“In fact, the position of Switzerland was equaled only by the Russian and Soviet parks, called Zapovedniki, … promoting the preservation of “pristine nature”, … the goal was primarily to enable scientific study of areas free of civilisation influencesZapovedniki and the Swiss National Park were conceptually very similar. … the term “Zapovednik” was not translated… Even today, Zapovednik is described most often as one of the strictly protected nature reserves devoted to science.”

“Creating Wilderness, a Transnational History of the Swiss National Park”, Patrick Kupper.

“Just as Nature knows no political boundaries, safeguarding it is also not limited to the confines of States”.

“Each nation that achieves conservation within its own borders also does so at the global level”.

Paul Sarasin, founder of the Swiss National Park, 1914.

The history of the precursors of these strictly protected nature areas starts in the XIII century (Bialowieza forest). The first zapovidniki were created in the 1870s on private land, at the initiative of progressively minded private landowners. From the start these areas benefited from an absolutely strict conservation regime. The spreading of overhunting and fashion for bird feathers, leading to the virtual collapse of wild animals and birds populations, prompted the setting of the special Royal commission on nature protection, and the first State zapovednik was created in 1916: the Barguzinsky state nature reserve saved the taiga forest of the Eastern Baikal region and the pearl of this taiga - the Barguzin sable. Further a system of about 100 such strict nature reserves was developed in the country occupying a sixth part of the world , the number and territories (usually quite large) covered varied over time.

Zapovidnik: A specially protected nature area (land or water), where any human intervention is completely excluded, in particular any type of economic activity, including visits by people, except for strictly controlled scientific research that does not affect protected natural objects and does not disturb or upset the free course of natural processes, in order to preserve the intact natural complexes (standards of nature); implies the introduction of a certain reserve regime and an institution created for protection and study.

Reserve regime: Procedure for the functioning of protected nature areas. Distinction is made between absolutely reserved (complete exclusion of any human activity) and relatively reserved (when, for example, in order to imitate the grazing by animals, periodic haymaking is introduced; or animals are fed in winter; or upbringing of young trees) modes.

Zapovednost: strict nature protection based on passive nature protection mode.

F.R. Shtilmark, founder of the theory of absolute nature protection (obviousness of zapovednost) and of many strict and inviolable nature reserves, 1931-2005.

“We have to repeat the simple definition of scientific preservation as a complete (absolute) cessation of direct human impact on natural areas in order to monitor the long-term natural processes taking place here. If this can cause serious negative effects for wildlife (for example, the threat of extinction of rare species), this means that the conservation in this area is unreasonable, some interventions are needed (mowing, grazing, fencing, etc.). A real nature reserve is not at all intended to delight the eyes of naturalists and nature lovers - long-term processes of change of formations, and the death of individual components of biocenoses, and even their degradation can occur in it - one must have patience and courage to record these processes, given that nature has its own measure of time, it is incommensurable with ours, with the duration of a human life.”

“Genuine (that is, absolute) conservation was fought not only by prohibitions or official State “directives”..., not only by opposing nature conservation to “park management”, “popular tourism”, “planned recreation”, etc. ., but in more sophisticated ways. Among them are the principle of “enriching nature” (a poorly disguised version of its conquest!), as well as “reasonable regulation”, and “management of biocenoses”, and “ecotourism”. But behind all this pseudoscience there is just elementary human greed and the desire to change the world around us to please our growing needs. Meanwhile, the whole theory of absolute nature protection is based on the principle of “move away and do not touch”, and this fundamentally contradicts the laws of modern technogenic civilisation, including the devoted to it science”.

"... the true roots of environmental protection lie in the deepest layers of public morality, in its religious and moral foundations".

The classic of the national nature reserves’ management, G.A. Kozhevnikov (1866-1933):

“Protecting primitive wilderness for its own sake ... is the main idea of ​​nature protection ... Rejection of this absolute truth in favor of narrow economic interests ... is a complete collapse of the idea of ​​nature protection. Any economy, in its essence, fundamentally contradicts the idea of ​​nature conservation. Human economy always leads to disfigurement of nature. Only non-interference in the life of nature makes the life of nature scientifically interesting. If we abandon this position, we will never achieve the protection of nature in the genuine meaning of the term.”

