EU-funded FLEG II Program has completed in February 2017. Learn more about the Program and its results, read the final reports, or contact us.
ADA-funded FLEG II Program has completed in December 2017. Learn more about the Program and its results, read the final reports, or contact us.
Yugyd Va National Park creates alliance of local interests to move from conflict to green development
KOMI REPUBLIC, RUSSIA—Yugyd Va National park staff recently created alliances with local citizens and businesses to help convert the park from a place of conflicts and contradicting economic interests to the point of sustainable, green economic development.
At almost 19,000 square kilometers, the park in the northern Ural Mountains is both Europe and Russia’s largest national park, yet many of the communities in and around the park are facing bankruptcy. Changing legal and economic conditions forced the closure of large-scale mining and logging operations in the area, and local communities found themselves caught between an unworkable past and an uncertain future. Today, the future of the local economy and the remaining infrastructure, which includes corporate resorts, a road system and bridges, remains uncertain.
Now, National Park officials are hoping to use this old logging and mineral extraction infrastructure to support a new industry—sustainable ecotourism. And there is reason to be optimistic. This park is well-known for its almost pristine boreal forests, deep caves and old quartz mines where tourists can still find colorful quartz crystals.
To make the transition, the park staff created a development alliance between the protected area, local individual entrepreneurs, active citizens, and larger extraction companies. The idea is to create partnerships between the businesses which hold this infrastructure and active citizens for developing start-ups which align with the strategic objectives of the National park: biodiversity and habitat conservation, environmental education, ecotourism and remediation of natural and cultural-historical landscapes.
With some input from the Forest Law Enforcement and Governance Program (FLEG II), the park held a series of events in August and September 2014 under the topic “Integrating protected areas into the processes of regional social-economic development.” Together with the Yugyd Va National Park staff, FLEG II consultants monitored the existing infrastructure suitable for development of ecotourism and the experience of the National park in engaging local citizens and businessmen into joint environmentally-oriented and responsible projects. The approach helped to avoid destructive competition for the existing resources between the National Park, businesses and citizens.
Experts underlined the importance of using former quartz extraction enterprises’ lodges, resorts and road and bridges network and especially quartz mines and natural caves at the territory of the National Park for developing ecotourism. The mines and dumping areas near them proved to be some of the most promising attractions. Tourists can try their fortune and dig-out colorful crystals themselves.
The National Park team enriched this initial ecotourism “backbone” with additional ecotrails, cave excursions and camp fire places in some of the most picturesque sites in the park. These initiatives have already created jobs for local people with minimum damage to the environment.
“Forming local, environmentally oriented development alliances between protected areas, local entrepreneurs and communities helps to reduce unemployment and provides legal business opportunities for citizens in the area,” said Andrey Zaytsev, FLEG II country program coordinator for International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Russia. “This in turn will help counteract illegal logging, uncontrolled non-timber forest resources collection and poaching.”
FLEG II Program consultants and Yugyd Va National park development alliance agreed to continue cooperation in monitoring, evaluating an replicating mechanisms of sustainable forest resources use in the park. FLEG II partnered with the park as part of its work on supporting legal and sustainable forest resources use by local communities in Russia.
Yugyd Va National Park, established in 1994, is located in Komi Republic (NW Russia), in the outskirts of the Northern Ural Mountains.
FLEG II is supported by the European Union as part of its work with the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument East Countries (ENPI) and is implemented by IUCN, World Bank and WWF. It aims to promote sustainable forest governance, management, and protection of forests in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine, ensuring the contribution of the region's forests to climate change adaptation and mitigation, to ecosystems and biodiversity protection, and to sustainable livelihoods and income sources for local populations and national economies.