Khibiny National Park in Murmansk added to the Green Belt of Fennoscandia

Press release 2018-03-02 at 11:18
Hiipinän kivinen tunturimaisema
© Photo: Dmitry Ryabov / WWF Russia

On 19 February 2018 two new national parks were established in Russia, Khibiny National Park in the Murmansk region and Kodar in the Transbaikal region.

Khibiny National Park is located about 100 kilometres from the Finnish border, in the central part of the Kola Peninsula. The new national park belongs to the Green Belt of Fennoscandia that is composed of nature conservation areas in the border regions of Finland, Norway and Russia.

Khibiny National Park with valuable flora, fauna and geological features comprises an area of more than 84,000 hectares that is composed of mountains, small glaciers, northern boreal forest and tundra. In terms of the types of stone Khibiny National Park is more varied than the Lappish mountains in Finland and many rare plant species are also found in the area. Finnish geologist and professor Wilhelm Ramsay mapped the area on several occasions already at the turn of the 19th and 20th century. The special mineral found in Khibiny, ramsayite, was named after him.

With locations where ancient rites of the Saami people were practised, Khibiny has cultural and historical value as well. The area is already a popular destination for nature tourism, and the idea of conserving it has been discussed since the 1990s. Matters that delayed the establishment of the national park include mining operations in the area.

Established history of cooperation on nature conservation

Since the 1970s Finland has engaged in long-term cooperation with Russia on the development of the conservation area networks through working groups, projects, research expeditions and joint publications. The aim of the nature conservation cooperation is to promote the preservation of biodiversity in the northern environments on both sides of the border.

The Finnish-Russian Working Group on Nature Conservation established in 1985 is active in promoting cooperation between different regions in Finland and Northwest Russia. This cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary working group follows topical nature conservation issues in Finland and Russia, protection of threatened species and environmental education and supports the implementation of projects concerned with conservation areas.

One concrete example of this cooperation are the counterpart parks on in Finland and Northwest Russia. The Finnish partner in this matter is the Parks and Wildlife Finland of Metsähallitus. The counterpart parks include the Finnish-Norwegian-Russian Inari-Pasvik conservation area in Northeast Lapland, Oulanka-Paanajärvi in Kuusamo on both sides of the border, Ystävyydenpuisto / Friendship Park in Kuhmo and Kostomuksha and the Hossa National Park in Suomussalmi established in 2017. Plans are under way concerning a counterpart to the Khibiny National Park in the national parks located in the Finnish Lapland.

The two new national parks set up in Russia in February are follow-up to the decisions concerning new nature conservation areas made in 2017, which was the Year of the Environment in Russia. Last year four new nature conservation areas were established in Russia, including the National Park in the Lake Ladoga archipelago and Nature Park on the islands of the Eastern Gulf of Finland.

Photos from Khibiny for media use (photos: Dmitry Ryabov / WWF Russia):

Inquiries:

Kristiina Niikkonen, Senior Environmental Adviser, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 295 250 198, firstname.lastname@ym.fi

Aimo Saano, Research Cooperation Manager, Metsähallitus, Parks and Wildlife Finland, Chair of the Finnish-Russian Working Group on Nature Conservation, tel. +358 400 346 467, firstname.lastname@metsa.fi

Tapio Lindholm, Leading Expert, Finnish Environment Institute, Chair of the Finnish-Russian Working Group on Nature Conservation, tel. +358 295 251 379, firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi