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Russian Federation - Country Profile

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Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The Russian Federation occupies a vast territory (17 million km2), making it the world’s largest country in terms of area. The ecosystems of Russia are very diverse, including polar deserts, tundra, forest tundra, taiga, mixed and broad-leaved forests, forest steppe, steppe, semi-desert and subtropics. The northern ecosystems of tundra and taiga dominate the country’s territory. Russian soils are equally diverse, ranging from arctic soils in the north to brown semi-desert soils and yellow subtropical soils in the south. Russian forests cover 776.2 million ha, accounting for about 22% of the world’s forest resources and 40% of the most valuable coniferous stands. Russian forests and peatlands are the main terrestrial regenerators of oxygen. Russia also possesses the largest wetland systems in the world. Peatlands and marshes occupy 1.8 million km2 and perform a key role in carbon sequestration. Combined with lakes, wetlands cover 15% of the territory and are connected by 120,000 rivers. About 80% of Arctic species are represented in Russia. The country is bordered by 13 marginal seas of three oceans (Atlantic, Arctic, Pacific), with a coastline stretching some 60,000 km, making it the longest of any country in the world. Sixty-five percent of the territory is considered virtually untouched by economic and other human activities, whereas 20% of the territory has suffered considerably due to human impact.

Russian biodiversity includes 12,500 species of vascular plants (representing 5% of the world’s vascular flora), 2,200 species of bryophytes, about 3,000 species of lichens, 7,000-9,000 species of algae, and 20,000-25,000 species of fungi. Russian fauna is composed of 320 species of mammals (representing 18% of the world’s mammal fauna), over 732 species of birds (representing 8% of the world’s bird fauna), 75 species of reptiles, about 30 species of amphibians, 343 species of freshwater fish (high endemism), approximately 1,500 species of marine fishes (representing only around 3% of the world’s fish fauna), 9 species of cyclostomates and approximately 100,000 invertebrates (high endemism). The fish fauna is poorly studied, whereas mammals and birds are well studied. Approximately 1,100 of rare and endangered plant and animal species are included in the Red Book of the Russian Federation.

The ecosystems of tundra, taiga, steppe and old-growth forests are deteriorating due to various threats. Steppe ecosystems are rich in plant diversity (900-1,000 vascular species/km2), while the arid steppe is richer in animal diversity. However, steppe and broad-leaved forests are the most threatened biomes and have almost disappeared. About a quarter of Russian territory is occupied by mountains that feature a great variety of natural conditions. In terms of economic benefits, biodiversity and ecosystem services have an estimated average value of $US 5-6 trillion. Pressures on ecosystems continue to reduce the real benefits derived from biodiversity at a rate of 2-5% annually.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The main threats in the Arctic zone are (in order of priority): pollution (industrial waste, air pollutant, oil, heavy metals, chemical and radioactive pollutant), anthropogenic activities (oil extraction, gas production, poaching, deterioration of the environment and of traditional nature management conditions), climate change, land degradation, deteriorated land use conditions. Most of the pollution found in the Arctic is presented in the form of precipitation from tropospheric transport, originating from atmospheric emissions of Western Europe, North America and Asia. In addition, there are important pollutants produced in Russia (e.g. 2.5 million tons of sulfur dioxide are produced annually in addition to sulfates, sulfides, chlorides, phosphates and oil products, all of which contribute to habitat degradation and bioaccumulation in marketable animals and deer, which constitute the diet of indigenous populations).

