Category of especially protected natural areas established by constituent entities of Russia: statistical and legal analysis
Constituent entities of the Russian Federation have the right to establish their own protected area categories (i.e. regional categories) that are not mentioned in the Federal Law On Protected Areas. The objectives of this study are to determine the number of regional categories, to list and group their names, to understand their distribution across the constituent entities of the federation, to find out how they are used, and to reveal legal problems. The research is based on the legislation as of January 2019 and on official statistical information as of January 2018 or later. The full list of regional categories was prepared. There are 85 constituent entities in Russia, and there are 255 categories in 64 of them. There are 140 unique categories, and 92 categories were mentioned in the legislation of only one constituent entity, and none of the categories were mentioned at least in half of the regions. Categories of protected areas of local importance exist in 59 regions. Moderate positive correlation between the number of categories and the number of real protected areas is observed. The most important legal problems are the copying of categories from Federal Law On Protected Areas and confusion between legal regime of protected areas and the legal regime of other areas that have some value for conservation e.g. water protection zones, protective forests and especially protective forest plots, medical rehabilitation localities and resorts, historical and cultural monuments. It is doubtful whether this legislation complies with the protection of human rights and principle of equality as well as with the division of power between the Russian Federation and its constituent entities. Legal problems of regional categories are caused by uncertainty in the definition of protected areas and excessive rigidity of protected area categories system established by the federal law. The preferred way to solve the problems is not the cancellation of regional categories, but thorough long-term work based on principles of scientific justification, individualization, and dialog.
environmental protection, protected areas, protected area categories, legislation of constituent entities of Russia, federalism, division of powers, legal statistics, empirical legal studies
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