Arctic peninsulas become nature park

A new nature park has been established on the Rybachy and Sredny peninsulas in Murmansk Region. The peninsulas are located on the Barents Sea coast near the Russian-Norwegian border. The protection decision was made by the Murmansk Regional Government on November 14th, 2014.

Вид на полуостров Средний. Фото: Ольга Петрова.

The Rybachy and Sredny Peninsulas were a closed militarized area until 2010, when they were opened up to the public. The territory has since attracted a lot of tourists and tourism companies. The use of motorized off-road vechicles by tourists has caused problems for the nature on the peninsulas.

The new protected area will enable measures to control tourism and poaching on the territory. It will also support the development of new, more sustainable economical activities. Reindeer herding will be allowed in the nature park.

There are currently about 500 domestic reindeers on the Rybachy Peninsula.
Photo: V. Lupachika

The park will be open to tourists in organised groups, to scientists and to inhabitants of the Pechenga municipal district, who can collect berries and mushrooms and fish salmon on the territory of the park.

The Rybachy and Sredny Peninsulas hold the biggest seabird colonies in the North of European Russia and tundra meadows with a high concentration of rare and red-listed species. The territory is famous for its ancient rock paintings and monuments of the Second World War.

Lomatogonium rotatum (L.) Fries is a rare, red-listed species growing on the peninsulas. Photo: Anna Razymovskaya

Borders of the nature park cause dispute

Nature protection NGOs in Murmansk Region have expressed concern with the borders and protection regime of the nature park. Olga Petrova from Kola Biodiversity Conservation Center says that important areas for nature protection and tourism have been left outside the borders of the protected area. Inside the park, there are no limitations on reindeer herding or noise even in the nature protected zones.

According to the Murmansk regional government, the reason why some important areas fall outside the borders of the park is that they are still used by the military, which has been unwilling to give up these areas. But according to Olga Petrova, not all these objects are located on military lands.

When the nature park project was being prepared, the experts of Kola Biodiversity Conservation Center proposed a different delineation of the park, which included the most important nature and tourism objects. However, this proposal was not considered by the authorities, says Olga Petrova.

Skorbeevka river is one of the important areas for nature conservation left outside the borders of the nature park. Photo: Luba Trofimova

The regional government has promised that the distribution of red-listed species of the peninsulas will be studied and that any sites of red-listed species will either be included in the buffer zone of the park or protected by special regulations.

Kola Biodiversity Conservation Center has demanded that the park will be immediately re-organized with new borders and a more appropriate protection regime.

Journalists visiting the peninsulas in September 2014. Photo: Olga Petrova

In September 2014, Kola Biodiversity Conservation Center and the Barents office of WWF-Russia organized a press tour to peninsulas Sredny and Rybachy in the framework of the BPAN project. The participants were informed about the nature and nature protection plans on the peninsulas.

Read more:

Press release of the Murmansk regional government (in Russian)

Press release of Kola Biodiversity Conservation Center (in Russian)

Article in (in Russian):

Article in Komsomolskaya Pravda (in Russian)