Mikhail Yablokov

Nature Conservation Sociology

I am engaged in developing and conducting sociological research, training seminars and consultations.

I have been working in this direction since 2006, when I became Director of Polistovsky Reserve. My approach became truly scientific after taking courses in nature conservation sociology from NYU faculty member and leading Wildlife Conservation Society sociologist Heidi Kretser. In 2018 I had the good fortune to be a participant in the course, and in 2020 we led a program for employees of Russian protected areas in conservation sociology (“The Human Dimension in Conservation”).

Conducting a survey in the mountainous Tien Shan, Kyrgyzstan
Meeting with local people of Voknavoloka, Kalevalsky park
Training program for employees of Onega Pomorie National Park
Meeting with the activists of the village of Tsevlo, Polistovsky Reserve

One of the latest projects (2022) is sociological research in villages of the highlands of the Central Tien Shan Mountains (Kyrgyzstan), located near Sarychat-Ertash Nature Reserve and Khan Tengri Nature Park. The project’s main goal is the conservation of the snow leopard. In the study, it was necessary to identify conflicts between the local community and large predators, and outline the main ways to resolve them.
Sociological component of the environmental project (pdf-file of the report structure)

Training seminars and lectures for both students and employees of the Protected Areas network are a popular feature of conservation sociology.
Contents of the seminar “Modern Nature Conservation System in Russia” (pdf-file of the presentation structure)

On-the-ground work includes involvement of the local community in the activities of protected areas, most often in tourism. I used this approach extensively in Polistovsky Reserve, which in its initial stages led to a serious confrontation with the local population. However, it was ultimately possible not only to resolve the conflict, but also to build long-term partnerships with the local community and district administration. The involvement of residents in economic activities made it possible to lay the foundation for the development of tourism in the reserve and improve the life of the village.

History of partnerships between Polistovsky Reserve and the local community, 2016 (pdf-file of the presentation)