Project UNDP / GEF / Ministry of Russia Improvement of the system and mechanisms for protected area management in the steppe biome of Russia
UNDP
GEF
Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of Russian Federation
CONSERVATION OF STEPPES IN RUSSIA


Заповедники Оренбуржья Сайт Даурского заповедника
Сайт Центрально-Черноземного заповедника Сайт заповедника Черные Земли

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Context of the project Improving the Coverage and Management Efficiency of Protected Areas in the Steppe Biome of Russia

Steppe ecosystems are represented very poorly in the federal protected area network of Russia. There is noinventory of steppe areas which exist within the PAs of Russia, so the coverage of steppes by the PA system could be assessed very roughly.  Such assessment would tell us that there are at least some areas of steppe ecosystems in the 27 nature zapovedniks, eight national parks and 15 zakazniks of all existing federal protected areas. The total area of these protected areas is nearly 70 000 km2 (3.5% of the total area of all federal PA). However in most of them grasslands occupy a very small part of the territory and they are not the main object of protection. Only 15 PA of this list can be considered steppe PAs, although steppes occupy less than half of the territory. The Orenburgsky zapovednik is the only federal PA which could be considered a steppe PA; in the Daurskiy and Rostovskiy zapovedniks the share of steppe ecosystems is more than 50% of the area. In all other federal PAs the major part of the territory is occupied by other ecosystems – forest, wetland, desert, etc. In addition, many of these protected areas are small in total area. Rough estimate of the total area of steppe plots within these 15 PAs gives us an area of about 180 000 ha, which is less than 0.15% of all federal protected areas. Towards the total area of the steppe biome in Russia this share is even smaller, it has been estimated (more or less accurate data doesn’t exist) as 0.11%.

 Steppes are  better represented in the regional PAs. There is no doubt that steppe ecosystems area in these PAs is bigger than in the federal PA network. However, the coverage of the steppe ecosystems by the regional PA network makes only  about 1% of the biome. Moreover the quality of protection in the regional PAs is significantly lower.

At the same time the PA system has a huge, though weakly realized potential to save steppes. Firstly new steppe arrays should be included in the PA net. But also the participation of the administrations of PA in environmental management within the buffer zones and the efforts to recover the destroyed steppes around PAs should be increased, as well as the involvement of the PA staff in the protection of steppe plants and animals outside the protected areas .

The current system of protected areas in Russia remains the main and almost only legal and administrative tool for the steppe ecosystem conservation. Although the principles of protection and non-destructive use of forest and water ecosystems are at least formally included into the relevant sectoral legislation and management practices of relevant agencies, there is nothing similar for steppes.

The objective of the UNDP/GEF project is to stimulate and help realizing this potential and enhance the role of PA in steppes conservation in Russia. This also refers to increasing the feasibility of the existing PA network for the conservation of the steppes and increasing the area of steppe ecosystems under protection.

Basic principles applied in the Project design

  • Practical focus on the conservation of the steppes and increasing protection of steppe species.
  • Save the steppes based on PA network  but not limited to the PAs.
  • Focusing on the needs of PAs and other key stakeholders including the federal Ministry of Natural Resources an Ecology and the pilot  regions.
  • Attention to the already existing initiatives for the steppes conservation.
  • Increasing the visibility and value of the steppes in the opinion of key stakeholder groups.
  • Transparency of the procedures, and engagement of various experts into project implementation.

The three main Components of the project are: (i) Consolidation and expansion of the system of steppe protected areas; (ii) Strengthened operational management capacities for PA site management; and (iii) Strengthened institutional management capacities for managing an expanded PA system.  Typically for the GEF, the main activities are concentrated in four demonstration regions and the four steppe zapovedniks. It is Republic of Kalmykia (Biosphere Zapovednik “Chernye Zemli” CZZ), Kursk and Orenburg regions (Central Chernozem Biosphere, CCZ, and Orenburg Nature, OZ, Zapovedniks) and Daurian  steppes as a part of the Zabaikalsky Krai (Daursky Biosphere Zapovednik, DZ). . Apart from the activities in the pilot regions, measures at the national level are also planned. Three of the four selected regions among all steppes sites of Russia are the biggest ones according to the area of preserved steppe ecosystems. The respective zapovedniks are among the five most important SPA in Russia (along with Rostovskiy and Ubsunurskaya Kotlovina). Together these pilot sites represent three main longitudinal sectors of the steppe zone of Eurasia – Prichernomorsky (Kalmykia), Zavolzhsko-Kazakhstansky (Orenburg region and a part of Kalmykia) and Dauro-Mongolsky (Dauria). Kursk region and CCZ supply this list of key steppe regions and at the same time  provide an example of  critically endangered ecosystems of the European meadow steppes.

Under Component 1 it should be achieved a significant increase in the territory of steppe protected areas as a whole (including buffer zones) and the status and/or legal protection of existing ones. Particularly zapovednik “Chernye Zemli” should be given control of three desert-grassland federal zakazniks (“Tingutinski “, “Mekletinsky” and “Sarpinsky”) with a total area of 496.2 hectares, the territory and CCZ buffer zone should be expanded (8 hectares), the buffer zone of zapovednik should be expanded on 20 thousand hectares in the Orenburg region,  five steppe natural monuments should be created (with total area of not less than 30 hectares) in Orenburg region, the territory of DZ should increase by 14-30 thousand hectares and its buffer zone – by 20-50 thousand hectares, additionally a federal steppe zakaznik “Dolina dzerena” (200 hectares) and regional forest-steppe zakaznik (50 hectares) are off to create in Dauria.

