Reserve experts urge the State Duma to postpone the second reading of the draft law on recreation in protected areas

Reserve experts urge the State Duma to postpone the second reading of the draft law on recreation in protected areas

The recently created Expert Council on Reserve Affairs sent an appeal to the leadership of the State Duma with a request not to submit for the second reading a draft law on regulating recreational activities in specially protected natural areas. This was reported on the website of the Council.

According to experts, the bill is “unsuccessful” and needs to be significantly improved, since in its current form it carries risks and threats to the country's nature reserve system.

“The need for such an appeal is due to the obvious omissions that abound in this bill, its adoption in the current version will have negative consequences for the system of state nature reserves and national parks in Russia,” the report says.

According to experts, this draft law, which is awaiting the second reading, provides for fundamental changes to a number of legislative acts and, first of all, to the law “On Specially Protected Natural Territories”.

“In the submitted materials, the members of the Expert Council, in particular, noted that the bill runs counter to the repeatedly expressed public position of the President of Russia on the development of eco-tourism in specially protected natural areas,” the report says.

In particular, according to scientists, in a message to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation in 2019, it was said about the need to legislate that only eco-tourism is possible in reserves.

“However, this draft law does not at all provide for the use of the term ecotourism itself in the Federal Law “On Protected Areas”, moreover, it excludes from the law the concept of educational tourism that is close to it, replacing it with the generalized concept of “tourism”. Thus, this allows developing other types of tourism (sports, pilgrimage, fishing, etc.) in nature reserves and specially protected areas of national parks that are incompatible with their functionality,” the council believes.

Scientists also complain that “the developers of the bill ignored numerous comments and suggestions from the professional community, incl. expressed during the discussion in the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation”.

“The Expert Council on Reserve Affairs considers it necessary to postpone the adoption of the draft law No. 1130300-7 for the second reading and ensure its further significant revision, including with the involvement of a professional expert community,” the council’s website says.

An appeal to the leadership of the State Duma with specific proposals for improving the bill was signed by the co-chairs of the Expert Council on Reserve Affairs - Doctor of Economics, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Scientific Director of the Institute of Water Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences Viktor Danilov-Danilyan and Honored Ecologist of the Russian Federation, Advisor to the General Director of ANO "Far Eastern Leopards" Vsevolod Stepanitsky.

A number of members of the Expert Council, scientists and practitioners in the field of ecology and nature management, took part in the preparation of the opinion on the bill. Among them are Vyacheslav Rozhnov, head of the RAS Scientific Council on the Ecology of Biological Systems, professors Sergey Buzmakov and Alexander Khoroshev, Honored Ecologists of the Russian Federation Yuri Darman and Evgeny Shvarts, director of the Zapovedniki Ecological and Educational Center Natalya Danilina and others.

The Expert Council on Reserve Affairs was established on January 10, 2023 in order to consolidate the efforts of an independent professional expert community in the field of territorial nature protection. It consists of 90 specialists with many years of practical experience in the field of environmental protection.
# Russia
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