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In the recent years the development of the ecological research has entailed the creation and use of the maps as a means of the cognition. The authors use the broad definition of the notion of the "ecological map". The ecological maps can be grouped under seven bigger directions. 1) The natural ecological potential. The estimation of the natural conditions and resources. 2) The unfavorable an d perilous natural and anthropogenic natural processes and phenomena. 3) The use of the natural ecological potential of the territory and the anthropogenic influences. 4) The alteration of the state of components of the geographic environment in consequence of the anthropogenic influences. 5) The protection of the nature. 6) Complex ecological maps. 7) Control the ecological situation. The complex ecological maps concentrated in the division 7 rouse the keenest interest. In recent years the extension of the publishing opportunities beyond the system of the state cartographic enterprises has been furthering the emergence of original cartographic works created as refexion of complicated ecological situations and of the human living environment. Hence the maps with ecological subjec ts reflect the development of the society in the full measure.
In the recent years the development of the ecological research has entailed the creation and use of the maps as a means of the cognition and the graphic representation of both spatial and spatial temporal aspects of the interrelation of the nature and of the society and both the "ecologization" of the contents of the traditional subject maps and the elaboration of ecological maps with new content s have accompanied the process. Merely few ecological maps have been in existence by now as the term "ecological map" dates only from late eighties in publications in Russian. The authors use the broad definition of the notion of the "ecological map" which permits to envelop the various spectrum of the cartographic produce comprehended by foreign scientists as environmental maps. They can be compiled on the basis of variegated theoretical lines, ways of the analysis, views of the objects of the mapping.
The ecological maps can be grouped under seven bigger directions 1) the natural ecological potential. The estimation of the natural conditions and resources; 2) The unfavorable and perilous natural and anthropogenic natural processes and phenomena; 3) the use of the natural ecological potential of the territory and the anthropogenic influence: 4) The alteration of the state of the components of the geographic environment in consequence of the anthropogence influence: 5) The protection of the nature; 6) Complex ecological maps; 7) Control of the ecological situation. In their turn they divide into 24 subdivisions.
Diverse sides of the natural and ecological potential are elucidated in the following groups of maps: agroclimatic, engineering and geological, hydrogeological maps, maps of the vegetable and animal world. Within this group of the maps fundamental cartographic works representing the territory of the former USSR on the whole attract attention. They include the atlas of the peat resources of the USSR (1968), the soil map of the RSFSR of a scale of one to two million five hundred thousand (1967), the map of the vegetation of the USSR of a scale of one to four million (1990), the map of the forests of the USSR of a scale of one to two million five hundred thousand (1990). Original ecological and phytocenotic, agroecological maps, maps of the phytomass, agroclimatic maps of separate regio ns have appeared.
It is important for the society to know the state of the animal world and of its preservation. This direction of the mapping has got a new incentive in connection with the elaboration of the ecological problems. The zoogeographical maps reflect the proliferation of the complex of the animal population, the changes of the animal world called forth by the anthropogenic influence as well as measur es concerning the protection and recuperation of the animals. The group of estimating maps is significant, they conclude the first direction in the ecological mapping. These maps give evaluation of the natural conditions and resources for the human life and some kinds of the economic activities. Side by side with the fairly know map "Evaluation of the natural conditions for the life of the population of the USSR" of a scale of one to eight million (1982) similar maps can be found in the regional atlases of the Altai region, Northern Kazakhstan and so on.
The second direction of the ecological mapping unites the maps reflecting unfavorable and perilous natural and anthropogenic natural processes and phenomena. They may be climatic and hydrological, endogen, geological geomorphological, congelation and geocryological, biogeochemical, biological, medical geographical. The first maps are devoted to the climatic and weather phenomena drought, dust s torms, dry winds, mists, snow storms, freezing of the soil, the glazed frost and so on, while the hydrological ones depict the high flood, inundations, inordinate moistening of the soil, turbidity of the river water. The maps of the endogen occurrences (typological or dividing into districts) reflect the volcanism, earthquakes as well as tsunami. The avalanche maps privail among geological geom orphological ones. Erosion and landslide processes, salt marshes and mass sinkings are subject to the mapping too. The maps of the agricultural and animal pests, of the vermin of the forestry and recreational resources belong to the group of the maps of the biological phenomena. The concluding medical geographic chapter includes maps of the medical geographic evaluation of the maps of infectio ns and invasion diseases common both for the man and for the animals, maps of biogeochemical endemics, complex medical geographic maps.
