Russia's natural resources extend far beyond petroleum products, minerals, and lumber. One of its greatest assests are the large expanses of nature - ranging from remote mountain wildernesses to swampy bogs to small dying villages.
Igor Shpilenok is a nature photographer and wildlife preservationist who lives in the Bryansk region. Igor founded the Bryansky Les Zapovednik and acted as its director for 11 years. He and his wife, Laura Williams, work as a writer-photographer team, bringing attention to rural life in Russia and to promote protected wildlife areas within Russia. Their focus is on "Russia’s system of protected areas, consisting of 100 zapovedniks (strict nature reserves) and 35 national parks".
You might also know Igor and Laura's work from Russian Life magazine, where they have had several articles (and photographs) about their life in the village of Chukhrai and travels in Kamchatka. Laura has written articles for other magazines and journals as well regarding Russia's natural resources (excerpt from E magazine article Russia's Global Treasure below):
When most Americans think of Russian nature, they think of environmental catastrophe--Chernobyl, oil spills, pollution. Yet Russia, with one-eighth of the Earth's land area, has one of the world's premiere systems of strictly protected areas, called "zapovedniks." Few people outside Russia know of the system or its important part in sustaining the global ecological balance. Large tracts of virgin forest play a role in global ecology comparable to rain forests. Intact areas of wilderness allow large-scale animal migrations. Scientific data long collected in the zapovednik system could shed light on global climate change and ecological trends.