Russia has a total of 48 national parks whose establishment began in the late 1980s. The oldest national park is the Losiny Ostrov which was established in 1983 and occupies an area of 44.8 square miles. These national parks have been set aside for the protection of the natural environment, for ecological education and the preservation of the beauty, and historical value found in some of these parks. The Russian national parks are all placed under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. Some of these parks have been listed as UNESCO Biosphere reserves due to their unique characteristics. All the national parks in Russia are classified under protected areas and are governed by the Russian Law of Protected areas.
Russia's National Parks
Beringia National Park
Beringia is the largest national park in Russia with an area of 11,788 square miles and was established as a national park in 2013. The park is located in the north-western part of Russia on the Chukotka Peninsula. The climate of the parks region is sub-arctic with long, very cold winters and short cool summers. The park is set on a highland tundra area with elevations of between 900m and 1200m. The park is home to a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna including polar bears, big-horned sheep and the Pacific walrus which are exposed to threats of climatic change in the Arctic region.
Yugyd Va National Park
Yugyd Va is the second largest national park in Russia with a total area of 7,303.9 square miles established in 1994 by the government to protect the vast biodiversity in the region. The park supports about 180 bird species, twenty fish species, five amphibian species, one reptile species, and some mammal species. Many of the species in this park are rare. The species occupy the taiga boreal and tundra forests and alpine and river meadows as their habitats. The park is located in the remote parts of Komi making it a rarely visited site. The park provides protection and conservation facilities for the species therein as well as recreational facilities for tourists. The park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
The Russian Arctic National Park
The Russian Arctic National Park was established in 2009 and occupies an area of 5,505.8 square miles making it the third largest national park in Russia. The park occupies part of the land and a part of the Arctic Ocean making it necessary in the protection of marine mammals. The park was set aside to protect the diversity of the flora, fauna, and the cultural heritage in the area. The area is an important cultural site due to the 16th-century discovery of the Arctic regions and their subsequent colonization. The park was formally polluted with waste debris accumulated from the Soviet era which destroyed the beauty of the lands as well as risked the plants and animal species with pollution.
Tukinsky National Park
The park is found in the mountainous regions of central Siberia in the Tunka River valley covering a total of 4,570.1square miles. The area has a sub-arctic climate with a precipitation of 595mm per annum. The park is found in areas of fertile soils with rift and glacial valleys, lakes, springs, meadows, waterfalls, and alpine. Taiga and tundra forests which create a unique ecosystem that supports about 300 species of animals some rare or endangered, 54 mammal species, 207 birds, 18 fish species, four amphibian and five reptile species. Some of the unique species here include the endangered snow leopard and the Asiatic wild dog. Plant species in the park include coniferous and taiga forests, forest steppe vegetation, more than 900 vascular plants as well as many endemic and threatened plant species.
Bikin National Park
Bikin was established in 2015 and is the fifth largest national park in Russia with an area of 4,480 square miles. The park is located in the mountainous terrain of the Primorsky Krai and is in the process of infrastructural development to protect the vast pristine forests, the Amur Tiger whose population is low and other vulnerable species as well as the cultural heritage of the indigenous people of the region. The park has a humid continental climate with more than 50 species of mammals, 194 species of birds and mixed forests of conifer and deciduous trees. The park has two main rivers flowing through it; the Ussuri River and the Bikin River.
The Pripyshminskiye Bory National Park
The park was established in 1993 in the West Siberian Plain to protect the pine and birch forests in the Pripyshminskiye region. The park is divided into two sections; one on the bank of Pyshma river and the other towards the north-eastern side Tugulymsky District. The section on the river bank is relatively flat with coniferous forests of spruce, pine, and larch while the second section is mainly made up of wetlands including swamps, floodplains created by the Pyshma River. The park experiences a humid continental climate with warm to hot summers and cold to severe winters. The river system supports some freshwater fish such as the loach and dace.
The Anyuysky National Park
The park was established in 1999 and occupies an area of 1,658 square miles in the Anyuy River basin and experiences a humid continental climate. The park connects the floodplain of Amur to the forested mountains of Sikhote-Alin. The park supports some wetland species and fish due to its vast networks of mountain streams. Other habitats in the park include taiga and sub-taiga forests, floodplains and marshes. The region has the Ussuri broadleaf and mixed forests which support a large number of endemic species and endangered species such as the Amur tiger, mountain weasel, Asian black bear and the long-tailed birch mouse. Unique plant species in this park include the Mongolian oak and the Korean pine. Threats to the ecosystem of this park are mainly illegal logging.
The Vodlozersky National Park
The park has been protected as a biosphere reserve with the primary purpose of conserving and protecting the social-cultural interactions with the natural ecosystems in ways that are sustainable. The park has quite a diverse number of ecosystems within its area of 1,652.5 square miles including mires, lakes, rivers, boreal coniferous and taiga forests which are home to a variety of plant and animal species.
The Shorsky National Park
The park was established in the forested mountains of south-western Siberia in 1989 making it one of the oldest parks in Russia. The park covers an area of 1,613.9 square miles, 92% of which is covered in forests. The park has a mountainous terrain with the highest elevation at 1,555m above sea level. The terrain is marked by deep river valleys, streams, springs caves and unique limestone cave features. The park has four distinct seasons within the humid continental climate. The park has more than 1300 plant species within its ecosystems with more than 200 animal species.
The Role Of National Parks In Russia
While establishing her national parks, Russia had in mind the protection and conservation of fragile and threatened ecosystems and species as well as the promotion of eco-tourism which was aimed at opening up the areas. Tourism in these areas is regulated by national, local and regional laws which are established by every individual protection area. The national parks also serve as areas of research. Other important national parks include Pribaikalsky, Zabaykalsky, Sochinsky, Samarskaya, Prielbrusye, Bashkiriya, and Mariy Chodra national parks.