The Forest in the Metropolis: Elk Island (Losinyi Ostrov) National Park and the Disappointments of the Russian National Park Movement

In: The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review
Author: Alan Roe 1
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A 116 square-kilometer section of forest in the northwest part of Moscow, Elk Island National Park (Losynyi ostrov) became Russia’s first in 1983. Russian environmentalists became enamored with national parks through increased interaction with Western colleagues, Russian environmentalists, including the supporters of Elk Island National Park, asserted that the USSR’s lack of national parks demonstrated that Russian environmental protection efforts lagged behind the West. This strategy was successful in pushing the government to establish national parks, including Elk Island. However, Russian environmentalists have had much less success in convincing government officials to support, protect, and develop national parks, even as they frequently asserted that its failure to do so cast Russia in a bad light before the international community. Because of its highly visible location in Moscow, Elk Island’s struggles have been a particularly painful reminder for Russian environmentalists of the Russian Federation’s seeming disinterest in national parks.

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