Polar bears, walruses, sea otters, and other endangered species are all set to benefit from a Russian decision to boost its national protected areas to nearly 3 percent of its territory by 2020, an addition of land nearly equal to the size of Switzerland.
The Russian government’s decision establishes 9 new nature reserves and 13 national parks covering a total area of nearly 15,000 square miles (3.8 million hectare) by 2020. Russia is also introducing marine buffer zones over an area of nearly 4,000 square miles (1 million ha).
Conservationists from WWF, The Nature Coservancy and MAVA Foundation, have worked for years analyzing data to help Russia fulfill its international commitment under the Convention on Biodiversity to establish effective protected systems that safeguard biodiversity. The groups will also help raise funds to pay for their protection.
The UN has declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity.