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    Strategy for Biodiversity conservation in Northeast Asia.


    International working meeting resolution on

    Biodiversity Conservation in Northeast Asia,

    June 2-3, 27-28; July 28-31, 2001.


    In 1991 the idea of the International mega polis creation under the aegis of the UNDP was put forward. Since then goals of the Tumen River Development Area (TREDA) project have completely changed. Its main aim now is integration of all countries located in the region into the economic development process. The Tumen river is largest in the Japan sea basin. The project envisages construction of new roads in the river basin, infrastructure development, construction and reconstruction of ports on the coast, implication of the new labor resources into the economics. All of the above cannot but influence whole ecological situation of the region.

    Necessity of preservation of the unique nature in the Tumen river basin and in Northeast Asia as a whole is recognized both by the international community and on the governmental level. All the countries interested in this project have signed the Memorandum of understanding ecological principles, controlling Tumen river economic development area and Northeast Asia (1997); repeated work meetings concerning ecological aspects of the project have been conducted. Taking into consideration rapidity of economical and political development of the region and basing on the results of mutual discussions, the Russian side proposes the regional scientifically established concept of biodiversity conservation, considering Northeast Asia generally, and the Tumen river basin in particular, as a multi-level ecosystem.

    Biodiversity is the most important resource of the mankind. First of all it is important genetically, secondly it provides diversity and normal reproduction of the biological resources, as well as conservation of the normal ecological state of the environment; and finally, it is a unique tourist resource, especially in the sphere of ecotourism. That is why biodiversity conservation means conservation of important and unique natural resource for us and for the coming generations.

    Biodiversity conservation is a complex multilevel problem. First of all every biological component of nature is important itself, and each biological component exists and develops in correlation and interaction with many other biological components and abiotic environment. That is why conservation and protection of one component is possible only within conservation and protection of all other components, which are closely connected to it, and their habitats, that is conservation of the whole ecosystem.

    Some components of the ecosystem have different agility, dynamics; they cooperate with various combinations of other biological components. That means that various components exist and develop in different, multilevel structures. For instance, birds, animals, transfer of seeds and so on. It is important to determine and select structures, in which these components cooperate with other most completely. In time-spatial respect these would be multilevel geosystems with allotment of exact borders of these systems.

    In general, biodiversity conservation problem must be resolved simultaneously on several geosystem levels, including big geosystems within the limits of Northeast Asia or in the whole Asian-Pacific region.

    In the contact zones (land-sea, land-ocean) biodiversity conservation problems acquire additional specificity; rather considerable interactions and connections between some of the land biological complexes and sea complexes are observed here.

    To solve biodiversity conservation problems it is necessary to have forecast estimates of infrastructure systems development, major industries in this region. For example, energy industry development is expected in Northeast Asia (hydroelectric, coal, gas, and oil power stations); development of oil and gas resources, forestry, agriculture; development of infrastructure systems; development of transportation network and a network of oil and gas pipelines, other engineering structures. In this case within the ecological expertise of the regional development projects, which is being carried out now, it is expedient to conduct forecast appraisal of the dynamics and changes in biodiversity when implementing various projects or deciding on possible variants of the regional development; at that in some cases it is necessary to foresee measures that could compensate changes in biodiversity, creation of particularly protected natural territories (PPNT), connection corridors, introduction and so on.

    In many of the Asian-Pacific region countries contraction of natural habitats and important ecosystems as a result of human activity is observed. For instance, researches performed in the territory of the TumenNET area show that maximum diversity of biogeographic, socioeconomic and other systems, as well as systems of other types, represented in Northeast Asia, are concentrated in the Tumen river basin. In this area two ecoregions of the worldwide importance for the biodiversity conservation are distinguished:

    • mixed (coniferous large-leaved) large-leaved forests of the Far East;
    • Daurian steppe one of the most well-preserved steppe ecosystems in steppe and forest-steppe zones in Eurasia.

    The Tumen river basin and its surroundings still have last representative for Northeast Asia areas, occupied by coniferous large-leaved forests, which are valuable habitats for tiger and leopard as well as for other species of Manchurian flora and fauna. Wetland ecosystems of the TumenNET area occupy key place in East Asian flyway.

    Most part of the remaining aboriginal forests and wetland ecosystems is situated in the territory of the Russian Federation. Significant part of the remaining steppe and forest-steppe ecosystems and a significant part of wetlands is situated in the territory of Mongolia.

    There is a common long-term tendency of loosing ecosystems valuable for biodiversity conservation in the TumenNET area. A long-term tendency of natural ecosystems area contraction and worsening of their qualitative structure is observed with different intensity for the last 150 years. Within the limits of each national territory there is a specific set of reasons threats to ecosystems biodiversity, which forms negative tendencies of loss and transformation of ecosystems.

