Our Philosophy on Habitat Conservation and Protected Areas

From the onset, the establishment of protected areas has been a main emphasis of our foundation. Shortly before the German reunification, Michael Succow, then the last assistant Minister of the Environment of the GDR, succeeded in securing large tracts of East Germany as protected areas and preserve them as a “showcase of the new union.”

We have kept this approach – to use windows of opportunity, with the goal to decisively preserve habitats and landscapes. In the recent past, more and more countries have opened themselves to the idea of nature conservation. This has resulted in the establishment of new national parks and biosphere reserves. 

Globally, our main emphasis is the preservation of core habitats. In Germany this means preservation of nationally important beech forests; in the former Eastern bloc countries the characteristic core habitats include the cold-winter deserts and semi-deserts of Turkmenistan, the lime forests of the Rominter Heath (Romincka Forest), the mud volcanoes of Azerbaijan, and the extensive peatlands of Belarus, Ukraine and European Russia.

In this respect biosphere reserves offer a great opportunity to actively involve humans in nature, rather than excluding them – with the ultimate goal of preserving nature by means of an adapted, sustainable use regime. Nature conservation and healthy regional economic growth, which is especially needed in the Eastern European countries, do not have to be mutually exclusive.

Thanks to the long-standing efforts of Michael Succow to establish protected areas, especially in the transformation countries of Eurasia (Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, the Caucasus republics, and Mongolia), there has been some initial success in this regard. A number of new national parks could be established, including eight parks in Azerbaijan alone, developed in close co-operation with the Michael Succow Foundation. Moreover, our founder has contributed to the establishment of the Issyk Kul Biosphere Reserve in Kyrgyzstan, as well as the recognition of World Heritage Sites in Russia and Kazakhstan.