The Last Great Wild -- Growing Environmental Stewardship in Siberia and the Russian Far East
Siberia and the Russian Far East are home to some of the most profoundly beautiful and globally significant wilderness areas left on earth. Russia is home to one-fifth of the world's forests, and endangered species such as the Amur leopard, Siberian tiger, and western Pacific gray whale call the region home. Lake Baikal is the world's oldest and deepest lake, holding one-fifth of the world's freshwater. The Kamchatka Peninsula is home to the world's densest population of brown bears and boasts spawning rivers for one-fifth of the northern Pacific's wild salmon.
The immense social, economic, and political upheaval Russia has experienced over the last two decades have put a tremendous strain on the environment. Responding to the country's economic crisis in the late 1990s, the Russian government approved large-scale natural resource extraction projects across previously untouched areas of the Russian Far East and Siberia. Today, driven by high prices for fossil fuels and other natural resources, Russian and international companies are exploiting the country's oil, gas, mineral, timber, and marine resources at an alarming pace.
Thankfully, Siberia and the Russian Far East are also home to strong, vibrant communities, including hundreds of indigenous communities which retain traditional subsistence lifestyles. Long-term, sustainable environmental change must originate from strong local organizations and local communities -- the best stewards of natural resources and biodiversity. For this reason, Pacific Environment supports local efforts throughout Siberia and the Russian Far East to protect the environment.