In recent years the problems of sustainable development of both the world community as a whole and the particular regions are widely discussed. The sustainable development is realizing as environmentally safe and economically efficient areas development aimed at provision of high quality of the environment, livelihood and health of population. It could be reached through ensuring the environmental balance of natural complexes, biodiversity conservation of natural ecosystems, and establishment of favourable conditions for life existence on earth. The most important role here is played by the specially protected areas (SPAs), therefore their development is getting the priority significance for all Russian regions.
Biosphere reserves are established to address one of the most important issues that the modern world has faced: how to reconcile the biological diversity and resources conservation with their sustainable use? It is necessary for the effectiveness of the biological reserve that scientists in the field of social and natural sciences, groups of specialists on natural protection and on development, administrative bodies and local communities work jointly to address this integrated issue.
The concept of biosphere reserve was developed in 1974 by the work group of the UNESCO MAB ("Man and Biosphere") Programme, while the establishment of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves was began in 1976.
The Baikalsky State Reserve was organized in 1969 in the central part of Khamar-Daban ridge. Since 17 years - on April 24, 1986 - it became the core area for establishment of the biosphere reservation "Baikalsky", which for the most part remains the specially protected area and the internally acknowledged term 'reservation' reflects this key circumstance namely.
The Baikalksy biosphere reservation is located at the territory of the Republic of Buryatia and includes land parts of three administrative districts: Kabansky, Selenginsky and Djidinsky. At the present the Baikalsky reserve is the core of the biosphere reservation. The protection zone with area of 34,788 ha was established round the reserve on December 3,1976, and it performs the functions of the buffer zone of the reservation. In addition on March 29, 1985, the federal zakaznik Kabansky located in the Selenga river delta with area of 12,000 ha and with the Ramsar wetlands status was re-assigned with the reserve.
Each biosphere reservation, and the Baikalsky is not the exception, includes three zones originally planned as the series of concentric circles: core (the Baikalsky reserve area itself), buffer zone (protection zone of the reserve with the territory of Kabansky zakazniks) and cooperation zone with area over 250 th. ha. Since December 1996 the Baikalsky biosphere reservation area became the part of the World Heritage site "Baikal lake" totally. The reservation area management is performed jointly by the Baikalksy reserve administration and administrations of the municipal entities located at the territory of cooperation zone.
Since the moment of the development of the first "Plan of Management and Development of the State Natural Biosphere Reserve 'Baikalksy' for 2001-2005" the reserve began to actively carry out work with local population at the adjacent area included into the transitional zone, in other words cooperation zone, of the biosphere reservation.
The reserve despite of the relatively small area - 165,724 th. ha, is significantly contributing to regional biodiversity conservation, preserving at the core area 880 species of inferior plants and fungi, 1,127 species of higher plants, 1,110 species of invertebrates and 318 species of vertebrates, some of which are recorded in the Red Books of Russian and Buryatia. In particular, there are 20 species of plants and fungi are growing here that are rare for Russia and 86 species rare for Buryatia. 22 species of animals rare for Russia inhabit the reserve area and 77 species rare for Buryatia. The optimum conditions are ensured for reproduction of economically valuable animal species: sable, brown bear, ungulates and commercial and game bird species. Annually the significant part of populations of sable, Manchurian deer, roe deer, musk deer, and brown bear is settled beyond the reserve area.