Land degradation (due to oil and gas exploration) and fires (destroying 1-2.1 million ha of forests annually) especially disturb the taiga ecosystem. Wind erosion and the tendency towards desertification are reducing the soil fertility of the arable land of the steppe ecosystem. The high frequency of forest fires, illegal logging and forest replacement to secondary small-leaved species, all contribute to forest habitat deterioration. Research spanning 50 years on the natural and anthropogenic variability of biodiversity, space distribution and seabird abundance of the White Sea, highlights the negative effects of natural (e.g. climate change) and anthropogenic stresses on biodiversity.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The priorities of the National Strategy of Biodiversity Conservation in Russia were defined as: species and ecosystems conservation while focusing on priorities, challenging economics and other activities, and developing the Network of Specially Protected Natural, Historical and Cultural Territories. The establishment of a network of research centers for the conservation of rare species of animals was among the achievements of implementing the National Strategy, as was an increase in the area of Specially Protected Areas which rose from 2% to 2.8% of the total area of the country. Also, the regulations of a new version of the Red Book of the Russian Federation were enforced and regional Red Books established.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The entirely natural ecosystems of Russia and their biological diversity are conserved in nearly 15,000 specially protected natural territories of various statuses, occupying more than 10% of the country’s area. They include 101 federal reserves and 40 national parks however are distributed unevenly and do not comprehensively reflect the natural diversity of regions. Currently, there are more than 100 identified “hot spots” in the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation, 30 of which have urgent environment issues.

Additionally, 6,900 thousand ha have been reforested, forest fires reduced and territories expanded (all of these projects were carried out in the light of conserving biodiversity and improving resource management). The conservation of forest potential and biodiversity is one of the targets of the “Concept of National Forestry Development for 2003-2010”, while the “Strategy for the development of the forest sector of the Russian Federation until 2020” was established in October 2008. The Association of the Ecologically Responsible Timber Producers of Russia was founded in 1999 under the aegis of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and is part of the Global Forest and Trade Network (GFTN). Also, 6 projects of model forests have been implemented in Russia with the active participation of the WWF and were consolidated into the “Initiative Network of Russian Model Forests” in 2007. Collaborative efforts and local involvement, among other factors, have contributed to the successful operations of the Russian model forests.

New methods of ex situ conservation have been developed and laboratory gene banks (cells, tissues) and natural gene banks (collections) for conserving rare endangered species have been established. Success stories include ex situ conservation of some mammal species (Prejevalsky horse, aurochs), birds, rare fish species (particularly in the family of Acipenseridae). A study of the unique nesting territory of Anseriformes species was conducted on Kolguyev Island, where 123 goose and 14 birds were marked in 2007 for satellite monitoring of their migrations. Collaborative studies were conducted on the dynamics and diversity of seabirds of the White Sea and in the Solovesky archipelago. Programs such as the conservation of productive breeds of domestic reindeer in Nenets and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, of local horse breeds in the Republics of Bashkiria and Sakha (Yakutia), and of traditional breeds of sheep in various arid lands have been developed.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Russia possesses a high level of capacity in terms of elite specialists in the fields of biology, taxonomy, ecology, forestry and geography (knowledge fields necessary for implementing the National Strategy of Biodiversity Conservation). However, since 2001, a trend in funding decreases for national programmes and projects related to biodiversity conservation has been observed, with funding having decreased from 0.4% of the annual budget in 2001 to 0.14% in 2007. There has also been a decrease in the level of input from enterprises and local budgets in regard to funding environmental activities in a number of regions. However, at the same time, state financing for and self-funding by reserves and national parks have been increasing as a result of mobilization of resources from various sources. Also, Russia benefits from international financial support from the GEF, WWF, IUCN, among other organizations.

Botanical gardens, zoos, and selection stations are implementing conservation ex situ, as well as exchanging information and experimenting with the reintroduction of species into the wild. However, there is a slow introduction of new economic mechanisms for regulating nature use and environmental protection. Improvements in the tax system regarding biological resource utilization have increased the number of ecological crimes as much as fivefold. Interaction between state environmental authorities and non-governmental organizations requires strengthening.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Russian fundamental (Russian Academy of Sciences) and sectoral (forest, environment, agriculture, game, fishery) sciences established the terms for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, as well as for its identification, state assessment and monitoring. However, the economic crisis, unemployment growth and the poverty of the local populations have contributed to reducing the level of enforcement of regulations for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, which has in turn led to an increase in environmental violations. Also, the amount of scientific and monitoring research at the federal level, especially in regard to protected areas, has decreased. An annual review of the Forest Fund has been performed since 1999.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme