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Russian Federation founds large national park in Onega Peninsula

Press release 2013-02-28 at 10:00

The Onezhskoye Pomorye National Park, located on the coastal area of Onega Peninsula, encompasses Europe's largest coastal northern boreal area, with rich wooded forests and plenty of mires. This new national park was established to conserve pristine forest, mires, coastal and marine environments, rare habitats and species, as well as the traditional culture and lifestyle of the local coastal community, the Pomors. The park is also a highly attractive destination for nature and cultural tourism.

On 26 February, the Russian Federation founded an extensive national park on the Onega Peninsula, on the coast of the White Sea in northwestern Arkhangelsk Region. The decision to establish a national park represents a significant consolidation of the network of protected areas in Northwest Russia and the Barents Region.

The Onezhkoye Pomorye National Park comprises 201,668 hectares, of which 180,668 hectares consist of coastal areas and 21,000 hectares lie in the White Sea.

Finnish participation from the beginning

Preparations for the establishment of the national park took an important step on the basis of recommendations put forward by an international expedition to the area in 1997. This expedition was implemented in cooperation between the states of Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway. One of the Finnish participants in the expedition was eminent conservation expert and Emeritus Professor Rauno Ruuhijärvi, former chairman of the Finnish-Russian working group for the protection of the environment. Also well-known scientist, Emeritus Professor Michael Succow was in the expedition group.

”As a result of the expedition, the Onega Peninsula Natural Values Inventory Project was launched in the form of bilateral cooperation between Finland and Arkhangelsk Region. The national park's charter was prepared and the original conservation proposal, encompassing more than 300,000 hectares, was drawn up on the basis of the joint project”, explains Leading Researcher Tapio Lindholm of the Finnish Environment Institute.

Several Russian research institutes and conservation NGOs, as well as the Russian environmental administration, have participated in the founding of the national park since the original conservation proposal was drawn up. Alongside other parties, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council’s Working Group on Environment and other actors have also facilitated the progress of the conservation proposal.

Logging and other human activities have reduced the protected area

The protected area has shrunk since the proposal was drawn up, mainly as a result of logging in the area's central forests. Some clear-cutting areas have been left outside the national park, but so too have some valuable forests and, most importantly, marshes in their natural state. In 2011, the area was threatened by a plan to construct a new road through the planned national park.

The coastal area of Onega Peninsula ranks among the most important conservation targets identified by the Gap Analysis in Northwest Russia project, implemented by the Russian and Finnish authorities, scienctific institutions and NGOs, and coordinated by the Finnish Environment Institute and funded by the Ministry of the Environment of Finland.

The GAP analysis project also supported the youth nature travel camp, organised in 2010 by the NGOs Finnish Nature League (Luonto-Liitto) and Aetas from Arkhangelsk to promote the establishment of the national park.

The Onezhskoye Pomorye National Park was included on the conservation programme of national parks and strict nature reserves, drawn up by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation. Also the planned Ladoga Skerries and Khibiny National Parks, and extension of the Paanajärvi National Park to cover Kutsa area, and Ingermanlandsky Strict Nature Reserve, are included in this programme.

”In the years 2012–2013, Finland chairs the Barents Euro-Arctic Council’s Working Group on Environment, where Barents Protected Area Network (BPAN) is one of the priority projects. The establishment of the new national park is a significant event with regard to the development of the entire protected area network,” comments Senior Coordinator Anna Kuhmonen of the Finnish Environment Institute.

Map of the National Park Area

Further information

Tapio Lindholm, Leading Researcher, Co-Chair of the Finnish-Russian Nature Conservation Working Group, Finnish Environment Institute,
tel. +358 40 740 1598, firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi

Senior Coordinator Anna Kuhmonen, Barents Protected Area Network –project, Finnish Environment Institute, tel. +358 400 473 470,

Emeritus Professor Rauno Ruuhijärvi, tel. +358 40 764 2377,

Photos for media

Pine trees on dunes in the Onezhskoye Pomorye National Park.
Photos: Alexey Ovchinnikov.

Open view of the beach in the Onezhskoye Pomorye National Park. Photo: Alexey Ovchinnikov.

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