The monitoring studies under the "Natural Chronicle" programme are permanently performed, 6 scientific-research themes are under the development, which are aimed at the provision of scientifically grounded administrational decisions to support the reservation development stability. Along with own scientific studies the reserve has a partner dialogue with scientific research institutions and institutes of higher education, which carry out studies at the reservation territory and provide outcomes of their work to the reserve administration. In particular, the significant assistance was provided by the Siberian Institute of Physiology and Biochemistry of Plants of the Siberian Branch of RAS, Baikal Institute of Nature Use, and other institutes - Buryat Scientific Center of SB RAS, East-Siberian State Technological University, East-Siberian State Academy of Culture and Arts, state universities of Irkutsks and Ulan-Ude, as well as MSU etc. In the period the reserve exists 26 joint themes were implemented and significant results were obtained from scientific studies and monitoring, which are now used for both the general administration and directly in the current reservation's work: to improve the natural complex protection, to plan environmental educational activities, to ground the perspective action plan of the reserve. For example, materials of the surveys on theme "Sate of ramson population in Baikalsky reserve" allow optimization of use and protection of this resource in the reserve. Also the outcomes are used by the regional and municipal authorities to make administrational decisions. For instance, recommendations on corrections of terms and amounts of commercial take of sables in the region are provided to the Department of the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) for the Republic of Buryatia under the theme "Monitoring of sable population in the Southern Near-Baikal region". Also, the recommendation on terms for collection of berries and fruits, cedar nuts, terms and amounts for catch of game animal and bird species in the buffer zone, recommendations on take of commercial fish species in the zakaznik are in demand.
Annually the reserve submits to the Department of Rosselkhoznadzor for the Republic of Buryatia the most reliable and representative data on accounting of animals number (accountings of number in waterfowls and musk-rat, upland fowl, bear and others), which are used by the Rosselkhoznadzor services.
The remarkable input of biosphere reservation "Baikalsky" is also noticed in obtaining and dissemination of popular science information. The reserve personnel are actively participating in the development of reference literature, guidebooks, and articles. Scientific branch provides recommendations to the state expertise of the Buryatia hunting rules in identification of amounts of catch of animal species referred to as the game objects at the territory of Buryatia.
The reservation is one of the main centers of environmental/ecological education in the region, and it widely practices the work with local population, where two directions had formed - promotion to increase of local population income and environmental/ecological enlightenment and education.
The tangible output of this activity - is the improvement of the reserve's image as the environmental protection organization. Due to the committed efforts aimed at the cooperation development and wide informing on the activity the number of reserve's advocates is growing. Year by year the number of visitors (as average for 15% annually) is increasing, respectively the income resulting from their visiting is increasing too.
The activity of the reservation served as the basis for strengthening of partnerships with targeted groups of local community. In 2006 within the TACIS "Development of Program of sustainable livelihood of population within the boundaries of the Baikalksy reserve cooperation area" the municipal entities Vydrinsloye, Tankhoiskoye and Kluevskoye had merged in the persons of heads of administrations, local citizens, small-scale business representatives, municipal authorities of Kabansky district, non-profit organizations and the reserve. As the result the coordination council was established and the decision on establishment of micro-loaning fund within the cooperation zone was made. The funds were allocated by the business representatives and the district budget. Over 100 th. rubles were provided as the credits for support of small-scale business and construction of guest houses.
In 2007 following the initiative of the small business representatives the "South of Baikal" association was established to jointly address issues on tourism development. Based on the general discussion the "Programme of tourism development in the Baikalsky biosphere reservation for 2006-2008" was adopted, and the "Programme of tourism development of the Kabansky district for 2007-2010" was adopted at the district level with the budget of 8.0 mln. rubles. At the present time the tourism development programme in the biosphere reservation for 2010-2014 is under the development.
The organization of "advice with people" through carrying out the social polls of citizens of both the reservation area and the adjacent to it areas is among the important methods that allow attract public attention to this problem and take into account views of various strata of society under the preparation of the development programs of the region and the reservation.
In 10 years after holding of the last social poll at the territory of Baikalsky biosphere reservation the department of environmental education of the reserve and regional public organization "Baikal Innovation Center", organized under the boarding school No. 21 of the Tanhoy town, has developed a new form of the questionnaire included there questions on such painfull topics as tourism development, attitude to the reserve, domestic waste disposal. There are also further plans - to poll the maximum number of people from various strata in order to obtain more precise outcomes of questioning. And this is to be the first poll where scholars will be interviewers. Based on the responses it is planned to make the map of local values, which undoubtedly will be interesting to both citizens and hosts of the town.