In all demonstration regions Conservation Plans for the Steppe Landscapes should be developed and based on them SPA Expansion Strategies and Implementation Plans of these Strategies. Similar documents will be prepared at the national level. As part of this work a number of additional studies will be done including key steppe area inventory in Russia.

In addition to supporting traditional protected areas, for the first time the project holds out hope of creation the alternative forms of preserved steppe areas in Russia, based on agreements with landowners and land users. It is not a new idea but for the first time it can be supported by the environmental agencies in Russia. Especially on the example of the “Orenburgskaya tarpania” SMSA managed by a non-governmental organization will be tested.

Within Component 2 it will developed an Integrated Fire Management Strategy and Action Plan in each of the four demonstration areas of the project and relevant SPAs. Especially in recent years steppe fires became an extremely important factor that may sometimes favor the steppe ecosystem but often represents a serious threat for them.

The project also tries to solve the problem of steppe ecosystems restoration  within the extensive areas so that it can have a noticeable effect on the conservation of the steppe biome. Therefore the main selected method is approval of land-users in the creation of crop mixtures steppe species of grasses (wheat grass, lucerne, esparcet) with the condition not to interfere with the natural steppe formation.

Plans for management and conservation for several endangered species of steppe ecosystems should be developed in the project, such asMongolian gazelle and Pallas’ cat in Dauria, steppe eagle in all four regions, the saiga in Kalmykia, little bustard in Kalmykia and the Orenburg region, several species of feather grass and spring adonis in Kursk region. In addition, the project will support the reintroduction of the Przewalski horse into the “Orenburgskaya tarpania” and the steppe marmot in the CCZ buffer zone. Among the Project objectives area al thepreparation of the Strategies and Action Plans for conservation/management of two endangered species populations: the bustard and sociable lapwing, as well as steppe waterfowls.

Component 3 will include a number of practical measures to assist in the technical equipment of PAs and staff training and development (or adaptation to the steppe specifics) management plans four demonstration zapovedniks. Attention will be paid to transboundary issues of conservation of steppe ecosystems: the DZ participation in the International Protected Area “Dauria” and OZ interaction with the local government adjacent territories of Kazakhstan. As well as it will attempt to create a Russian-Kazakh steppe protected area on the border of Orenburg and Aktobe regions.



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PILOT REGIONS OF THE PROJECT
Забайкальский край Республика Калмыкия Курская область Оренбургская область


Discussion

Thursday December 15th, 2016

(Russian) «Сайгак и его соседи: как “решить степные задачки” зверям, птицам и людям» – завершена подготовка новой книги для семейного чтения

Владимир Смирин. Сайгачонок. Набросок с натуры. 1968

(Russian) Книга «Сайгак и его соседи: как решить “степные задачки” зверям, птицам и людям» подготовлена Центром охраны дикой природы при поддержке Степного проекта ПРООН/ГЭФ/Минприроды РФ.
Заявки на книгу принимаются до 30 декабря 2016 г.

Wednesday December 14th, 2016

(Russian) Завершена подготовка антологии «Сохранение степных экосистем»

Даурские степи. Фото А.Н. Барашковой

(Russian) В рамках Степного проекта ПРООН/ГЭФ/Минприроды России завершена подготовка антологии «Сохранение степных экосистем». Работу проводил Центр охраны дикой природы совместно со многими коллегами – специалистами по вопросам охраны степей.
Заявки на антологию принимаются до 30 декабря 2016 г.

Project news

Strategy of the Steppe Eagle conservation in the Russian Federation

Стратегия сохранения степного орла в Российской Федерации

The Strategy is aimed at developing a long-term system of fundamental principles and methods for the species’ conservation and takes into account the ecological processes in steppe ecosystems occurring under the impact of climate change and humans.

Finished the modelling of habitats suitable for steppe ungulates in Kalmykia and Zabaikalsky Krai

Рис. 3. Существующие и планируемые ООПТ в местообитаниях дзерена в Забайкальском крае. Приоритетность территории для создания новых ООПТ для охраны дзерена

(Russian) В 2016 г. в рамках проекта ПРООН/ГЭФ/Минприроды России «Совершенствование системы и механизмов управления ООПТ в степном биоме России» проводилась оценка площади местообитаний, пригодных для дзерена в Забайкальском крае и для сайгака в Республике Калмыкия.

(Russian) Вынесен судебный приговор по делу о незаконном отлове сокола-балобана в окрестностях Даурского заповедника

Балобан, изъятый у браконьеров в октябре 2016 г. в окрестностях Даурского заповедника, Забайкальский край. Фото предоставлено Даурским заповедником

(Russian) В Забайкальском крае в с. Нижний Цасучей 19 декабря 2016 г. состоялся суд по уголовному делу о незаконном отлове сокола-балобана двумя гражданами Сирии в окрестностях Даурского заповедника.

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