IAB9: Arctic biodiversity goals in the transboundary and cross-cultural Beringian region: positive lessons for success

Date: Friday October 12, 2018

Location: Erottaja, ELY

Time: 8:30-10:00

The conservation and sustainable use of Arctic Biodiversity frequently requires coordination of activities across political and cultural boundaries. The current demarcation of political borders in the Arctic rarely reflects ecological or cultural borders. Thus, groups that rely on specific wildlife species across their ranges, and those who seek to ensure conservation of species through effective rangewide initiatives, are separated. While efforts at the international level, such as the Arctic Council, can establish broad goals for effective collaboration, the specific processes that result in effective implementation of these broad scale plans are less articulated. In this session, we focus on the unique situation of the rapidly changing, bio-diverse, multi-lateral, and multi-cultural Beringia region as a case study to explore specific efforts that are helping ensure the vibrancy of Arctic Bio-cultural diversity. We focus specifically on actions that have promoted sharing of information, development of shared protocols, and implementation of trans-boundary and cross-cultural solutions. We highlight the specific implementation of at least three core Arctic Council initiatives in relation to coastal biodiversity – Arctic Migratory Bird Initiative (AMBI), Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program (CBMP), and the Emergency Prevention, Preparedness, and Response (EPPR) and Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) working groups.

Chairs: Martin Robards, Wildlife Conservation Society; Evgeny Syroechkovskiy, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Russian Federation

Format: Series of presentations followed by discussion


  • The biocultural landscape of Beringia - An Alaskan perspective: Leigh Welling, US National Park Service pdf
  • The biocultural andscape of Beringia - A Chukotkan perspective: Evgeny Syroechkovskiy, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 
  • The changing biocultural landscapes of Beringia - Climate Change, Ecosystem Change, Social Change, New Industries: Jim Lawler, US National Park Service pdf
  • Protected areas and Indigenous communities in Chukotka: Konstantin Klokov, Saint-Petersburg State University pdf
  • Migratory birds: Evgeny Syroechkovskiy, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment 
  • Marine mammals: Peter Boveng,  NOAA Marine Mammal Lab pdf
  • Coastal subsistence fisheries: Martin Robards, Wildlife Conservation Society pdf



Protected areas and Indigenous communities in Chukotka

Konstantin Klokov, Saint-Petersburg State University

Several controversies with the Indigenous population in connection with national parks arose in recent years in the Russian Arctic. Indicative is the case of the Vaigach island where local indigenous community protested against the creation of a new national park on the island. Because of the protest, the decision to establish a national park had to be postponed indefinitely. Another indicative case is the contradictions that arose in the national park "Beringia" in Chukotka, where local residents opposed the restrictions of traditional hunting and fishing. The analysis of conflict situations shows that they arise primarily due to lack of sustainable cooperation between environmentalists and indigenous communities, as well as between environmentalists and formal and informal local leaders. Local leaders often do not support state reserves and national parks, they believe that protected areas do not fulfill their environmental protection tasks, instead, they infringe on the interests of indigenous people in vain. Another reason is that national parks are federal organizations which are managed from Moscow. This makes their policy towards the local population not flexible enough and complicates their collaboration with regional and municipal state agencies as well as with local NGOs. The Vaigach conflict has been mitigated after the WWF experts had began to act in accordance with the principles of co-management. They establish contacts and started an amicable discussion with local community, representatives of regional indigenous organizations and with a wide range of stakeholders. Nevertheless, to radically change the negative attitude of local residents in relation to the creation of the national park will take several years. Contradictions with the local population in the national park "Beringia" weakened, after the emerging problems were discussed at the Advisory Council, which included representatives of the indigenous population. The main obstacle to a constructive dialogue between environmentalists and advocates of the interests of the indigenous population is mutual distrust, which can be overcome through an open and equitable exchange of views and discussion. Analyses shown, that indigenous claims were primarily caused by three reasons: a) restrictive and prohibitive measures prevail in environmental strategies; b) promises that the indigenous population will benefit from the creation of a protected area, in fact are not met; c) decisions are made without prior approval of the local population. These examples show that the world experience of co-management practices and cooperation between protected areas and Indigenous communities should to be developed in the Russian Arctic.


Migratory birds

Evgeny Syroechkovskiy, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment

The assessment of the hunt impact on migratory bird populations is necessary for the development of effective conservation strategy and sustainable use of resources. The results of the survey conducted in northern Yakutia and Chukotka (Syroechkovski and Klokov, 2010) showed a very high importance of the traditional hunting for the indigenous population in Russian Arctic. Birds, especially, geese, ducks and eiders still remain an important source of food for indigenous families in hundreds of villages on the North and East of Russia. Birds are perceived by indigenous families first of all as foodstuff. Waterfowl is harvested mainly in the spring time. The amount of harvested birds depends mainly on the geographical location of villages with regard to migratory ways of geese, ducks and eiders. In several indigenous villages situated on the migratory ways average hunting bag is about 100 birds for year. Eggs gathering is important only for a few indigenous communities. Compared with hunting in the countries of South-East Asia hunting on migratory birds in the North and East of Russia has only a small negative impact on the populations of threatened species. However, due to the absence of the monitoring and the lack of accurate information this influence cannot be completely excluded. Thus, significant number of Emperor geese are harvested in some areas in Chukotka as well as Whimbrel and other big waders including Godwith and Far Eastern Curlew are harvested in Kamchatka region. The hunting management in the Russian Arctic North is inefficient. The control is weak. The local population often do not respect to the hunting rules. The official Hunting Regulations do not correspond to local conditions. Virtually, all hunting in the North is made in violation of the existing rules. The government hunting regulation has been actually replaced by traditional approach. Results of the study of hunting management experience in Russia show that the motivation of the local population to hunt depend mainly on the economic conditions. Enforcement methods of management are not enough effective in Arctic area with sparse population. A dialogue with hunters on the base of "co-management" approach is difficult for two main reasons: the lack of trust of the majority of hunters to the governing bodies and the absence of local organization of hunters. To implement the recommendations for migratory bird conservation there is a need for economic survey and social diagnostics to determine different resource user groups interests and motivation.

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel
Join our LinkedIn Group
Check us out on Google+
Follow Us on Instagam
Follow Us on Flickr