Natural recreational resources represent a complex of physical, biological and informational elements and physical agents which are used for recovery and development of physical and spiritual powers of a person, his working abilities and health. Practically all natural resources possess a recreational and tourist potential, but the degree of its usage varies and depends on recreational demands and specialization of the region.
According to the classifications accepted in nature management economy based on the dual character of "natural resources" concept, (natural origin plus economic value), all natural recreational resources may be grouped according to:
Ways of recreational use;
Speed of exhaustion (fast-exhaustible, slow-exhaustible, inexhaustible);
Self-restoration and cultivation abilities (renewable, relatively renewable and unrenewable);
Abilities to economic compensation, (compensable, uncompensable);
Possibility of substitution by other resources.
Recently natural resources have been reconsidered in the view of their possible use for productive leisure, sanitary and medical preventive purposes. Transition of the national economy to the global market conditions reset in a new fashion the tasks of resort zones operation and development of abilities of natural environment components directly for medical purposes.
There are regions in Russia where recreational activity represents a key industry among all other branches. Networks of recreational enterprises and organizations serve here as its essential part.
Characterization of recreational resources of the basic landscape-and-climatic zones allows to evaluate these zones in comparison to each other (riches of these resources), that promotes revealing of the most effective directions of development of the resort network of our country.
About one third of the territory of Russia is occupied by taiga. All this zone is potentially favorable for active climatotherapy. At the same time negative influence is caused by presence of blood-sucking insects that represent a big problem in creation of comfortable conditions for treatment and rest in the open air. Epidemiological conditions in certain years may make a serious problem as well. The zones of mixed forests and forest-steppes represent the greatest potential in the view of recreational resources.
The most favourable conditions for vital activity of population have been developing for a long time here; they may represent an ecological optimum for development of civilization in Eastern Europe and in Siberian territories. This is the very region where unique Russian culture was formed. In this connection recreational conditions of this special zone are optimum in comparison with exotic but rather annoying and short-term stay at health resorts.
As to recreational resources of semideserts and deserts, the landscape conditions there are scarcely favourable for development of resort construction, except for several oases. The Mediterranean zone including damp and dry subtropics is rather favorable for accommodation of health resorts. However dissolution of the USSR considerably reduced recreational opportunities of Russia in this respect. The Caucasus represents the greatest interest among all mountain regions. Altai and a number of eastern mountain areas are also promising.
Landscape architecture is one of important elements of recreational potential of settlements (i.e. places of constant dwelling of population), first of all large cities. Landscape architecture means harmonious combination of natural and anthropogenic landscapes and their separate components (vegetation, relief, natural reservoirs) with settlements, architectural complexes and constructions. Traditional objects of landscape architecture are parks, gardens, parkways, public gardens, green plantations of city micro-districts, and also territories of water basins, forest parks, etc., used basically for recreation. A perfect example of landscape architecture is represented in palace ensembles of Moscow suburbs (Arkhangelskoye, Kuskovo), suburbs of Saint Petersburg (Petrodvorets, Pavlovsk, Pushkin); several new microdistricts.
Tourism is one of the most effective ways of satisfaction of recreational needs. It includes not only rest and improvement, but also cultural and cognitive activity and communication (the latter often appears in the forms of scientific conferences, special cultural programs, business contacts). Excursion tourism with prearranged cultural program is also widely spread. Depending on travel purposes, tourism may be subdivided into: sports tourism, amateur, tourism with social purposes, business tourism (fairs, congresses), religious tourism, etc. And depending on means of travel - into: water tourism, foot tourism, railway, horse, ski, bicycle, motor cycle and automobile tourism.
Specially protected natural territories have important value in natural recreational potential of Russia.
The Russian Federation possesses a big tourist potential of recreational resources: unique natural landscapes in all their originality, historical and cultural monuments, various cities and other settlements. The most popular tourist objects of Russia are the ancient Russian cities, such as: Vladimir, Suzdal, Sergiev Posad, Pereslavl-Zaleski, Rostov, Uglich, Yaroslavl, Kostroma and other cities of "the Golden Ring of Russia". Such tourists routes, as: "Moscow-Valaam- Saint-Petersburg" and "Saint-Petersburg-Kizhi" (on motor ships), "Over the Territory of White Nights" (including visiting of Vologda and Petrozavodsk), over the Northern Caucasus and the Black Sea coast, over Pre-Elbrus region, over the Ural, Altai and Khibins, are the most famous. Baikal Lake is also a unique complex of recreational resources of the international importance.