The resource-rich eastern third of the Russian Federation sits strategically among some of the worlds largest economies, including the US, China, and Japan. Instability in the Middle East has sent energy behemoths ExxonMobil, Shell, and British Petroleum scrambling to secure and develop the world-class oil and gas concessions off the coast of Sakhalin Island. Billionaire oligarch Roman Abramovich has settled in as governor of poverty-stricken but mineral-rich Chukotka, spearheading the effort to attract investment and to increase trade with nearby Alaska. China sees the region as a long-term supplier of the natural resources it needs to continue its blistering economic growth.
Why does this concern ecologists and conservationists?
Ecologists meanwhile see the Russian Far East as a global conservation priority, crucial for northern hemisphere biological diversity and for mitigating climate change. Financial constraints limited Soviet development to a patchy network of isolated industrial pockets leaving vast areas of wilderness intact. Ranging from Arctic tundra to dense forests, this wilderness supports a unique mixture of subtropical and northern plant and animal species, including the endangered Siberian Tiger. But timber supply shortages in Asia have created new pressures on these forests. And extensive oil and gas activities may compromise fishery resources in the rich Sea of Okhotsk.
Now availablea fascinating, fact-filled sourcebook on the area.
Blending conservation needs with changing economic interests is the challenge facing the Russian Far East in the post-Soviet era. But where can one find information on this vital but little known region?
The result of six years of research and encyclopedic in breadth and detail, The Russian Far East: A Reference Guide for Conservation and Development is the most comprehensive English-language reference text on the Russian Far East to be published in more than ten years. Unlike other books on Russia written by one or a handful of western experts, it provides an unparalleled local perspective, drawing on the contributions of Russians living and working in the far-flung area. A wide audience, including those working in media, business, academia, and government and nongovernmental agencies, will find The Russian Far East an indispensable resource.
Readers of the book will learn:
Where the regions strategic resources (oil and gas, gold, diamonds, platinum, and timber) are located.
Which regions ecologists have identified as biological diversity hotspots.
Where foreign investment is headed and which corporations are involved.
Why combating the melting of permafrost is crucial for the global climate.
Why environmentalists are frustrated with the oil operations of ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell on Sakhalin Island.
Where and why the Russian government is backing a plan to build a floating nuclear power plant.
Why the Russian government has so far been unable to curb corruption in the timber and fisheries sectors.
Josh Newell has worked for and with Friends of the Earth since 1991, both in Japan and Russia. He received his Masters Degree in geography in 2002 from the University of Washington. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
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