be defined in the appropriate Statement.
Role of stakeholders in National Park designation and planning
Stakeholder interests in a National Park vary significantly and can range from open hostility to comprehensive support. It is important to involve all stakeholders (both particular public groups and organisations representing certain social interests) into the planning of the National Park prior to any decision-making. This allows for the anticipation of potential conflicts and mitigation against them through a consensus participatory approach.
The following principles guide interrelations with national park stakeholders:
- involve stakeholders at earliest stages of planning;
- encourage people’s activities on natural and cultural heritage conservation;
- maintain continuous negotiation process and mutual consultations;
- involve professional consultants and specialists in public relations and
protected area management; and
- lobbying of local authorities.