The Azov Ecosystem: Resources and Threats

Conference paper
Part of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Series C: Environmental Security book series (NAPSC)


The current unsustainable pattern of water resource use in the Azov Sea basin undermines regional environmental security. The damming of rivers followed by active utilization of aquatic ecosystem services has decreased freshwater influx to the sea by one third and there is a growing trend of irrevocable water abstraction. The water has been redistributed through the region causing changes in ecosystem resources and services consumption, greatly contributing to and at the same time threatening the regional economy and environmental security. As a result of irreversible changes the Azov Sea ecosystem is not capable of supporting many essential ecosystem services. Though the basin is a strategic area playing an important role in national and international development plans, it has been excluded from most regional environmental discussions. The already serious existing threats to both humans and ecosystems will be amplified by implementation of regional development plans (e.g. construction of new Azov Caspian shipping canal “Eurasia” and increase in transport intensity). Environmental and economic hardships could trigger political instability in the area inhabited by the reviving paramilitary Cossack communities. In this context, there is a need for integrated interdisciplinary analysis of the basin’s environmental security. The paper aims at reviewing existing ecosystem services provided by the Azov ecosystem, historical paths in their utilization and corresponding challenges as a first step towards an integrated assessment of regional environmental security.


Azov Don River Kuban River Environmental security Watershed Cossacks Ecosystem services 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Central European UniversityBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Azov Center for Watershed CooperationNovocherkasskRussia

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