    At realization of the negative tendencies the most serious threats to biodiversity of the examined territories will be connected with the following losses in the structure and areas of ecosystems:

    • irrevocable fragmentation of the Cherniye Gori region ecosystems with subsequent loss of their connections with Sikhote-Alin ecosystems and ecosystems of the southern part of East-Manchurian mountains (Chanbaishan massif);
    • loss of the areas occupied by the ecosystems valuable for biodiversity in Southwest Primorye (SWP), Korean autonomous region and in the North Hamgen province weakly and non-transformed coniferous large-leaved forests, wetlands; worsening of qualitative structure of these ecosystems;
    • contraction of the areas occupied by Daurian steppe ecosystems mountain forest steppe, forests, and wetlands;
    • increase of the natural aridization processes as a result of irrational nature use;
    • decrease of the areas occupied by marine vegetation, increase of eutrophication tendencies, loss of the series of valuable procurement species of coastal marine landscapes.


    Despite of the fact that there are several PPNTs of the different status in the TumenNET area, and that degree of their concentration in the SWP can be considered one of the leading in Russia, the economic state of them is enormously tough. Part of the PPNTs with a low protective status exist only on paper, they dont have any structures and dont have defined areas of responsibility. It is necessary that natural monuments would become directly subordinate to neighboring reserves and zakazniks. Last years due to development of ecotourism and decrease of state financial support the preconceived opinion appeared that the reserves must be self-sufficient. This perverts the fundamentals of reserves as a standard intact nature pattern. Of course, ecotourism plays an undoubtedly big role in advocacy of nature conservation and might serve as a source of some additional financial incomes into reserves, but simple calculations show that hopes for reserves self-sufficiency demand increased number of visitors, which will finally lead to extermination of the meaning of the reserve as a nature pattern territory. We see solution of this problem is in creation of nature protection complexes in the territory of reserves in a shape of national or natural parks with maintenance of the reserve nucleus, with making these multifunction structures subordinate to reserves in general management and nature use coordination.

    It is necessary to keep reserves as specific scientific centers. These are unique places where several generations of scientists perform research work on the same territory and often using same methodology. The good example of this is activity of the oldest Russian reserve Kedrovaya Pad (1916), and Far-Eastern Marine reserve, which is the only one of its kind in Russia; these reserves are components of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. These reserves allow not only conservation of the unique biodiversity of the region, but also to examine long-term tendencies of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Russian Academy of Sciences possesses huge human potential and a several centuries of natural scientific fundamental research experience. Russian Academy of Sciences should be included into authorized nature conservation bodies to restore its coordination and organization role in reserve business.

    Realization of the series of economic projects in the TumenNET area shows the necessity of correction of the existing national PPNTs borders and perfection of the entire nature protection complex. Living nature does not understand national borders, while many integral ecosystems, playing the key role in biodiversity conservation, comprise territories of the neighboring countries. Such areas need creation of transboundary PPNTs, being the jurisdiction of different countries, but performing the common task of biodiversity conservation. Far Eastern Stare Marine Reserve and Khasan Natural Park in the Russian Federation, Zinsin (China) and Arsom (Nando) in the DPRK can serve as examples of such nature protection structures. Some of the areas that can play a role of migration corridors for large predators need rebuilding of historic landscape structures, including artificial reforestation. What is more, part of the Russian territory, directly adjacent to the Tumen river basin and some neighboring parts of China and DPRK must be recognized as wetlands of international importance according to Ramsar Convention.

    Migratory birds are specific object of international resources. The paths of their seasonal transitions along the Asian-Pacific flyway extend for several thousands kilometers and cover several countries. At the same time the area that is adjacent to the Tumen river lower reaches is located on the crossing of north-south and west-east migration ways and serve as a basic place for rest and feeding for the birds during migrations in Northeast Asia. However, successful conservation measures in the TumenNET area are not enough to save ornithological biodiversity. Migratory birds are international wealth and do not recognize national or administrative borders. That is why it is expedient to elaborate a system of protective measures, which will include both activities in the TumenNET area itself and coordinated international activities aimed at improvement of the general ecological situation in the constant habitats of the migratory birds. Participants of the working meeting call other countries to join the Project and offer their suggestions.

    Nature conservation concernment of the countries participating in the TumenNET must be fixed by fixed by a number of already existing international conventions. Thus, the Bonn Convention on migratory birds is still not ratified by any of the countries, participating in the Project. It is necessary that Russia signs bilateral conventions on conservation of migratory birds with China, Australia and other countries, situated along the Asian-Pacific migration corridor.

    Poaching and illegal trade of living resources has far overgrown the scale of national problems and might be prevented only by voluntary efforts of the responsible bodies of the countries, territories of which become the place for collection, transit and selling of the illegally procured objects. It is necessary to coordinate the efforts of the customs offices aimed at clampdown of the attempts of exporting resources outside of Russia. Historically preconceived attitude to the wildlife in the Asian-Pacific countries as to potential source of nutrition or medicine serves as a constant economic incentive for poaching in the boundary regions of the Russian Far East. At the same time, the only possible solution for elimination poaching of the Far-Eastern bche-de-mer and Primorye scallop is taking prohibitory and retaliatory measures. It is also necessary to develop economic mechanisms of a steady and non-exhaustive resource use encouragement, as well as introduction of legal international trade procedure.

