These achievements, an on-going process enabling the scientific and environmental communities in the Russian Far East to gain access to policy decisions, were made possible by a Nathan Cummings Foundation Staff Grant, through the Virtual Foundation.

Final Report
"Developing Environmental Policy for Amursky Region"

August 2001

The goal of this project was to enable Non-Governmental Organizations and experts to contribute to the development of environmental policies in Amursky Region (Russian Far East). Part of this process was to develop a series of draft regional environmental and resource management laws for discussion and consideration by policy-makers. [Funding enabled the environmentalists to have the time and resources to follow up their opportunities to influence the development of these policies. This is particularly significant as it contributes to establish the foundations of the rule of law. Among other elements, this aspect of a democratic society requires respect for the legal process, and openness to public concerns at every step of policy formulation. - Ed.]

Laws of Amursky Region are adopted only after they have passed two readings (two rounds of voting in the legislature). Several laws which passed their first reading are currently under development and being revised before the second reading:

  1. "About Territories of Traditional Natural Use of Native Small Nations"

  2. "About Guarantees of the Rights of Native Small Populations"
These draft laws will regulate problems of land and natural resource use in the areas traditionally populated by native small nations of Amursky Region (Evenks). There are four areas in Amursky Region where Evenks have traditionally lived: Zeiski region; Mazanovsky region; Selemdzhinski region and Tyndinski region. Gold-mining and industrial timber cutting are occurring in those regions; these activities have a negative impact on the Evenks' traditional trades: deer-breeding and hunting. Development of these two laws is a very difficult process, because they are considering the procedures of concession of the rights of natural resource use to Evenks in their territories. And this will have an impact on the interests of gold-mining and timber companies, as well as on the financial departments of governmental bodies. This is the reason for such a long deliberation on these two very important laws: the first one was approved in its first reading in the autumn of 1999, and the second one was approved in its first reading in the summer of 2000.

Environmental Protection Laws Passed
The following were developed and passed as laws of Amursky Region, in consultation with environmentalists and scientists:

  1. "About a Reserve Fund for Natural Resources" (dealing with problems especially faced by protected natural territories of regional and local ??importance significance, such as maintaining rare and endangered fauna and flora)

  2. "About Taxation for Use of Overground Water Objects" (regulation of taxation issues of water use; procedures for taxes collected to be used for environmental water protection and re-creation of water supplies)

  3. "About Protection of the Forests from Fires" (regulation of the issues of fire prevention in the forests)

  4. "About Taxation for Transformation of Forest Lands into non-forest Lands for the Purposes not Related to the Forestry Activities" (regulation of taxation amounts when forest land is transformed for industrial, construction and transportation purposes)

  5. "About Budget Fund for Reforestation" (regulation of procedures of money use coming from forest taxes for the purposes of forest protection and re-creation)

  6. "About Procedures of Use of the Forest Area Fund and Use of Forests Not Belonging to the Forest Fund" (regulation of procedures of forest use)

  7. "About Taxation for Use of Forest Fund and Forests Not Belonging to the Forest Fund" (regulation of tax size for forest use. This law is under constant alterations related to the increasing taxes for forest use; in June of 2000 we have succeeded in significantly increasing the cost of pine-trees).

Also there we developed and accepted several regional programs on rational use of natural resources of Amursky Region Other draft laws under discussion are expected to be passed in the autumn and winter of 2001

Definition of Natural Territories to be Protected
With the support of the World Wide Fund for Nature (Small Grants Program) and the Association of Amursky Region Municipalities, we are working to determine the natural territories of regional and local significance in different categories, as outlined in the Law of Amursky Region "About a Reserve Fund for Natural Resources". This process will result in legal protection for these areas.

Consultant fees $600
Office supplies$394
Travel $98
Communication costs $89
Literature $86
Total: $1267