Evolution of Ideas about Zapovednost
Published: Shtilmark, F.R., 1997. An Analysis of the Evolution of the System of State Natural Reserves of the Russian Federation // Doctoral dissertation in biology, in the form of a scientific report. – Pp. 18–19.
In the process of the research, a study was undertaken of legislative acts and draft acts concerning natural reserves, their management and research in Russia, the USSR, and the Russian Federation, which were developed starting from 1910 (the regulations on the once planned Caucasian State Reserve have been preserved until our days). Among them, of special interest – in terms of size as well as content – are Regulations on Natural Reserves drafted by lawyer Sergei Vladislavovich Zavadsky (1871–1943) back in 1913–1914 (the draft was not published; it was stored at the archive of the Russian Geographical Society, fund 1, register 1, sheets 157–175). The draft, similar to a number of later documents, reflects the original classical postulates of the founding fathers of natural reserve management and research – V.V Dokuchaev, I.P. Borodin, G.A. Kozhevnikov, A.P. Semenov-Tyan-Shansky, V.N. Sukachev and other domestic scientists who never failed to emphasize the importance of the principle of complete inviolability of preserved areas “the use of which is exclusively granted to nature itself” (Dokuchaev, 1961). “The basic objective of nature preservation is to keep some of its areas intact for the purpose of scientific research” (Kozhevnikov, 1925). “A natural reserve … is a certain area that has been declared inviolable forever” (Solovyev, 1918).
The first-ever Soviet draft of a Decree of the Council of People’s Commissars “On State Preservation for a Scientific or Artistic Purpose of Areas of Land and Water and Earth Interior,” prepared by N.N. Podyapolsky in January 1919 in Moscow after a meeting in the Kremlin with V.I. Lenin, defined scientific preservation as “shielding areas of virgin nature against any sort of human interference” (Podyapolsky, 1929). The well-known “Lenin’s” Decree “On the Preservation of Natural Monuments, Gardens and Parks” from September 16, 1921, also interprets natural reserves as inviolable territories. Pursuant to the Resolution of the All-Union Central Executive Committee and Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR “On the Preservation of Areas of Nature and Its Individual Products…” (1925), particularly valuable natural areas could be taken under protection “on terms of either restricted use or of leaving them IN INTACT FORM. FOR THAT PURPOSE, THEY CAN BE GRANTED THE STATUS OF A NATURAL RESERVE. Complete natural reserves are areas of nature in relation to which practical use and violation of their natural state are prohibited for the purpose of preserving the possibility to study in them the laws of development of nature.”
In the first official “Model Regulations” on natural reserves issued by the People’s Commissariat for Education (1929), the principle of inviolability was formally preserved, but already challenged: “Recognized as natural reserves shall be land or water areas that are to be left intact forever or to be subjected to LIMITED ECONOMIC USE.” Soon, on June 20, 1930, a Resolution of the All-Union Central Executive Committee and Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR “On the Preservation and Development of the Natural Riches of the RSFSR” was adopted, defining nature preservation for many years to come as “a system of measures aimed at the protection, development, and qualitative improvement of the country’s natural riches.” In that resolution, the interpretation of natural reserves as areas of nature that are “declared intact” was preserved; however, that was the last time that inviolability of natural reserves was mentioned in Soviet legislation. That thesis came to be bitterly criticized as being “of an idealistically-bourgeois nature” (Winer, 1991).
It was only in 1960 that the Law on the Preservation of Nature in the RSFSR brought back the formulation that had been lost in the 30s, defining natural reserves as territories that are forever exempt from economic use for scientific, research, cultural, or educational purposes; however, that was largely just a declaration (soon came the 1961 “crackdown”). The 1962 Regulations on Natural Reserves issued by the RSFSR Chief Directorate for Hunting and Reserves provided for the allotment of areas “in the territory of which any kind of human interference in the natural processes shall be ruled out”; however, it was excluded after a long discussion in the process of drafting of the 1981 Model Regulations on Natural Reserves. This formulation was included in the section on natural reserves of the Federal Law “On Specially Protected Natural Areas” on the dissertationist’s initiative (Art. 9., paragraph 3), but the initial words “must be allotted” were replaced in the final version by the vague expression “can be allotted” which radically distorted the desirable meaning.
As we can see, the fundamental thesis stating the inviolability of natural reserves has stood the test of life, but is at present subjected to new attacks, with the official legislation being conducive to undermining it by granting “the right of choice” to the chief executives of specific entities. Some formulations of the Law on Specially Protected Natural Territories (SPNT) (1995), in particular paragraph 2 of Article 9, actually allow conducting all sorts of “business” interventions within natural re4serves. The classical ideas of scientific preservation are being dissolved in the process of complication and growth of the system of SPNT; the term itself is being devaluated, with zapovednost (i.e. COMPLETE EXEMPTION of a natural territory or object from ANY KIND of use) being substituted for by partial protective measures. The wide environmental movement also promotes this, failing to comprehend or simplifying the concepts of scientific preservation. In this regard, a large role is played by legal issues, in particular the current land use procedure. Many contradictions could be resolved as a result of a more careful scientific development of individual regulations for each of the functioning natural reserve