Specially protected natural territories (SPNT) are objects of national property and represent ground areas, water surfaces and airspace above them where there are natural complexes and objects which have special nature-conservative, scientific, cultural, aesthetic, recreational and improving value; which are withdrawn by public authorities fully or partly from economic use and for which special protective conditions are established.
The following categories of SPNT are distinguished:
State natural reserves, including biospheric reserves;
state natural game reserves;
dendrology parks and botanical gardens;
State natural reserves
State natural reserves are nature-conservative, scientific-research and ecological educational establishments founded for preservation and study of a natural course of natural processes and phenomena, genetic fund of floraflora and faunafauna, specific kinds of species and genera of plants and animals, typical and unique ecological systems. These reserves are the most traditional and rigid form of territorial wildlife protection, they have priority value for preservation of biological variety in Russia.
The total number of reserves registered in 1999 in the Russian Federation is 99. Their total area - 33 152 082 hectares (i.e. 216 208 hectares, or nearly 0,7 % more than in 1998), including 6 473 515 hectares of sea water areas (growth - 342 hectares). Land areas (together with water basins) form, correspondingly, 26 678 567 hectares, i.e. 215 866 hectares, or 0,8 % growth in comparison with the previous year level.
Natural reserves are located in territories of 18 out of 21 republics of the Russian Federation; 5 out of 6 state territories, 35 out of 49 oblasts, Jewish AO and 7 out of 10 autonomous regions have such reserves.
The system of Russian state natural reserves has wide recognition in the world: 21 Russian reserves have an international status of biospheric reserves (certified by UNESCO), 7 reserves are under jurisdiction of the Global Convention on Preservation of Cultural and Natural Heritage, 10 reserves - under the jurisdiction of Ramsara Convention (International Convention on Water and Marsh Lands), 4 reserves: Oksk, Teberdinsk, Central Chernozem and Kostomukshsk have diplomas of the Council of Europe.
National parks are nature-conservative, scientific-research and ecological educational establishments, territories (water areas) of which include natural complexes and objects with special ecological, historical and aesthetic value; which are intended for use in nature-conservative, educational, scientific and cultural purposes, as well as for controllable tourism.
The Russian Federation began to establish national parks only since 1983 (the first ones were 'Sochinsky' and 'Losiny Ostrov'). So, this is comparatively new form of territorial wildlife protection for Russia.
On the whole, there were 34 national parks in the Russian Federation in 1999, their total area equals 6784,6 thousand hectares, and by the beginning of 2000 - 35 parks with total area of 6956 thousand hectares (0,4 % of all the territory of the Russian Federation).
A modern network of national parks covers 7 physico- geographic regions, 11 oblasts and 27 provinces. The national parks, where various monuments of culture and history are protected, have special value. These are: "Russian North", where world-famous Kirill-Belozersk and Ferapont monasteries are situated; "Kenozersk", where there are many monuments of wooden Russian architecture; Pereslavl nature-historical park and others.
'Samarskaya Luka Park' contains one of the largest settlements of the Volga Bulgaria (IX-XIII centuries) - 'Muromsky Gorodok'; "Sochinsky Park" has about 150 monuments of Stone and Bronze Ages; "Nizhnyaya Kama Park" possesses over 80 archeological monuments concerned with sites of ancient men. There are 12 wooden churches, 50 chapels, 18 monuments of residential architecture in 'Kenozersk National Park'. Ilyinsky Churchyard, a unique monument of wooden architecture of XVIII century, is situated in 'Vodlozersky Park'.
In 1999 national parks of Russia were visited by more than 1,205 million people, including 21,4 thousand foreign tourists. 74 hotels,156 tourist centres, 23 museums, 16 visits-centres, 92 nursery forests, 76 ecological camps, 105 parking zones for motor vehicles, 947 special recreation zones operate in such territories.
Regional natural parks are comparatively new category of SPNT of Russia. They are nature-conservative recreational establishments under the jurisdiction of subjects of the Russian Federation. Their territories (water areas) include natural complexes and objects with significant ecological and aesthetic value. Regional natural parks are intended for use in nature-conservative, educational and recreational purposes. These parks occupy territories given to them in perpetuity, in some cases it is the territories of other users and proprietors.
Nowadays, there are 30 SPNT in Russia that have a status of natural parks.
State natural game reserves
State natural game reserves are the territories (water areas) that have a special value for preservation or restoration of natural complexes or their components and maintenance of ecological balance. Declaration a territory a state natural game reserve may be performed both, with withdrawal or without withdrawal from its users and proprietors.
In 2000, 56 out of 67 federal game reserves were under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Agriculture of Russia, and 11 - under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Wildlife sanctuaries are unique, irreplaceable, valuable (in ecological, scientific, cultural and aesthetic view) natural complexes, and also objects of natural and artificial origin.
State control over operation of more than 7.5 thousand wildlife sanctuaries is carried out by territorial bodies of the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia, the State Ecological Committee and the Russian Forestry.
Besides, 28 nature sanctuaries of federal value with total area of 19,4 thousand hectares were registered in the Russian Federation in 1998.
Dendrology parks and botanical gardens
Dendrology parks and botanical gardens are nature-conservative establishments, which carry out creation of special collections of plants for preservation of variety and enrichment of flora, and also realization of scientific and educational activities. Territories of dendrology parks and botanical gardens are intended only for performance of their direct tasks; these territories are given in perpetuity to parks, or research and educational establishments under the jurisdiction of which they are.
In the beginning of 2000, 80 botanical gardens and dendrology parks were under the jurisdiction of the Russian Academy of Sciences.