The Russian Federation, as the legal successor of the former USSR, has been a Ramsar Contracting Party since 1975. Russia has designated 35 wetlands for the Ramsar List; the total area of these sites is over 10.3 million hectares.
Wetland conservation in Russia is not confined to the protection of Ramsar sites. Large wetland areas are conserved as parts of protected natural areas: c. 9,000,000 ha of wetlands are protected within the strict nature reserves (zapovedniki), c. 5,300,000 ha, in the federal sanctuaries and wildlife refuges (zakazniki), 650,000 ha, in the national parks, and c. 60,000,000 ha of wetlands are protected at the local level. Outside protected natural areas, wetland management is regulated by a number of laws (Federal Laws ‘On the Conservation of the Natural Environment’, ‘On Environmental Impact Assessment’, ‘On Wildlife’, and the Water and Forest Codes, etc.).
Russia is the world's largest country, covering 17 million km2. For the most part, this huge territory is presented by flat lowlands and has a humid climate. As a result, the country possesses vast areas of wetlands, including peatlands of various types (raised bogs, fens, and transitional mires) covering 1.8 million km2, 120,000 rivers with a total length of 2,300,000 km, 2 million lakes with a total volume of 370,000 km3, and diverse marine wetlands occurring over a 60,000-km stretch of the national coastline.
These wetlands support a rich and globally significant diversity of plants and animals. The total population of swans, geese, ducks and coots in the country is estimated at 80 million individuals.
Ramsar sites in Russia
The majority of the Russian Ramsar sites are large complex habitats and include wetlands of various types. Eight out of 35 sites are primarily represented by marine wetlands, and the rest are inland natural wetland complexes with a high proportion of floodplain and deltaic riverine complexes and lakes. Peatlands are protected in 19 out of 35 Ramsar sites, covering 946,000 ha or 9% of the total area of Ramsar sites, although it should be noted that only 2 sites have been specially designated to protect peatland ecosystems.
The importance of wetlands for the conservation of migratory water birds at all stages of their life cycle has traditionally been the major criterion for identifying wetland sites to be listed under the Ramsar Convention. For this reason, all existing Ramsar sites are important breeding, moulting, staging, or wintering areas of water birds. They support large populations of water birds, up to an estimated total of 10 million birds, representing over 12% of the Russian water bird population.
For the most part, Russian Ramsar sites are quite large areas divided into zones where different regimes of nature protection and limited land use have been applied. The forms of protective and sustainable use management regimes have been defined in individual regulations prepared for each site. These regulations were developed for the majority of sites in the late 1990s, approved by Federal Conservation Authorities, and adopted by Administrations of relevant administrative regions of the Russian Federation.
The majority of Ramsar sites have protected natural areas of different status within their borders. The 35 Ramsar sites include, in whole or in part, 12 strict nature reserves (zapovedniki, IUCN Category I) and their buffer zones, 1 national park (IUCN Category II), 10 sanctuaries (zakazniki, IUCN Categories IV to VI) managed at federal level, 18 sanctuaries/wildlife refuges (zakazniki) managed at local level, and over 30 nature monuments (IUCN Category III). Protected nature areas of various types cover approximately 60% of the total area of Ramsar sites.
Further information about the Ramsar sites in Russia:
Ramsar Sites Information Service
A network of educational wetland centres has been established through Wetland Link International as WLI-Russia. The NGO "Biologists for Nature Conservation" acting as a structural unit of the Baltic Fund for Nature (BFN, St.Petersburg), was the first Russian educational organization that joined the Wetland Link International network in 2010. The focus of BFN’s work is the conservation of biodiversity in the Russian part of the Baltic Sea basin. It includes the development and implementation of research and conservation projects and the coordination of activities of environmental NGOs working in the Baltic Sea regions of Russia, in particular at the Ramsar sites located along the Baltic coast.
The wetland visitor and educational centre was established in the Sebezhsky National Park, the Pskov Oblast, in May 2010. This is a two-story wooden house that hosts a child-friendly exhibition on wetlands and wetland species protected in the National Park. Here live and recorded CCTV footage can be seen of nesting grebes and other wildlife. The Centre is also the ideal base from which to watch the water birds nesting at Ozeryavki Lake and to explore the surrounding forest. A nature trail starting from here goes up to the Bolshoi Grebel moraine ridge, with spectacular views. The Wetland Centre is also the starting point of 45 km long transboundary water route along a chain of lakes, small rivers and channels connecting the Sebezhsky National Park and the neighboring Belarusian Nature Reserve and Ramsar Site of Osveysky.
The Ramsar CEPA work in Russia is coordinated by the Wetlands International Russia Programme.
Ramsar organization in Russia
AA: Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation
NFP: Leonid Belov, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, belov (at) mnr.gov.ru
CEPA GOV: None
CEPA NGO: Irina Kamennova, Wetlands International Russia Programme, ikamennova (at) wwf.ru
SRTP NFP: Andrei Sirin, Research Institute on Forest Science, Russian Academy of Sciencies, sirin (at) proc.ru
Wetlands committee: Has not been nominated yet