Russian citizens can now claim one free hectare of land in its Arctic zone as the government seeks to expand its development of the fast-warming region, the Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper reported Tuesday.
The Arctic Hectare program will extend to Russians nationwide from Tuesday after a six-month period in which only residents of the Arctic were eligible.
Citizens can apply through an official portal for a plot of land in the Murmansk region, the Nenets autonomous district, the Yamal-Nenets autonomous district, the republic of Karelia, the republic of Komi or the Arkhangelsk region.
The largest number of available plots can be found in the Murmansk region (more than 700,000 hectares) and the republic of Karelia (337,000 hectares).
Initially, land plots are issued for a five-year period. Afterwards, citizens can choose to rent, sell or give away the land if they no longer wish to own it.
Land plots are also available to participants in the state program for repatriating ethnic Russians living abroad.
Russia has offered citizens a free hectare of land in its sparsely populated Far East regions since 2017.
The Far East and Arctic Hectare programs' online portal boasts of success stories including an eco-glamping resort in Chukotka, a strawberry plantation in the Khabarovsk region and an Arctic poultry farm.
The Arctic Hectare program comes as Russia races to take advantage of the region’s economic and strategic potential as it warms at a record pace.
Moscow has been heavily investing in the development of the Northern Sea Route, which it touts as a cheaper, faster alternative to the Suez Canal for shipping between Europe and Asia.
But scientists say that Russia is losing growing amounts of Arctic coast due to climate change, and the region is heating more than twice as fast as the planet as a whole — risking a feedback loop of accelerated warming.