Look Inside Russia's Wildest Nature Reserves—Now Turning 100
Russia is celebrating the centennial of its system of nature protection—including reserves so strict that few people have ever visited them.
Russia’s tumultuous history includes one legacy little known outside its borders—a vast system of protected lands that conservationists have fought for decades to study and protect. Some are so remote and guarded that few of Russia’s own citizens have ever stepped foot in them.
2017 will mark their 100th anniversary—as well as that of the October revolution that ended the reign of the tsars and created the Soviet Union. To commemorate the anniversary, Russian president Vladimir Putin has officially decreed 2017 to be the "Year of Ecology and Protected Areas.”
In January 1917 (technically December 1916, the Soviets later adopted a different calendar), Tsar Nicholas II officially set aside land near Siberia’s Lake Baikal for the Russian Empire’s first zapovednik, or "strict