The Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia annulled the decision to transform the Caucasus Biosphere Reserve with the addition of the Sochi National Park to it. In March, the head of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Sergey Donskoy, signed an order to create the Directorate of the “Protected Caucasus”, where both specially protected natural areas (PAs) were to enter. However, in June, his successor, Dmitry Kobylkin, suspended reorganization, and then abandoned the idea of a merger altogether.
Denis Khramov, First Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian Federation, canceled the order “On the reorganization of subordinate institutions”, providing for the joining of the Sochi National Park to the FSCU “Biosphere Biosphere Reserve”. Information about this “Kommersant” confirmed in the press service of the Ministry. "The new leadership of the Ministry of Environment intends to investigate the situation and re-evaluate the expediency of the merger," the ministry explained to Kommersant.
Recall, the order for reorganization was signed on March 19 by the head of the Ministry of Environment Sergei Donskoy. The newly formed structure was to be called the “Preserved Caucasus” (the “United Directorate of the Caucasian Biosphere Reserve and the Sochi National Park”). The goal of the reform was to optimize management processes, which, according to the initiators' plan, would allow “to implement a common policy on two adjacent protected areas when conducting research and environmental monitoring, protecting unique objects of nature, organizing environmental education,” the Ministry of Natural Resources explained at that time stressing that the protection status of none of the protected areas should not be reduced. However, representatives of public environmental organizations expressed doubts about whether it is possible within the framework of one structure to effectively combine the goals of nature conservation and the economic use of the territory.
In May, the Minister of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation, Sergei Donskoy, resigned, and his successor, Dmitry Kobylkin, shortly after his appointment, suspended the reorganization of the FSBI Caucasian Biosphere Reserve and Sochi National Park. According to the original plan, the reorganization was supposed to be completed by August 1, however, Mr. Kobylkin first extended the transitional period until September, and then the decision on the accession of Sochi National Park to the Caucasian Reserve was canceled. In Sochi National Park and the Caucasian Reserve, the situation is not commented.
Valery Brinikh, director of the Institute of Regional Biological Research (previously he was the director of the Caucasus Nature Reserve), positively assessed the preservation of the Caucasus Biosphere Reserve and Sochi National Park as independent institutions. “Russia has the experience of merging the Baikal-Lensky Reserve and the Pribaikalsky National Park, which in 2014 formed the combined Directorate of the Pribaikalye Reserve, but the use of this experience in Sochi is doubtful,” the ecologist said. “In the case of the lake Baikal is a single object of protection, and in Sochi, a huge territory in the recreation zone has protection status, in respect of which business has a very specific interest not related to ecology. ”
According to the Kommersant interlocutor, the new head of the Ministry of Natural Resources adequately assessed possible negative consequences associated with reforming the institutions: “In the amorphous structure called the management, there could be significant risks of abuse, for example, when adjusting the borders within protected areas. At the same time, the economic effect of reorganization is not obvious, ”he noted.”