Information as Legitimacy Broker in Zoning Efforts in the Numto Natural Park in the Russian Arctic: Planning for Sustainability Versus Vested Interests

A.O. Pristupa, M. Tysyachnyouk

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Creation of protected areas in the Arctic has been an important element of protection of valuable ecological systems. It is particularly important when nature conservation priorities match the efforts for preservation of indigenous people lifestyles. Combination of both is problematic when industrial activities, such as oil extraction, arrive to such areas. This paper presents the case of the Numto natural park in the oil-rich Russian Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug situated in the subarctic climate. The park was created in the late 1990s to preserve the unique region with high ecological, historical and ethnographic value, as well as to protect the habitat and reindeer herding activities of indigenous Nenets peoples. Shortly after the creation of the park different claims were put on various use of nature area. Original zoning of the park has been challenged by the ongoing operations of the oil company, Surgutneftegas, that has undertaken attempts to rezone the park areas in order to accommodate expanding oil actives. The most recent zoning attempt endorsed by the oil company in 2014-2015 has involved researchers from different Russian regions that introduced “wise use” principle pioneered by the Ramsar Convention. Next to valuation and mapping of ecologically valuable areas by natural scientists, social scientists were involved for charting socio-economic and cultural properties of the lands used by the indigenous population. The case employs informational governance framework to analyse how and to what extent zoning, as an informational tool, accommodates different priorities and claims. Through the literature analysis, interviews with the stakeholders and surveys, this study concludes that zoning is used to legitimize practices driven by the vested interests. It does not necessarily lead to more sustainability, but rather serves as an additional leverage for powerful actors to exercise authority over other engaged stakeholders. However, inclusion of wide variety of parties and application of the best internationally accepted standards and practices can counterbalance the dominant players vis-à-vis less-powerful actors on the way to finding the middle ground.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventArctic Frontiers - Tromso, Norway
Duration: 24 Jan 201629 Jan 2016


ConferenceArctic Frontiers


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