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An Ecological Approach to Siberian River Conservation and Sustainable Development .
Klubnikin, Kheryn1, Wildcat, Dan2, Golubtsov, Alexander3, Malkov, Nikolai4, Loukianenko, Victor4, Sedelnikov, Vyacheslav5, Cherkasova, Maria6, 1 2 3 4 5 6
ABSTRACT- The Katun River is wholly contained in the Altai-Sayan mountain headwaters of western Siberia, in the independent indigenous peoples' Altai Republic. The Altai-Sayan headwaters give rise to some of the world's largest rivers that contain a large percentage of the world's freshwater. One of the most pristine rivers in Russia and one that is sacred to the native people, the Katun is under constant pressure for the development of large dams. In addition, the Chinese have recently proposed the first road into the Altai from Xian Xiang provice, which borders the Republic. It would also be one of first official roads ever between Russia and China. The transboundary resource pressures could be tremendous since China is undergoing major population resettlement into Xian Xiang. A unique biogeographic province with fauna such as snow leopard and fishes that show unusual evolutionary patterns, the Altai region also has high plant diversity and endemism. It is also an unusually rich area of cultural history and archaeological record. The cultural and natural attributes of the area have been honored by UNESCO in the establishment of a World Heritage Site. The Altai people share a view of the environment that is similar to that of Native Americans and are adamant about maintaining environmental quality and achieving sustainable development that is culturally appropriate. Native American scientists are working with other American scientists, Native Altai and Russian scientists, and indigenous professors and students to learn more about the region's aquatic resources, grazing impacts,and conservation and environmental quality challenge. Culturally appropriate ways to conserve and manage aquatic resources for sustainable development and minimal environmental impact are being developed.
KEY WORDS: mountain headwaters, ecosystem management, indigenous ecological knowledge, sustainable development