18 June 2009

Vast Arctic Park Established at Novaya Zemlya, Russian Republic

[Map of Novaya Zemlya from seabird report]

The Russian government has established an "arctic park" of 1.5 million hectares (ca. 3,706,580 acres or 5791 square miles) on the northern part of Novaya Zemlya island, in the Arctic Ocean between the Barents and Kara Seas.

The World Wildlife Fund, which announced the designation, "has long been lobbying for the park, which is also a key area for walrus, wild reindeer and bird population. The park creation excludes all industrial activities."

“This is exactly the sort of thing we need to see from Arctic governments,” said Neil Hamilton, Director of WWF's International Arctic Programme.

The area has long been recognized for its variety of birdlife, with one historic report for an 1895-1897 expedition.

An 1881 article by Captain H.W. Feilden, had additional notes on the historic ornithology. On the return of Captain A. H. Markham, R.N., from a cruise in Barents Sea and to Novaya Zemlya during the summer and autumn of 1879, he placed in my hands, for examination, his ornithological collection, consisting of some sixty well-preserved birds' skins, comprising twenty-six different species."

The text includes a detailed list of species noted at Lystina Island.

The remote place has been a haven for a number of bird species, and was the focus for another survey of resident seabirds in 1994 and mid-1995. Reports were issued for the two joint Norwegian-Russian expeditions to census seabirds, illustrated with scenes of the area.

In 1994, survey work was done between July 28 to August 16, and 34 bird species were documented (5.97 mb pdf file).

In 1995, "The field work was carried out in Gribovaya Bay and Bezymyannaya Bay in the period July 21 to August 2." There were 27 or 28 species of birds noted with detailed notes on seabirds presented (6.22 mb pdf file).

The diversity of birds was one reason for the establishment of the new park.

The WWF noted that the "protected area is smaller than the 5 million hectares initially planned."

“Despite the fact that the Russian Arctic Park is our big achievement, we’re sorry that not all planned territories were included in the park area,” said Oleg Sutkaitis, head of the Barents Sea Ecoregional Office for WWF Russia.

“Franz Josef Land and Victoria Island were crossed out from the project, but we will now work on widening the park’s borders.”

Silver Bay, West Coast, Novaya Zemlya. A view from the 1890s.

"When announcing the park, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he hoped it would be a major attraction for tourism, and announced that he personally plans to vacation there."

1 comment:

Jules said...

I had the pleasure of working offshore west of Novaya Zemla in 2010 and recorded a good number of surprising passerine species not mentioned in the NOF report referenced in the above post.

Further details can be seen here: http://www.naturalbornbirder.com/offshore/shtokman.html

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