United Nations Development Programme

Russian Federation

Gorno-Altaisk, January 27 - RIA Novosti. “The United Nations Development Programme will allocate 9 million rubles under the 2012 Climate Project to establish a new natural park in the Chelushman valley – a popular tourist area in the Altai region,” says to Alexander Bondarev, the UNDP/GEF project manager.

The new nature park "Ak-Cholushpa" was created in the Altai region in October last year to protect the fragile and rare landscapes of the Chelushman valley from the huge flow of uncontrolled backpackers, who may simply destroy the area. Currently, the park is being developed.

The uniqueness of the Chelushman valley lays primarily in the fact that  it is home to 27% of plant species and 41% of the animals listed in the Red Book of the Altai Republic. In addition, there are many ancient burial mounds, including the famous Pazyryk burial mounds, which are historical monuments and unique heritage of the Altai people. Moreover, unique is such a close proximity of the steppe to the alpine altitudinal zones, as in the Altai.


Million Rubles for Nature

According to A. Bondarev, the UNDP/GEF project manager, the UN Development Programme has  great experience in supporting natural parks. The UN estimates show that the Republic of Altai is the leading region today by the number of such areas.

"We are able to provide 9 million rubles per year of finance from the UN Development Programme resources that we allocate from the so-called climate project, which aims  to create  protected areas. But the money will be transferred only once  this year, as the project unfortunately finishes. This is a very large amount of money, therefore we are a little bit concerned whether the park is able to spend it", he explained.

"This is a one-time injection and, frankly, this is the first time we have ever funded natural parks to such an extent," he said adding that additional financial support would be provided for "Ak-Cholushpa" by the World Wildlife Fund through microloans to the local population, as well as public training programmes.

He said that training programmes for the local population in the Altai region is the top-priority task, which is even more important than green financial investments.


For People, not for the Park

The basic principle of the Ak-Cholushpa Natural Park, compared to other parks, is that it will be supported not by its own funds, but by the local population, which is also beneficial for nature conservation, says the environmental expert.

"Parks are created for people – this is a common approach. Parks are usually created in a depressed area, where there is no economic activity. A park is a kind of external structure that helps people to survive. The local population can work as guides for tourists, thus making money. Sometimes the interests of the park are taken into the account, sometimes not, " he explained.

The Ak-Cholushpa Natural Park, located in the eastern part of the Altai Republic in Ulagansk District, consists of three zones: the greatest – "Chelyshman" – on the south shore of the Lake Teletskoye, "Kalbak" – along the Kokorya river, and the smallest "Pazyryk – to the south-east of Balyktuyul village in the Pazyryk area.

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