In the third direction the maps are concentrated dedicated to the use of the natural ecological potential of territories and to the anthropogenic influence in the process of the use. The maps compiled by scientists have usually the following subjects: the use of the water resources, the use of the land, the arable lands, the land reclamation, the use of the biological resources, the recreation and health resort establishment.
The questions of the study of the alteration of the state of the components of the geographic environment owing to the anthropogenic influence and the reflexion of this alteration on the maps is of great keenness and importance at present. The maps make their appearance fixing the negative changes of the state of the components of the geographic environment under the influence of the human activ ities. Side by side with the traditional maps there are some original cartographic works illustrating the multiformity of the search in the show and in the representation of the state of the geographic environment. Among them a series of three works has to be mentioned (of a scale of one to one million five hundred thousand): maps of the alteration of the geological environment of the non cher nozem zone of the RSFSR in connection with the land reclamation and urban construction (1984), the hydrotechnical and urban construction (1983), the exploitation of mineral deposits (1984).
Some maps reflect the influence of the industry and agriculture on the state of the air and water. The first maps are exemplified by the "Pollution of the air basin" in the atlas of the agriculture of the Armenian SSR (1984), by the "Influence of the industrial settlements on the purity of the atmosphere air" in the atlas of the natural conditions and resources of the Ukranian SSR (1978), by the "Polution of the atmosphere" in the atlas "Protection of the nature and problems of the nature tenure of the Khabarovsk territory" (1990). The second maps may be exemplified by the "Pollution of the river water" in the atlas of the Lithuanian SSR (1981), "Violation of the sanitary state of rivers in the atlas of the natural conditions and resources of the Ukrainian SSR and so on. The alteratio n of the biotic components is reflected in the maps of the damage to the forests and of the changes of the animal world (maps in the atlas of the Donetsk region (1982), in the atlas of the Moldavian SSR (1990), in the atlas of the natural conditions and resources of the Ukranian SSR (1978). The series of the maps of a scale of one to five hundred thousand is worthy of note characterizing the radiation situation on the territory of the European part of the former USSR as a whole and in its separate regions Byelorussia, Kaluga, Kursk, Leningrad, Tula and other regions in particular.
The mapping connected with the protection of the nature is developing by leaps and bounds. Three directions stand out: protected objects of the nature and measures connected with the protection of the nature: nature reserves, wildlife sanctuaries, national parks; complex maps of the protection of the nature. Among them the map "Protection of the nature of the USSR" of a scale of one to four m illion has to be mentioned representing the territory of the country as a whole. Regional aspects of the protection of the nature are shown on the maps of the complex regional atlases or on specially published maps of a scale of one to seven hundred and fifty thousand and of one to ten million, for instance, the map of the protection of the nature of the Tambov region of a scale of one to four h undred thousand (1985).
The complex ecological maps rouse the keenest interest among the users. Similar maps are still few. Among them is the map of the acutest ecological situations of a scale of one to eight million (1989). It is the first complex ecological map. From regional maps let us mention the ecological map of the Moscow region of a scale of one to five hundred thousand (1993) compiled by the centre "Ecopr ognoz". The map shows the spreading of the forests, the land tenure, the boundaries of the zones of the sanitary protection of the drinking reservoirs, hydrological conditions of the water supplies in settlements. A special section of the legenda dwells upon the technogenic pollution of the atmosphere, of the surface water, of the ground deposits, of the soil cover, of the subterranean water. Places for dumping the industrial and domestic waste are marked out. The chart "Barents Sea: biological resources and anthropogenic influence" is of interest. It shows habitats of eight species of fishes and animals and spawing places of fishes. Bores, nuclear test sites, dangerous places, burying places of the military hardware from the second world war, burying places of unknown materials, naval bases burying places of submarines, explosion sites are plotted.
The contents of the "Map of the risk of investments" in the land tenure: the Moscow region of a scale of one to five hundred thousand are original, it is compiled by the Russian institute of the distance technologies and applied ecology (1992) and put out in the business card series. On the map the territory of the Moscow region is divided into lots with different degrees of the risk of investm ents in the land tenure. The appraisal is carried out according to four gradations with the indication of a set of negative factors conditioning the choice of this or that extent of the appraisal including the pollution of the air, soil, vegetation, the subterranean water as well as the ecodynamic processes, the quality of the soil and of the vegetation.
A few maps are devoted to the subject "Control of the ecological situation". They reflect the distribution of various stations and posts registering the parameters of the environment. In recent years the extension of the publishing opportunities beyond the system of the state cartographic enterprises has been furthering the emergence of original cartographic works about urgent issues of the human living environment. Thus the analysis of the subjects of the ecological maps conducted by the authors corroborates the social direction of their contents and their compliance with the ecological development of the country.