A great Siberian air-hole will be taken under protection

In Yakutia, the natural reserve «Novosibirskiye Islands» will be created to protect the Great Siberian air-hole - a unique place where the water doesn’t freeze, providing vital winter habitat for Arctic wildlife.

Thousands of arctic inhabitants, like the Laptev walrus,and one of the least-known polar bear populations, gather here for the winter.

Designed by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Federal Nature Reserve«Siberian Islands» has received positive conclusion of the state ecological examination and approval of the government of Yakutia. The project is a specially protected natural territory transferred to the Government of the Russian Federation to sign.This means that in the Year of protected areas and Ecology in Russia may take custody of more than 8 million hectares of fragile Arctic ecosystems: the island of Anjou and De Long with a large water area. This will be Russia's first Marine Protected area of ​​this size.

The purpose of the Federal Reserve - the protection and study of the unique island ecosystems of the Russian Arctic. On the «Novosibirskie (or »New Siberian') islands, home to one of the least-studied polar bear populations - Laptev Sea, as well as those included in the Red Book of Russia, animal Laptev as a subspecies of the walrus, spectacled eider, klokotun pink seagull, Bewick's swan. Every winter, the Great Siberian polynya is becoming a haven for these and many other animals.

Creation of the reserve will help minimize the risks and impacts on the unique biological diversity of open water and islands, among them - the prospects for the development of hydrocarbon fields (waters around the Islands is a licensed site of «Rosneft») and the development of the Northern Sea Route.

Another pressing issue in the region is poaching: The island is the world's largest deposits of mammoth bone, actively extracted in violation of environmental regulations. Mammoth bone under Russian law is not minerals, and specific requirements for its digging does not exist. It is only necessary to obtain a license for the collection «Geological materials» and violators get minimum punishment. Although they are only allowed to collect the tusks from the surface, the fossil finders often use water pumps to dissolve the ice. A result of that is landscape degradation and worsening coastal erosion, due to which the rate of shores retreat can be up to 20 meters per year.

«While looking for those bones, poachers are destroying the soil cover, vegetation and the whole terrestrial ecosystems, which may never recover. Nature in the Arctic is extremely fragile: because of the low temperatures, all processes are slowed down, and the recovery takes very long. Furthermore, the provision for miners is being brought by helicopters rarely, so when they run out of food, miners go to hunt, and certainly do not know the difference between endangered and non-endangered animals», - says Mikhail Stishov, WWF Russia's project coordinator for the conservation of biodiversity of the Arctic .

Эксперты указывают на то, что прежде высокая численность северного оленя серьезно снизилась, а на некоторых островах архипелага олень и вовсе исчез по вине добывателей мамонтовой кости. На самих Новосибирских островах постоянных поселений никогда не было и в настоящее время не существует. Но, люди часто привозят с собой кошек и собак, которые также влияют на животный мир островов.

По мнению экспертов, создание федерального заказника также позволит развить экологический туризм в регионе. На Новосибирских островах можно наблюдать за птичьими базарами, а с борта круизного лайнера можно будет увидеть белых медведей, моржей и других животных. Кроме того, на одном из островов архипелага обнаружена самая северная из известных стоянок древнего человека – стоянка людей каменного века (7-8 тыс. лет назад). 

Experts point out that before the high number of reindeer seriously declined, and on some islands of the archipelago and the deer disappeared completely due to the fault dobyvateley ivory. On the New Siberian Islands themselves permanent settlements has never been and is not currently exist. However, people often bring with them dogs and cats, which also affect the animal world of islands.

According to experts, the creation of the Federal Reserve will also allow to develop eco-tourism in the region. On the New Siberian Islands, you can watch the bird colonies, and on board the cruise liner you will see the polar bears, walruses and other animals. In addition, on one of the islands discovered the most northern of the famous sites of ancient man - Parking Stone Age (7-8 thousand years ago.).

For additional information please contact

Ludmila Lyagushkina, Press Officer of WWF-Russia,
tel: +7 (495) 727-09-39, tel/fax: +7 (495) 727-09-38, e-mail
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tel: +7 (495) 727-09-39, tel/fax: +7 (495) 727-09-38, e-mail
 

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