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Regions

«Green» Economy

It is customary to call «green» a stable and flexible economy that creates more favorable conditions for people’s lives without causing significant damage to the environment. In fact, green economy implies growth in production with a reduction in energy costs, improving the quality of life while reducing the resources used and the burden on ecosystems. There are no contradictions in this approach considering that an infinite increase in the consumed natural resources is impossible, and the division of resources into exhaustible and inexhaustible proves to be very conditional in the detailed study of the issue.

© WWF Russia
© WWF Russia

Ecosystem services assessment

The concept of ecosystem services is closely related to the notion of natural capital, which refers to the totality of living organisms and resources of the biosphere. An assessment of ecosystem services provides a clear picture of the real value of flora and fauna as elements of natural capital as opposed to the market price of individual natural resources. These resources are considered in their totality, taking into account the functions that they perform in nature, and the costs that would have to be incurred for a person to compensate for the negative effects if these resources did not exist. For example forests, in terms of their market they only have value as wood and its derivatives. At the same time in nature, the forest performs a huge number of functions: the trees produce oxygen, protect the soil from erosion, are home to many living things, and this is not a complete list.

The economics of ecosystems and biodiversity (TEEB) is trying to assess the real value of nature. TEEB is a relatively new approach, which has already become a fundamental in almost 30 countries of the world. It is based on:

  • calculating the value of nature;
  • an assessment of the real value of the benefits that nature produces;
  • introducing mechanisms that take this cost into account when making managerial decisions.

Kamchatka will be the first region of Russia where a progressi approach to assessing the value of natural capital will be applied in practice.

Mining industry development

According to the forecasts of the Russian government, the extraction of gold, silver and platinum in Kamchatka can reach 20–25 tons by 2025. According to the Kamchatka Krai administration representatives, the mining industry is a significant sector of the region’s economy and its development is inevitable. At the same time, an increase in production in the mining sector poses serious threats to the well-being of salmon populations in the region.

WWF experts agree that the further development of Kamchatka is closely connected with the natural resources of the peninsula. It should be understood that the extraction of minerals can be beneficial only in the short term and is limited, according to the most optimistic estimates, to several decades. While salmon ecosystems have been, for hundreds of thousands of years, and remain the main source of the existence of many species of living beings, including humans. Therefore mining of minerals should be carried out on the basis of ecologically and socially responsible approaches. It should not only fulfill the requirements of legislation, but also surpass them. The introduction of an active management strategy allows us to assess in advance possible risks and take the necessary measures to reduce them, which leads to a mutual benefit of mining companies and the environment.

Development of Kamchatka's power industry

Given the large energy potential of Kamchatka, the existing energy system of the region is characterized by a high cost of energy resources, serious negative consequences for the environment from the wrong strategic decisions taken and low energy efficiency. All this is further aggravated by isolation from federal networks and markets, and harsh climatic and natural conditions.

The plans of the Kamchatka Krai government to establish the peninsula as one of the leading territories in socio-economic development require the modernization of the energy system to meet potential demand. Among the projects to ensure energy security and sustainable economic development of the region, the regional authorities also consider projects that can have significant negative impact on the environment of Kamchatka. For example, oil and gas development on the Okhotsk and Bering Seas shelves and construction of large hydroelectric power stations.

The purpose of the new WWF project is to analyze options and opportunities for the transition of the Kamchatka energy system to alternative energy sources for the benefit of local population and business, and to search for the most optimal energy development scenario in terms of environmental and economic feasibility. The data collected and resulting scenario will be handed over to the decision-makers at the regional and federal levels, financial institutions and investors.

Oil and Gas Sector

The development of oil and gas deposits on the shelves off the coast of Kamchatka is in limbo. Officially, oil and gas companies state that there are no plans to develop the West Kamchatka and West Bering Sea shelves for the coming years. At the same time, «Gazprom» and «Rosneft» regularly conduct exploratory drilling and seismic exploration in their licensed areas. Despite the fact that it has not yet been possible to find promising hydrocarbon deposits on the shelf, serious negative impact on aquatic biological resources can be expected even at the stage of geological explorations: seismic exploration can lead to the death of juvenile fish, disrupt salmon migration during their movement to the rivers to spawn.

Offshore areas of Kamchatka are of great importance for the Russian fishing industry. A significant part of marine bioresources produced here are comprised by especially valuable species of fish and invertebrates (pollock, salmon, herring, halibut, crabs, etc.).

According to WWF experts, the development of non-renewable natural resources should be postponed until the time when new technologies will allow to develop the deposit without damaging the unique natural wealth of the peninsula, and a system of marine protected areas will be created.