Protection of cultural and natural heritage* is a complex problem which is interesting for scientists working in different fields of knowledge. This idea has been in detail proved in the report of Alexander Chibilev, RAS corresponding member, Director of the Steppe Institute of the RAS Ural Branch, published in the Nauka Urala (Science of Ural) newspaper.
First of all, the author paid attention to terminological difference of terms "protection of nature" and "protection of natural heritage". The first one, which is more conventional, means inviolability, non-use of territory of scientific value. Preserve is the ideal variant: its territory is protected as a golden reserve where any economic activity is prohibited; these are standard unchanged natural zones where only scientific and research works are allowed.
On the contrary, natural heritage is a concept which appeared not so long ago; it is a source of information on the environment and intellectual development of people which plays a significant ethic and aesthetic role in their upbringing. Consequently, this notion has a meaning of a recreational object. So, such objects belong to everybody, and all people living on this planet should try to preserve it. These principles are realized in national parks in the USA and some other countries, and for this idea was used as a basis to develop the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage adopted in 1972.
In our country the problem of protection of nature, i.e. necessity to establish a network of preserves, first appeared in 1912 when the Council of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society established a Standing Environmental Committee. Its activity was very effective which is proved by the fact that it organized dozens of expeditions to the estuary of the Volga, Northern Urals, Pechora taiga, Kamchatka, Pribaikalye and Sa-yany. These works resulted in a report delivered in summer 1917 called "On typical territories where reserves similar to American national parks should be organized".
In the Soviet times preserve management and studies had their ups and downs, and the basic principal was banning of economic activity on this or that territory. Establishment or disintegration of preserves depended on a scientific and economic value of objects. Aesthetic and, what is more, ethic values of preserves and special nature sanctuaries were of secondary importance.
That is why we can only agree with Chibilev who believes that governmental authorities of Russia should grant a status of national heritage not only to already
* See: N. Maxakovsky, "Russia in UNESCO World Heritage", in this issue. - Ed.
protected territories (in 1988 we ratified the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, and the UNESCO has already included the biosphere preserve Virgin Komi Forests, Lake Baikal, volcanoes of Kamchatka, complex Golden Mountains of Altai, Western Caucasus, Central Sikhote Alin in the list of protected objects), but also create a multilevel network of similar objects: national (federal), interregional and local. The author reminds: in 2004 at the 1st International Conference on Natural Heritage of Russia: Study, Monitoring, Protection held in Togliatti it was acknowledged that many national natural objects of world and national value are coming down or even disappearing. This is caused by several factors: first, there are no national nominations of national heritage objects in Russia, as there is no such status-national natural heritage; second, there is no any legal framework which would determine the concept of "natural heritage", establish strict legal norms, and divide economic and aesthetic issues; third, there is no specialized state-legal, scientific, public organization which would be responsible for the development of the network of national and world natural heritage objects.
In conclusion the author proposes to stimulate activities of the RAS and its Ural branch targeted to solve problems related to the preservation of the natural heritage of the country. In particular, he believes that it is necessary to initiate development and approval of the RF law "On the National Landscape of Russia".
Having cited Socrates and his famous aphorism "Beautiful means useful", Chibilev pointed out: the aesthetic value of natural heritage is a socio-economic category, as services to guests visiting unique and beautiful landscapes offered by tourist companies make up a significant part of their income. Development of tourism revitalizes regional economy where natural objects have already been granted the status of world heritage. However, the UNESCO List of the World Heritage should remind us that there are values more significant than mercantile ones.
Alexander Chibilev, "Beautiful Means Useful", Nauka Unila (Science of Ural), No. 26/27, 2005
Prepared by Andrei BIRYUKOV
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