A polar bear is seen at the water's edge on Rudolph Island, part of the Franz Josef Land archipelago.
- The Power of Parks
World’s Northernmost Islands Added to Russian National Park
The major park expansion protects unique habitat for many important Arctic species, from walruses to polar bears.
Coming on the same day that President Barack Obama designated a massive expansion of a marine reserve in the Hawaiian Islands, the Russian government has expanded the Russian Arctic (Russkaya Arktika) National Park to include Franz Josef Land, the world's northernmost chain of islands.
Made up of more than 190 islands, Franz Josef Land is a mostly uninhabited area that is encased in sea ice for much of the year. Yet the rocky, glaciated islands are home to stunning biodiversity. The newly expanded park will protect habitat for such species as the Atlantic walrus, bowhead whale, polar bear, narwhal, and white gull.
Russia's park expansion was signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev Friday and increases the size of the protected