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ECO-TOURISM has not won many supporters in Russia. Prominent Russian scientists have severely criticised government plans to encourage commercialisation of state-owned nature reserves, says a report in Nature. Among the proposed measures are admission charges for visitors and permission for hunting for a fee.
Vadim Tihomirov, chairperson of the reserves committee of the Russian Academy of Sciences, fears that excessive commercialisation of reserves could "lead to their death." Already precious and semi-precious stones from the Il'men mineral reserve in the Urals are being sold and a large tract of land in the Caucasian biosphere reserve has been leased for 25 years to a private firm manufacturing plastic shoes, he adds.