Land of the Leopard National Park is established

Creation of the new protected area, which covers 60% of all remaining habitats of the world’s rarest wild cat, was announced today at the meeting of the Russian Geographical Society in Saint Petersburg.

By resolution of the government of the Russian Federation, the Land of the Leopard National Park was established on 262 thousand hectares in the southwest of Primorsky Province.

This single protected territory has the capacity to ensure the survival of at least 50 Far Eastern leopards and covers 60% of its remaining habitats. And most importantly, the park includes all breeding grounds, which leopards use from generation to generation. The national park will also become home to 10 Amur tigers that are key for Changbaishan population in China and a valuable Korean pine forest.

In the past 20 years, Far Eastern leopard habitat has almost halved, and the population has become critically low and numbers just 30 animals”, says WWF-Russia CEO Igor Chestin. “We are happy that one of the key measures listed in the official Far Eastern Leopard Conservation Strategy – creation of a unified reserve for its conservation - is implemented”.

'Creation of the national park implied a lot of organizational problems, and only active and fruitful cooperation of Primorsky Province government, Ministry of natural resources and environment of the Russian Federation, and other state agencies helped implement Prime Minister’s order in such short time”, says Igor Chestin.

In 2001, WWF began a phased program for the establishment of a unified protected territory as the primary condition for the survival of the Far Eastern leopard”, says director of the Amur branch of WWF Yuri Darman. “Our public campaign ‘Save each of the survivors’ and documentary ‘Throwing out a challenge’ allowed to receive support of government leaders at the highest level. Vice-minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Ivanov took on personal responsibility for the conservation of the Far Eastern leopard and the establishment of the national park. Today we’d like to offer him a warm ‘thank you’ from man and beast alike!

The park will have a joint administration with the Kedrovaya Pad strict nature reserve. The government decision is accompanied by significant investments – 40 million rubles (about $1.3 million) are designated to the annual maintenance of the national park, and around half a billion rubles ($16.6 million) are designated for the development of its infrastructure.

The national park will include several zones. The strictly protected zone covers around 30 thousand ha of the most important habitat areas on the Borisovskoe Plateau. More than 120 thousand ha along the Russia-China border will have a special management regime aimed at protecting not only the leopard but also the state border. Access to this zone will only be allowed by special permits. All farmlands, lands around towns and military territories will be included in the economic development zone (38 thousand ha), and private ownership of such areas will not be altered. The remaining forest areas (72 thousand ha) are included in the recreational zone, where development of eco-tourism is planned.

The Amur branch of WWF today celebrates this unprecedented win. Twelve years of grueling work have ended with the successful establishment of the Land of the Leopard National Park!

For additional information please contact

Yuriy Darman, Director of WWF Russia Far-Eastern Branch,
tel/fax: +7 (4232) 41-48-68, e-mail
Svetlana Titova, Protected areas projects coordinator - Far-Eastern Branch,
tel/fax: +7 (4232) 41-48-68, e-mail
 

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