Island in northwestern Russia becomes nature reserve

Kolguyev island is located in the southeastern Barents Sea. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)
The unique birdlife on the island of Kolguyev needs protection, environmental authorities say.

The Kolguevsky nature reserve (zakaznik) is established in order to preserve and support biodiversity in the Barents Sea and the Arctic, regional authorities in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug inform as a stricter environmental regime is introduced on the island.

The small island located in the south-eastern Barents Sea, north of the Nenets coast, is considered a crucial area for migrating birds. It also is also inhabited by several endangered species.

The nature reserve only covers parts of islands and the protection regime allows for continued traditional industries such as reindeer herding and fishing. Its establishment is initiated by regional authorities and coordinated with the federal Ministry of Natural Resources, the Nenets government says.

Home to Indigenous Nenets
About 400 people, mostly Indigenous Nenets, live on Kolguyev island. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

The 3,500 square kilometer wide island is inhabited mainly by indigenous Nenets people. The population totals about 400, of which about 250 are believed to work in the local oil industry.

In 2013, the island was hit by a major tragedy as the whole population of reindeer was extinguished following massive over-population. In 2012, the number of animals on Kolguyev was estimated to more than 12,000. Then, the herds completely collapsed. In 2016, there were reportedly only 153 animals left on the island.

Oil production on the Kolguyev is operated by the Arctic Oil Company Ltd. (ANK). The company owns the license to the Peschanoozerskoe, the oil field located on the southeastern end of the island and that holds about 16 million barrels of recoverable reserves. Daily production amounts to 340 barrels a day. In 2016, the company was acquired by Urals Energy.

Norway: WWF urges Norway to protect its Arctic forests to help fight climate change, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: More protected lands on Nenets tundra in Arctic Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: How the Army Corps of Engineers turned lenient on Alaska wetlands mitigation, Alaska Public Media

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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