Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a draft resolution to expand the Russian Arctic National Park in the Arkhangelsk Region to incorporate islands of the Franz Josef Land Archipelago and over 5.8 million hectares of sea. The total expansion is by 7.4 million hectares, bringing the total protected area within the National Park to 8.8 million hectares.
The announcement came ahead of the IUCN World Conservation Congress, and on the same day that US President, Barack Obama, designated a huge expansion of a marine reserve around the Hawaiian islands. The move demonstrates the value of the Arctic, and how its protection is a priority for governments around the world.
The protected area "will contribute to the integrated conservation of the pristine islands and marine ecosystems of the northeastern part of the Barents Sea, [including] glacial and periglacial landscapes of the polar deserts and ecosystems of offshore shallow water and sea ice, [home to endemic] Arctic fauna", according to a statement issued by the Russian government.