Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug

Physical geography and climate
Population, economic development and infrastructure
Indigenous land use and dependence on the environment
Environmental threats
Map (1997)
Article collection

Environmental threats

The condition and availability of reindeer pasture lands is of critical importance for the Nenets and Khanty in the entire okrug. The severest threats towards the reindeer breeding culture are the land destruction through the oil and gas development that started in the mid-1960s in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, mainly around Surgut and Samotlor, but which also affected the southern part of the Yamalo-Nenets Aut. Okrug. The exploitation of the Yamal Peninsula was carried out quickly, though experts have not agreed on its profitability. Both areas have already suffered immense loss of land and water resources.

Further loss of pasture lands through oil production and infrastructure development is the most critical threat. From experiences made in the devastated Ob Basin and Yamal areas one can expect a similar damage and overgrazing of the remaining pastures, although there is hope that modern environmental understanding combined with international participation and western investment in production and transportation technology may reduce the potential damage.

Further pollution of remaining reindeer pastures and freshwater is expected to become a severe problem in the expanding oil production areas in the nearest future.

Transportation lines may cut off migration routes for domestic reindeers (railways, pipelines, river traffic in the winter).

Reindeer theft along with other abuse the of indigenous population by oil workers has been experienced extensively during the development of the Middle Ob area, where it caused an immense damage over time.

The condition of productive rivers and lakes is critical for securing the fishing interests and rebuilding a sustainable combination subsistence. Major pollution in the Middle Ob area has destroyed most fishing waters there.

Gathering of berries, herbs and mushrooms has gained a renewed subsidiary significance due to the difficult economic situation of the rural population and demands the protection of natural environments around residence areas.

Only a minor part of the Khants in southern parts of the okrug have retained some land and water where traditional economic branches can be pursued. The cultural survival of the Khants is not only a question of avoiding all further impacts, but of restoring high-quality subsistence areas.