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Sustainable development of the Baikal region

Source:  Lake Baikal: atlas. - Irkutsk, 2005. - P. 108.

Baikal lives a mysterious inner life; its secret is guarded day and night, and it is unwillingly parting with century-old mysteries.

Baikal is an outstanding example of geological and biological evolution that has been occurring for 25-30 million years of the lake existence and is still going on. The natural process of the lake development is keeping on.

The values of the Baikal region consist of not only natural and aesthetic components. The region possesses huge and variable resource potential: ore and rock minerals, extremely clean fresh water, underground mineralised and thermal springs, game-preserves, as well as land, forest, and recreational resources. It is natural that further development of the region will rely on this potential. However, its use should not bring any harm to the integrity of the natural complex, which is the property of the present and future generations.

The high level of vulnerability of natural complex of the region, conservation of historical and cultural monuments dictate the necessity of creation of the integrated system of control of tourist groups, and of the state and utilization of tourism and recreation facilities. Although the recreational land use needs strict control of anthropogenic influence on nature, it should be regarded as an alternative to other types of economic activity. It is necessary to find a reasonable balance between economic development and nature conservation.

The Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences initiated to work out a programme of sustainable development of the Baikal region. The Government of Republic of Buryatia, as well as the administrations of the Irkutsk and Chita Oblasts actively supported this initiative.

Regional programmes of sustainable development of the region are being carried out. These programmes should correspond to the national strategy and federal programme. Some work is being conducted on a number of international scientific projects. Large creative potential and the authority of the Irkutsk Scientific Centre made Lake Baikal and Irkutsk city the centre of international meetings and symposia, fairs and exhibitions. Scientists elaborate recommendations how to make the wealth of Pribaikalye serve for today, how to protect vulnerable nature from unreasonable introduction of engineering, how to combine economic land use with maximum care of the conservation of natural equilibrium and at the same time to provide the population of the region with favourable living conditions. The deepest lake in the world can be called a natural laboratory that helps scientists see the processes of evolution of the past and predict the future.

Being included in the List of World Heritage Sites, Lake Baikal gained international legal status that helps solve the problem of conservation of the unique phenomenon of nature at a higher level. It meets not only the interest of the citizens of Russia, but also the whole world community.

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