In 1910, at the Congress of Russian Naturalists, Professor G.F. Morozov, one of the founders of Russian forestry, also put forward the idea of creating reserves. "The allocation of protected areas should be as planned as possible with the position of the basis of the botanical and geographical subdivision: protected areas should be located in each botanical and geographical area, representing in their totality a number of the most characteristic and most scientifically valuable types of vegetation."

Classic original principles:

I. Complete non-interference into natural processes.

II. Absolute inviolability of protected areas, subject to criminal legal protection.

  1. III.Long-term (monitoring) observations; research stations are established for detailed long-term observation of the natural course of nature’s processes; each zapovidnik conducted “chronicles of nature”, where all data was registered daily according to a special detailed methodology.

  2. IV.Standardisation and representativeness (typification); conformity with standards of nature, as the outmost principle of scientific preservation of "virgin" standards of nature, served as models (standards) of landscape-geographical zones (or their subdivisions).

  3. V.Complete prohibition of economic activities.

  4. VI.Indefinite operation, can be opened but cannot be closed.

  5. VII. Exclusive land use right, the inviolability of natural objects can be ensured only by exclusive right to land use by means of seizure of the territory.

  6. VIII. Management aimed at absolute protection and wild nature freedom.

  7. IX. Protecting wild nature for its own sake.

  8. X.Responsibility of the State for legal and other settings, offences are subject to criminal law (for example, the sentence for illegal logging can be up to 7 years).


  1. Value wilderness for its own sake.

  2. The management shall be aimed at achieving absolute conservation (principle of G. Kozhevnikov — F. Shtilmark).

  3. Honor the wildlife (principle of A. Schweitzer).

  4. Do not seek to obtain economic benefits.

  5. It is the only place where the natural (moral) rights of wild nature, its species and individuals are protected

  as far as possible.

  1. Scientific and and environmental education methods shall ethically controlled (principle of S. Schwartz).

  2. Do not hurt.

  3. They do not serve people, but wildlife.

The original meaning of the term is associated with the concept of the strictest prohibition, sacred space, complete inviolability.

Principles of zapovednost’s type management:

  1. 1.The idea of absolute preservation is an ideal to strive for in the daily activities of any nature reserve.

  2. 2.The indirect human influence (global pollution, climate change, accidental introduction of foreign species, acid rain, etc.) should not be considered as a violation.

  3. 3.The protection extends not only to natural, unaltered areas of wilderness, but also to protected areas that have been subjected to anthropogenic impact, where the protection (zapovednost) can be considered as a restorative act, reanimation of the natural system.

  4. 4. Limiting, to the possible minimum, the impact on the course of natural processes and phenomena as a result of scientific research and actions of the managing institution.

  5. 5.The main goal is to preserve ecosystems and spontaneous (natural) processes occurring there. At the same time, in certain cases, it is necessary to solve issues of preserving the current state of some ecosystems by imitating or maintaining the regime of nature management.

  6. 6.The declaration of a site as a zapovednik means the complete legal immunity of this territory from any human intervention (presumption of absolute reserve).

  7. 7.The zapovednost (protection) is advisable in natural areas of any size; the territories of the State reserves are usually sufficient to ensure self-regulation of the ongoing natural processes.

The goal of the concept of this type of conservation is the fullest possible embodiment of the idea of absolute nature protection, aimed at the free (spontaneous) development of wild nature with the exclusion of any intentional human impact (freedom of wildlife), as well as the study of ecosystems in conditions of their inviolability, with the goal of using this research fo the sake of Nature.

The socio-economic changes of 1990s and later led to the destruction of the State measures of nature protection and of the system of protected areas. It translated into separation of nature reserves into categories, proliferation of national parks, drastic reduction in forest guards and foresters, application of managerial and biotechnical measures in protected areas, their partial economic use including for recreation, scientific research that violates strict protection, use of reserves as places for introduction experiments and game breeding, lack of funds to feed animals in winter, poaching, massive logging without permission or reforestation, constant breaches of nature protection laws of all types and kinds, etc. The initial principle "what we have is what we protect", was replaced by the appeal "what we protect is what we consume". It seriously undermined the application of the original principles to the remaining zapoviniki and the whole system of the nature protected areas. Remembering and restoring them could be the way forward globally.

tiger footprint