The role of marine and coastal protected areas (MCPAs) is becoming increasingly important in the changing Arctic. These protected areas potentially facilitate the adaptation of natural ecosystems to climate change by mitigating direct anthropogenic threats, balance various kinds of space and resources use, and alert the society to changes taking place in the marine and coastal ecosystems. This chapter explores how a historically established set of coastal and marine protected areas in the Russian Arctic can meet these challenges. Eight strictly protected nature reserves or zapovedniks, one national park, three federal natural reserves or zakazniks, and one nature monument encompass marine compartments or have marine buffer zones. They cover a number of essential biodiversity features: some marine areas within MCPAs may be considered as integral marine ecosystems or include sites of primary importance for ecosystem monitoring because of the existence of long-term observation datasets. The total marine surface area under protection totals nearly 96,000 km2, or about 2% of the areas of the Arctic seas under Russia’s jurisdiction (the Bering Sea excluded). Management of the Arctic MCPAs is a very complex task. It is no surprise that management effectiveness of the federal Arctic MCPAs in Russia is scored relatively low. Potential threats and future challenges to the protection of Arctic marine biodiversity and MCPAs are discussed in this chapter, essentially calling for strengthening the MCPA network. As it is difficult to expect that the number of MPAs in the Russian influence zone can be significantly increased in the next decade, the efforts of conservation organizations should be balanced between advocating for creating new reserves and strengthening the capacity of the existing MCPAs. General remoteness and limited access to most of the Arctic MCPAs call for development of remote sensing and other distant methods for monitoring and surveillance. The challenges for the MCPA network in the Arctic are difficult to meet when using only the inherent zapovednik and national park capacity and governmental support to date. To be effective, establishing a horizontal cooperation and partnership with science, NGOs, businesses, and local communities is the only way for protected natural areas to perform their important mission in a changing Arctic.

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