Tourism Brings Revenue and Conflict to Russia's Park System

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Even before the October Revolution arrived, Russia's first protected natural area was set up on the slopes of the Barguzin mountain range and around Lake Baikal in 1916, laying the foundation for a national park system originally designed to keep visitors out. 

Almost a century later, there are hundreds of specially designated sites covering 7 percent of the country's total landmass.  But their mission is undergoing a fundamental transformation as vaguely worded changes to laws at the end of last year are now compelling the parks to attract tourists and earn money - resulting in a philosophical struggle that reflects the ambivalence the state has had toward the parks over the years.

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The Moscow Times