A total of 21 national parks will appear in Russia in the next ten years, the country's prime minister, Vladimir Putin, said on Friday.
Speaking at a government meeting dedicated to the development of Russia's preserved natural territories, Putin said 11 national parks would be significantly enlarged.
Putin also said additional funds should be allocated to increase the qualification and salaries of natural park employees, as well as provide them with modern technical equipment.
"Natural reserves in the Far North, in remote Siberian and the Far Eastern areas are specially suffering from a lack of highly qualified experts. One of the main reasons for this is the low level of salaries," he said.
Putin also called for the development of ecological tourism in Russia, which would provide the country with money that would then be used to improve national parks.
"We should create normal legal conditions for the development of recreation tourism in the territory of national parks... allowing to rent land, construct buildings and facilities necessary for hosting and serving tourists," Putin said, adding that such construction should be carried out "in line with the strictest ecological standards and under appropriate control."
The head of government also urged the introduction of effective systems to prevent wildfires in national parks and reserves.
An unprecedented heat wave hit European Russia this summer, sparking wildfires and severe droughts in many regions. More than 50 people died in the fires, which destroyed over 2,000 homes and hundreds of thousands of hectares of forests.
In September, Putin said the country would allocate 7.5 billion rubles ($242.5 million) in 2011 to rehabilitate forests and prevent wildfires.
MOSCOW, October 29 (RIA Novosti)