Russia announced this month the creation of the largest land and marine reserve and second-largest protected area in the country. The “New Siberian Islands” nature reserve was established in Sakha (Yakutia) Republic with the support of WWF-Russia.
The reserve will protect the unique island and marine ecosystems of the Russian Arctic, as well as part of the New Siberian Islands Polynya. Polynyas are areas of water that remain ice-free throughout the year. Thanks to an upwelling of nutrients, they teem with marine life. The New Siberian Islands Polynya is home to bearded seals, beluga whales and feeding and breeding areas for Laptev walrus and polar bears.
“We are very pleased at this long-awaited result, although we had hoped the area would include other highly valuable marine areas currently leased by the oil and gas company Rosneft.” says Irina Onufrenya, head of Arctic projects for WWF-Russia.
Located in the New Siberian Islands archipelago and the adjacent water areas of the Laptev and East Siberian Seas, the reserve covers over six million hectares including almost five million hectares of marine areas.
The reserve has important historical significance as well. The world’s largest mammoth graveyard and other remains of the Pleistocene era are found on the islands. Remains of human habitation from the Stone Age have been discovered on the island of Zhokhov in the New Siberian Islands archipelago, making this the northernmost known long-term encampment of ancient humans.
Toxic pollution is likely the source of a massive die-off of marine life along Russia’s Kamchatka coast
WWF experts in Kamchatka, Russia suspect a highly toxic substance has leaked into the ocean along the coastline causing an extremely high number of mussels and sea urchins to wash up on shore, along with other species of crab, clams and fish. Kamchatka lies just across the Bering Sea from Alaska’s Bristol Bay. The region is considered a globally significant marine hotspot with a rich web of life that supports both nature and people.
Madrid, Spain - The longest UNFCCC COP session ever ended Sunday morning with big emitting countries - like the United States, China, India, Japan, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and others - shirking their responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as they blocked progress in Madrid.