The Arctic Council member states discussed initial work to implement priorities of the newly adopted 2021-2030 Strategic Plan held at the level of senior officials.

According to the press service of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the council’s first executive meeting under the Russian Chairmanship was held in a hybrid format at the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) to the President of Russia in Moscow on June 29-30.

“During the two-day event, the Senior Arctic Officials and Permanent Participant Heads of Delegation focused on the steps to be taken to implement the Reykjavik Declaration, which was adopted by the ministers of the eight Arctic states during the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in May 2021, as well as initial work to implement the priorities of the newly adopted Strategic Plan,” the press release says.

The next meeting of the Senior Officials and a plenary session of the Arctic Council will be held in Salekhard in November 2021.

Scientists will sum up the results of a permafrost seed storage experiment that was launched in Yakutia in the 1970s. Specialists from the Vavilov Federal Research Center All-Russian Institute of Plant Genetic Resources were responsible for conducting the study.

Developed in the 1970s, the relevant technology makes it possible to maintain subzero underground temperatures all year round and to effectively preserve the seeds. An initial check shows that biomaterials, stored for 40 years underground, boast 95 percent germination rates.

“Scientists from the Vavilov Federal Research Center All-Russian Institute of Plant Genetic Resources will visit Yakutia and will analyze the results of an experiment that has lasted over 40 years. A project to assess the possibility of using layers of permafrost to store seeds under from the collection of the Vavilov Institute was launched by this center, the Melnikov Permafrost Institute and the Safonov Yakutia Scientific Research Institute of Agriculture of the Soviet Academy of Sciences’ Siberian Branch in the 1970s,” the press service of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Government said.

Today, over 11,000 seed samples of agricultural and wild plants are stored in Yakutia at a depth of 11 meters. As the depository maintains natural subzero permafrost temperatures, this makes it possible to minimize electricity expenses and to spend just 4,000 rubles for this purpose annually.

Earlier, President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Sergeyev suggested that the Arctic Council should establish an international cryogenic seed storage facility in Yakutia because the existing Svalbard Global Seed Vault on West Spitsbergen Island where all countries store samples of plant seeds is beginning to disintegrate because of the melting permafrost.

President of Russian Federation Vladimir Putin has signed a law extending "The Far Eastern Hectare" program to the territory of the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation, the corresponding document is published on the official Internet portal of legal information.

"The Far Eastern Hectare" program, which allows citizens of the Russian Federation to choose, register and get a land plot in the Far East for free, was launched in 2016. During its operation, more than 90 thousand people received land plots.

As the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Mikhail Mishustin explained earlier, the borders of the territory in the Arctic will be expanded, within which it will be possible to get a preferential hectare. Citizens will be able to take land plots under a simplified procedure and in a shorter time. At the same time, special attention will be paid to preserving the traditions and culture of indigenous, small-numbered peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East, the head of the Cabinet of Ministers noted.

In addition, the law allows for the possibility for a citizen who has successfully mastered and acquired ownership or lease of "the Far Eastern hectare" previously provided to him, in addition to it, to receive a land plot with an area of up to one hectare. Such measures will make it possible to more actively involve unused lands in economic turnover both in the Far Eastern Federal District and in the Arctic zone, Mishustin believes. And most importantly, in his opinion, these hectares will give people an incentive to start their own business, build housing for their family, increase their income, make life more comfortable.

The creation of a single brand for the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation will increase the tourist attractiveness of the territory on the international market. This opinion was expressed by the head of sales for the Russian domestic market of Coral Travel Larisa Kiseleva.

"One of the national brands offered on international markets, in my opinion, should be the Russian Arctic," she said at the first Russian travel forum "Travel!".

In her opinion, the most promising regions of the Russian Arctic for promotion are the Murmansk Region, Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug and the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug. A single brand, as Kiselyova noted, will increase the attractiveness of the Arctic for tourists, as well as affect the economic development of all the constituent entities of the Russian Arctic.

First of all, the Arctic brand can be used to promote cultural and educational routes, says Maya Lomidze, Executive Director of the Association of Tour Operators  and co-chair of the expert Council on the implementation of the program for the promotion of tourist routes in the field of domestic and inbound tourism at the Federal Agency for Tourism.

On June 10, the first stage of the "Master of the Arctic" expedition ended in Moscow, at Domodedovo Airport. The team of participants spent 26 days in the expedition.

In total, the specialists completed about eight routes, each for an average of 5-6 hours, in search of polar bears and marine mammals.

"Exactly how many of them [animals] will be known after processing all the flight materials, and this is about 100 thousand photos and the same number of images from the thermal imager. Bears, seals and walruses are definitely there! But the musk oxen were seen only with their eyes, they were not reflected in the photos, maybe because they are not marine mammals, but land ones," scientists suggest.

In addition to monitoring polar bears, experts also held several meetings with residents of Tiksi, showed a film on the results of last year's expedition and conducted environmental and space lessons in two schools.

In particular, Dmitry Glazov, the head of the scientific group, introduced schoolchildren to the peculiarities of the life of marine mammals, and hero of Russia, test pilot and cosmonaut Valery Tokarev - to the secrets of space.

On the same day, June 10, in Arkhangelsk, three expeditions at once go to the Mikhail Somov NPP to the Franz Josef Land archipelago, where they will continue searching for polar bears with the help of a helicopter.

"There are 5-6 days to go by sea to Novaya Zemlya and further to the archipelago of Franz Josef Land Islands, where the team will have to find polar bears with the help of a helicopter, put on satellite collars and take biological samples. It is curious that it is possible to fasten the collar only on a female polar bear - the neck of a huge predator is not suitable for such "ornaments", it is too voluminous," the organizers of the expedition say.

They also add that the satellite collar will help scientists trace the migration path of the red book predator, understand where it spends different seasons, where it sets up a den and forages for food. The analyses will complement the animal health map of the Arctic region. By the way, this time the bears will be checked for the presence of coronavirus.