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22:10 | Feb 15 | 2012

“Northern Forum” is Twenty

November 8, 2011 marks 20 years since the establishment of the International Organization of Governors of the Northern Regions “Northern Forum”, of which the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) has been a member since 1993. And the President of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) Yegor Borisov was elected as chairman of the Northern Forum in June last year.

From Bears to Buffaloes

Our Republic is the most active region in the organization, consistently initiating projects and activities aimed at solving many problems of the North and the Arctic. The Associate Secretariat of the Northern Forum functioned in Yakutia for a long time; the Northern Forum Academy, which oversees one of the most successful programs of the Forum – Program “Environment”, is registered in Yakutsk since 2002.
Yakutia has regularly held international seminars and symposiums on environmental projects of the Northern Forum on its territory. In 2004 and 2009 seminars on brown bears took place, in 2006 the working group on floods met in Yakutsk, in 2007 a Symposium on Ecological Traditions of Indigenous Peoples in the Context of Climate Change was held in Neryungri and the settlement of Iengra, in 2008 a seminar on cooperation of northern zoos, and in 2010 a seminar of the UN Development Program and the Northern Forum on Climate Change were held.
Within the framework of the “Environment” Program such projects as “Managing Populations of Brown Bears”, “Youth Ecological Forum”, “Northern Zoos Cooperation”, “Working Group on Floods” are currently being implemented. The tenth General Assembly of the Northern Forum also supported the implementation of such new projects as “The Degradation of Permafrost”, “The Development of Protected Areas” and “A Working Group on Buffaloes”. The last two projects were initiated by the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) and received the support of regions, taking into consideration the significant progress of our region to develop a system of Special Protected Natural Areas – Ytyk Kere Sirder and success of the project on delivery of forest buffaloes from Canada.
The Republic has established an extensive network of Special Protected Natural Areas of regional and local importance, has acquired a wealth of experience to ensure the protection of unique landscapes, rare and endangered flora and fauna. At the same time, in the U.S., Canada, Europe and some regions of Russia various forms of public-private partnerships on environmental protection are being successfully developed, when organizations, indigenous communities and business structures are involved to ensure the operation of Protected Areas. Undoubtedly, their experience can be of great help in improving Special Protected Natural Areas management.
In autumn 2012 Yakutia will host the first workshop on protected areas to which not only the representatives of the regions of the Northern Forum, but also federal agencies, other international organizations are planned to be invited for a comprehensive discussion of all aspects of the Special Protected Natural Areas, and criteria for their establishment.

The Potential has not been Exhausted

As a rule, projects of the Northern Forum arouse great interest in the world. The workshop on brown bears held in Ursha (Sweden) in August 2011 showed that the Northern Forum working group has acquired international reputation, having become one of the most active and effective groups of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the World Association for the Study of Bears. At the suggestion of specialists from the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) a project on genetic studies of Asia-Pacific brown bears has been successfully implemented: DNA analysis of tissue samples from bears of Yakutia, Chukotka, Kamchatka, Sakhalin, Khabarovsk and Primorye territories was performed. American and Japanese geneticists are analyzing the bears on their territories. This work will enable to discover the evolutionary correlation, clarify the sub-specification of bears in different regions.
Also parallel to the seminar on brown bears in Ursha (Sweden), a meeting of the Working Group for Cooperation of Northern Zoos was held, where L.N. Safonov, director of the National Zoo “Orto Doydu”, re-confirmed as the chairman of the working group.
The project’s activity in cooperation between northern zoos enables to attract professionals of zoos from regions outside the Northern Forum, which creates a positive image of the organization and enhances the regions’ interest in joining the Northern Forum. One of such examples is the joining of Predatory Animals Park (Sweden) the Northern Forum as a business partner.
The Sakha Republic (Yakutia) has assumed the chairmanship of the Northern Forum at a critical, most difficult period. Two decades ago the number of members of the Northern Forum reached 28, while currently 12 regions of Russia, Canada, Japan, South Korea and Iceland remain in the organization. The global economic crisis has played an important role here. Nevertheless, the potential of the Forum to enhance international cooperation of the regions is absolutely not exhausted; on the contrary, it can be raised to a qualitatively new level, given the increasing geopolitical importance of the Arctic in the global climate change and prospects for its development which are opening up in this regard.