The Decree of the RF President "On the concept of the Russian Federation
transition to sustainable development" (1996) designed as an advancement of the programmes adopted at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, 1992) is a basic document in the sphere of environmental protection in Russia. The Concept first introduced the notion of the ecosystem capacity and demand for the assessment of the economic capacity of local and regional ecosystems in order to define permissible human load on them.
Particularly noteworthy among the numerous legal and normative documents are the following RF Laws:
"On environmental protection", dated 19.12.91 (with additions of 1992 and 1993).
The aim of the Law is to regulate relationships between the society and the nature to conserve natural values and human natural environment, prevent harmful effects of economic and other activities on the environment. The objects to be protected as declared by the Law are natural ecosystems, land, mineral resources, surface and ground waters, atmosphere, forests, animal world, genetic pool and natural landscapes. It is here that the notion of payment for nature use which includes payment for natural resources (use rights, penalties for unsustainable use, payment for the regeneration and protection of natural resources, for environmental pollution, and other impacts) appears in the Russian legislation for the first time.
In accordance with the Forest Code, Water Code and Law "on Mineral Resources" the payment is distributed as follows: 40% go to the federal budget, 60% - to the budget of the federation subject where either special target lines are included in the budget input and output components or special funds for the conservation and regeneration of natural resources are established. No less than 50% of the incoming money must be used for the purposes of natural resource conservation and regeneration.
The Law "On environmental protection" described here is a framework document, i.e. it does not specify the payment size and transfer mechanisms. The Law just declared the obligation to pay for nature use. It became the basis for the development of legislation for specific kinds of natural resources.
A shortcoming of the Law is that it does not demarcate the hierarchical levels managing state-owned natural resources.
"On the animal world", dated 22.03.95.
This Federal law regulates relationships in the sphere of the animal world protection and use, as well as in the sphere of its habitat conservation and restoration in order to maintain biological diversity and generate pre-requisites for sustainable living of the animal world, and preservation of the wildlife genetic pool.
"On protected areas", dated 15.02.95.
The Law defines the statuses and categories of protected areas, as well as protection regimes. It is designed to conserve both unique and typical natural complexes and objects.
"Water Code of the Russian Federation", dated 18.10.95.
Water-related legislation is of particular interest when considering integrated ecologo-economic management of coastal areas. It states that the commonly accepted principles and norms of the international law and international agreements in the sphere of water use and protection signed by the Russian Federation are an integral part of the legal system of the Russian Federation (Article 4). The Code introduces the notions of a water-protection zone and protective belt (Article 111). A frame of the economic activity regimes in these zones is given. The major principles of economic control of the use, restoration and protection of water objects are listed. The obligation to pay for the use of water resources is legally stated. In Article 34 of the Water Code of the Russian Federation water objects are defined as state property.
Law "On Environmental Expert Review"
This is one of the few direct-action laws. Until today ecological relationships in our country have been regulated mainly so as to fight the negative consequences of both economic activities, and natural disasters, of which many (e.g., floods) could have easily been avoided by erecting the necessary facilities. The adoption of this Law has created actual legal pre-requisites for moving from the liquidation of adverse environmental effects of economic activities to their prevention at the early stages of economic decision-making.
Some of the Decrees of the RF Government related to the problem in question are the following:
No. 1404 dated 23.11.96 "On the adoption of the Guidelines on water protection zones of water objects and their protective belts" (a specification of the RF Water Code), which sets the basic principles for defining the size of the water protection areas and establishing the regime of economic activities in them.
The size of water protection zones and protective belts for such water bodies as Lake Ladoga are determined by special calculations. The recommendations of the Decree No. 1404 concerning the size of the water protection zones for lakes (with respect to the water surface area) are not applicable in this case. Specific figures for Ladoga are given in Section 2.2.2. "Water protection zones and protective belts of Lake Ladoga".
No. 716 dated 16.06.97 "On the adoption of the Guidelines on state control over the use and protection of water objects".
This Decree commissions, i.a. special authorities responsible for the use and protection of water resources, to ensure compliance with the order of establishing the boundaries of protective belts and water protection zones in the Russian Federation and the regime of their use.
No. 818 dated 22.07.98 "On the adoption of the minimum and maximum fees for the use of water objects in river basins, lakes, seas and economic regions" (a specification of the RF Water Code).
For the implementation of the Decree the RF Tax Service prepared Instructions on the procedure of levying and paying fees for the use of water objects.