    Russian citizens have not traditionally viewed the majority of species, considered valuable by Asian residents, as an object of hunt, that is why they remain almost intact in Russia. Simultaneously, absence of any norms for limitation of such objects extraction from nature and a free mass catching of them by residents of other countries may soon become the reason for disturbance of the ecological balance in a series of ecosystems. No permission is needed for hunt on these species, and in many cases the role of these species in maintenance of the region biodiversity is not completely studied. Any extraction has to have justified norms, which take into consideration ecological function of the object and its role in biodiversity conservation.

    Conservation of marine biodiversity has a no less importance in the Asian-Pacific region. This involves a lot of specific relations and problems. For example, seawaters of SWP are the most southern for the Far East of Russia. In this zone of different origin and thermic waters intermixture, on the border of moderate and subtropical biogeographic zones marine biodiversity has reached its highest form. At the same time, a series of factors like monsoon climate, typhoons, benthal relief, structure of currents, as well as the fact that most sea invertebrates have larval plankton stage and spawning migrations can be considered as risk factors; their cooperation with anthropogenic influence at certain conditions may be a major threat for marine biodiversity of the region. Marine systems of the given region are greatly dependent on the Tumen river flow, purity of its waters and hence they depend on the general level of the economic development along the entire Tumen river basin. Any decision that is ecologically unreasoned may become a threat to biodiversity of ecosystems, situated many kilometers down the river. This demands participation of hydrobiologists in evaluation of most terrestrial projects, obligatory construction of purifying plants and development of a multilevel system of sea monitoring, including sensitive methods of evaluation for timely prevention of ecological after-effects.

    It is also expedient to strengthen biodiversity conservation in ecological appraisal. Now most of the projects are evaluated considering environmental influence of its different components. As a rule there is no complex appraisal, which takes synergetic effect on the ecosystem into consideration.

    Monitoring program must not only include evaluation of changes in different indices of the ecological situation, but also take the consequences of the revealed trends into account. Monitoring needs to be performed on the international level within the unified tracking system, in the same methodological and time framework, within the same informational space.

    Special attention should be paid to ecological education on all levels of socioeconomic status of the TumenNET area residents. It is necessary to bring up ecologically conscious managers of both commercial and state structures, local authorities of the same kind.

    The priority measures aimed at biodiversity conservation in Northeast Asia should be as follows:


    1. PPNT system improvement:


    • financial support of the existing PPNTs;
    • inclusion of the Tumen river estuary region into the list of wetlands protected by the Ramsar Convention;
    • creation of the boundary PPNTs system; maintenance of ecological corridors for large terrestrial animals;
    • framing of buffer nature protection complexes around reserves.


    2. Large predators conservation:


    • increase of wild ungulate animals number;
    • instauration and support of deer breeding facilities as an additional feeding base for Far East leopard;
    • ban or partial limitation of hunt in Far East leopard habitats.


    3. Birds biodiversity conservation:


    • preparation and signing international conventions in the migratory birds and wetlands conservation sphere;
    • restriction and limitation of hunting in some regions in periods of year when birds become most vulnerable;
    • lead-up and formation of an international migratory birds biological resource management system on the entire Australian-Asian flyway; monitoring of condition and determination of extraction quotas for ornithological objects.


    4. Marine biodiversity and coastal landscapes conservation:


    • evaluation of the current condition and changes in coastal communities and populations of some valuable marine species during the last decade;
    • maricultural restoration of basic commercial species populations;
    • implementation of the sustainable coastal fishing principles, including expansion of their rights with subsequent increase of their responsibility for biodiversity conservation, increase of control over biodiversity condition and marine bioresources; introduction of ecosystem approach to coastal marine resources use;
    • inclusion of the obligatory analysis of possible consequences for coastal marine biodiversity into ecological appraisal of all economic projects.


    5. Anti-poaching reinforcement and prevention of illegal export of animals, plants and their derivatives:


    • support of special mobile anti-poaching brigades;
    • interstate coordination of customs services and other bodies activity that controls extraction and movement of zoogenic and vegetative origin;
    • increase of efficiency and coordination of state nature protection institutions activity.


    6. Control of condition and monitoring of biodiversity and environment:


    • creation of a unified multilevel environment biomonitoring system, including stations in the Tumen river and the Razdolnaya river estuary areas;
    • making of maps showing sensitivity of coastal marine regions to oil and other types of pollution.

    Prepared by B.I. Lebedev, with assistance of P.Y. Baklanov, A.V. Ozolinsh and Yu.V. Shibaev; translated into English by I.B. Lebedev


    Findings for discussion with stakeholders on the Tumen River Basin Zone


    International working meeting resolution on Biodiversity Conservation in Northeast Asia, June 2-3, 27-28; July 28-31, 2001.

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