U.S. Forest Service specialists to share their experience in Russia

From July 30th to August 7th, two specialists from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) will travel in the Republic of Khakassia to share expertise on interpretive planning, visitor center exhibits, and attracting visitors to recreational sites. The specialists will participate in site visits, where our partners are actively working to develop ecotourism opportunities for Russian and international tourists. Additionally, the specialists will conduct a two-day workshop about interpretative communication and recreational planning for NGO volunteers and other partners.

For over a decade, the U.S. Forest Service has been collaborating with a variety of partners in the Lake Baikal region of Russia to address the tension between protecting the unique biodiversity of the area and the impacts from increasing numbers of tourists who visit the Lake to enjoy its unusual landscapes and recreational opportunities. In addition to trail building and maintenance skills, a major focus of the USFS’s work in the region focuses on supporting the development of a cadre of professional nature interpreters and guides at Lake Baikal, who aim to educate and inspire tourists and locals about how to protect the fragile ecosystems around the lake. Working at the grassroots and local levels, our partners at Baikal support consensus-building processes and dialogues that incorporate the views of all stakeholders, including the managers of the Federal Protected Areas, local citizens, recreational enthusiasts, environmental advocates, scientists, and tourism industry interests.

By providing technical assistance and specialized trainings, U. S. Forest Service International Programs help build the capacity of civil society organizations to engage in environmental policy analysis, advocacy, community coalition-building, volunteer and membership engagement, and organizational governance. By highlighting success stories and lessons learned from our own land management experience on the National Forests of the USA, we provide our international partners with viable examples of citizen participation in policy and decision-making processes, successful public-private partnerships, multi-stakeholder collaboration, and meaningful participation by marginalized and vulnerable groups and populations, such as women, youth, and indigenous groups.