The Fall/Winter issue of Sanctuary, the journal of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, carries an article praising the Soviet Union for its nature reserves:
for Americans thoroughly schooled in anticommunism, the zapovednik system would seem merely typical of the autocratic deeply repressive regime. In fact, however, the concept of creating vast, undisturbed, strictly protected reserves arose toward the end of the czarist era. It was based on concepts of biological conservation that were ahead of their time; and, from the perspective of a 21st-century world still struggling to strike a workable balance between protecting the natural world and meeting the needs and desires of a still-increasing and ever-more-prosperous human population, it deserves a measure of understanding and respect....
Perhaps the most surprising chapter in zapovednik history chronicles the critical involvement of V.I. Lenin in the broad implementation of the system. By all accounts Lenin had a strong commitment to conserving Russia's natural heritage, and in 1921 he signed sweeping legislation officially establishing the zapovednik system. The same comprehensive environmental legislation created a system of national parks, hunting reserves, and natural monuments with varying degrees of protection and providing recreational access to complement the exclusivity of the zapovedniki. The park system even foresaw the rapid expansion of cities in the rush to modernization and established urban parks and greenways, many of which are maintained to this day. Of course, it cannot be overemphasized that protection at the stroke of a pen of tens of thousands of square miles of tundra, forest, and steppe was greatly facilitated by the nationalization of private property following the Bolshevik "taking" of all time....while one can with justification condemn the manner of their creation, the zapovedniki have become not simply monitoring sites for the benefit of Russian agriculture but the greatest collection of undisturbed natural landscapes on earth—where the worst of humanity's matricidal urges must be checked at the gate.
It's nice to see Mass. Audubon condemning the nationalization of private property, but the article nonetheless made me cringe. Think I'm overreacting?