Russia identifies main environmental risks

Dec. 26, 2012 at 7:45 PM
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MOSCOW, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Wildfires and parliamentary lobbyists are among threats Russia's environment will face in the coming year, ecologists and government officials said Wednesday.

The gloomy outlook on wildfires is a major example of the problems facing environmental protection efforts in the country, Alexei Yaroshenko of Greenpeace Russia said.

Greenpeace and the Russian Academy of Sciences estimate 27 million acres were lost to fires in 2012, the worst statistic in nine years, RIA Novosti reported.

There is a 30 percent to 40 percent chance the country will see more rampaging wildfires in 2013, Yaroshenko said.

"Maybe we'll get lucky," he said.

Part of the problem, environmentalists said, is a rollback in environmental legislation in recent years that led to the loss of professional forestry experts, severely hampering the capacity for prevention.

Meanwhile, efforts to reverse that rollback are facing a powerful anti-environmental, business-centered lobby, they said.

Even Rinat Gizatulin, deputy minister in the Natural Resources and Ecology Ministry, acknowledged a failure to pass wide-ranging environmental legislation would create one of the main threats faced by Russia's environment in 2013.

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