The important part of local community income growth is construction of the guest houses. Aimed at the rural tourism development the work on educating the citizens to how welcome the tourists is underway, the booklets "Guest Houses" and guidebook "The gates of Trans-Baikal" on Kabansky district were published. The similar work is underway on restoration of folklore and folk arts. The register of masters of souvenir products is updated regularly, on the agreement basis the souvenirs are provided for selling.
The reservation encourages the initiatives of local citizens in their work with tourists in the form of food staff selling, agreements conclusion on rent and lease vehicles, their attraction to excursion activity as guides. The focus of the work on local population employment development is put on the activities that do not harm natural ecosystems.
The seasonable tours for various population groups are developed aimed at environmental education. The most perspective one is eco-tour "The Bird's Paradise" on the territory of the Kabansky zakaznik in the Selenga river delta.
The environmental programs and actions are carried out according to the plans of department of environmental education of the reserve in cooperation with NPOs, museums, institutes and schools. The new direction of this activity is propaganda of environmental protection traditions of the Buryatia peoples. Close to the central office the Eco-ethno-city was built, which incorporates the Buryat wooden jurt, Evenk bark tent and Russian izba. The cooperation with folklore groups, centers of Russian, Evenk and Buryat culture is entered. It's already a tradition to hold ethno-parties when children are told of way of life and traditions of Buryatia peoples with presentations and national cuisines.
Since 2002 there's a success of the work with volunteers of the interregional public organization "Big Baikal Trail", who not only establish pathways, but carry out studies with children. The part of the trail they constructed and restored - is the beautiful route along the Osinovka-Tankhoyskaya river. One more organization that provides volunteers assistance - is eco-center "Zapovedniki", the volunteers of which in 2 tears made the watery mockup of Baikal of 14 m length that has the core of the exposition "Reserved Necklace of Baikal".
The reserve directory also had managed to enter the dialogue with business and receive a substantial assistance from them: in addressing social issues, for instance, arrangement of sport ground (via "Angasolsky Breakstone Plant"); support of material technical base under the construction and capital renovation (East-Siberian Branch of "Russian Railways"); tourism infrastructure development ("Baikalsky PPP", "Selenginsky PPP"); tourism product marketing and promotion («Firn Travel»); training of the reserve officers and local citizens in work with tourists ("'Sokolinaya Gora' Mountain Ski Complex of Baikalsk city"); holding of training workshop on interaction with business (TNK-BP and BP); micro-loaning ("Novy DOM" Ltd.); natural complexes protection ("Lash Rasha) etc. We also find response from the business in holding of environmentally educational work.
Thanks to the WWF financial support the project "Establishment of resource educational methodic center of the Baikal region SPA Association" was implemented on the basis of the Baikalsky reserve. The formation of methodic base and e-library is now underway. The center is not three years yet, but two training seminars already took place: the trainers were prepared, and the model education of SPA inspectors was carried out. It is further planned to hold the workshop on environmental education and enlightenment for officers of environmental education departments, where the pedagogues from the regional schools will be either invited to. Upon arrival of optical-fiber wires and bandwidth Internet it's became possible to have web-conferences.
In total for 40 years of existence of the reserve something 30 projects were granted for the total sum of US$ 320 th., the majority of which was spent on the implementation of the basic requirements of the Seville Strategy for Biosphere Reserves - conservation of the Baikal region natural complexes and promotion to sustainable economic and social development of the region.
Hereby, the biosphere reserves could play a new part. They will be not a mean allowing population living in these areas or close to them to develop in balance with natural environment, but will also advantage meeting the needs of society in general, showing the way towards the more sustainable future. This approach is in the very heart of visualization of the future for biosphere reserves in the 21st century.