Protected areas of Russia. GIS

A cartographic database on Russian federal protected areas

In 1999, a three-year project ‘Russia’s Forest Watch’ (World Resource Institute initiative) aimed to develop a reliable information source on Russia’s intact forest landscapes started. One of important results of this project became the publication of ‘Atlas of Russia’s intact forest landscapes’ in 2002-2003 (in English and Russian).

Sub-project ‘Mapping Russian federal protected areas’

In the framework of the above mentioned project, mapping of Russian federal protected areas was conducted in order to demonstrate which of the selected territories had already possessed a status of a protected area. In doing so, Russian federal protected areas were considered as strictly protected territories, completely or partly. The list included:

  • State reserves
  • State nature parks
  • Federal game reserves
  • Large federal nature monuments (with the area greater than 700 hectares).

Mapping was conducted, when possible, in a close contact with owners of original information sources (protected areas themselves; Department of Protected Areas of the Department of Environment Protection and Ecological Safety, Russian Ministry of Natural Resources; Hunting Department of the Department of Protection and Development of Hunting Resources, Russian Agriculture Ministry). Original documents such as an official Protected Area Statement (information about their area, description of boundaries) and additional records of the Russian government regarding changing of protected area boundaries were used to define boundaries of protected areas. Also a large archive of additional cartographic information was collected, with some information being provided by protected areas.

Mapping was based on topographic maps with the scale 1:200000 (1 cm is equal 2 km). It means that this project was and still is unique in Russia on its information accuracy.

In the framework of the project a lot of contradictions in protected area boundaries were detected (for example, boundary overlapping between federal game reserves, on one hand, and state reserves and nature parks, on the other). For instance, there is a large boundary overlap between the state reserve ‘Nenetsky’ and the federal game reserve ‘Nenetsky’, the game reserve ‘Sochinsky’ and the national park with the same name. The area of the state reserve ‘Erzi’ has not yet been excluded from the federal game reserve ‘Ingushsky’ and the federal game reserve “Tsaisky’ still includes some parts of the “Severo-Osetinsky’ state reserve. In some cases, official territory of a protected area differed from its calculated territory.

The developed cartographic basis is an important instrument for any decision making related to geography of protected areas and their interrelationships with surrounding objects. In particular, this is, probably, the only map where boundaries of protected areas were depicted on the basis of their description in Protected Area Statements, i. e. on the basis of official documents. Sometimes it led to serious contradictions with other available documents - different cartographic materials and publications. For example, more than 5 serious contradictions with boundaries shown on the General Staff of Army map 1:200000 were detected while depicting ‘Taimyrsky’ reserve boundaries using their description. So, this cartographic basis could be a foundation for conflict resolution between protected areas and land users (logging in protected areas, construction, etc.) and, probably, would help to avoid them.

Citing and copy-right

Unfortunately, there are more and more cases of unapproved or incorrect use of this cartographic basis or its fragments by other organizations, as well as of its incorrect citing. So you can find below an example of correct citing which is mandatory in any case of reproduction of the whole map or its fragments and layers or its fragments.

Cartographic database on Russian federal protected areas.
© World Resource Institute
© International Socio-Ecological Union
© Biodiversity Conservation Center

Additional information: Maxim Dubinin