JRL NEWSWATCH: “At Asia’s heart, Lake Baikal stirs Russians to protect nature” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir

Lake Baikal and Environs Satellite Photo

“… [Lake Baikal] is the only natural feature in Russia … [with] its own law … which bans many types of industry, including mining, and chemical-based farming in a buffer zone around the lake that includes most of Buryatia. … that makes Baikal a double-edged sword for the economically stagnant republic. The region’s beauty and largely untapped resources give it a high potential for job growth – tourism is frequently mentioned. But legal protections, remoteness, and ecological fragility are all major obstacles. … [there is a] political struggle between those who want to exploit its resources and beauty for economic gain and those who seek to preserve it[s] … pristine condition. Set in a rift valley at the very heart of Asia, the lake’s forested mountainsides plunge precipitously into crystal-clear waters and long stretches of lonely rocky shoreline. It is also the engine of a unique ecosystem … [with] scores of plant and animal species … found nowhere else. … its surface area is comparable to … Lake Erie[;] its average depth of almost half-a-mile … containing a staggering 22 percent of all the Earth’s unfrozen freshwater supplies. … Putin interceded … to reroute a controversial oil pipeline away from Baikal after local ecologists mounted a furious campaign ….”

Click here for: “At Asia’s heart, Lake Baikal stirs Russians to protect nature; Environmental protections are often reactive, coming only after pristine areas have succumbed to pollution and degradation. But on Siberia’s Lake Baikal, care for nature has always been a way of life. Fifth in a five-part series.” – Christian Science Monitor/Fred Weir