We investigate the private entrepreneurship of the population living in Irkutsk oblast’s administrative districts adjacent to the shores of Baikal. Three categories of sectors have been identified, which would be appropriate for further development on this territory, including in the settlements of the central ecological zone: nondestructive kinds of nature management, handling of waste, and reproduction of natural resources. The Ol’khоnskii district holds the lead in the level of business activities owing to agriculture, and to the rendering touristic services, with a minimal contribution from industrial production. The ecologically oriented kinds of activity of private entrepreneurship are dominated by consumption types of nature management, such as tourism, fisheries and gathering; however, products are not processed, and the only fish processing plant was shut down. Private businesses do almost not participate in activities related to restoration of the natural environment, including waste disposal. Private entrepreneurship has reached the highest level of development in the key settlements for tourism in the central ecological zone: Listvyanka, Sakhyurta, Baikal’sk, and Slyudyanka. Small settlements sustain their living conditions mainly through agriculture. State-level regulation of the economic activities of the central ecological zone is currently dominated by a prohibitive approach, which narrows the possibilities of raising the living standards of the local population. There is a need to promote the development of the sectors engaged in reproduction of the natural wealth, including forest-growing and fish breeding, with the involvement of the local population, which can be achieved through the management system for specially protected areas. Part of activity on waste gathering and disposal can also be transferred by state bodies to the private sector for outsourcing. For the central ecological zone it is necessary to have a separate program of development based on the principles of a “green” economy.Keywords: entrepreneurship, ecologically oriented activity, central ecological zone, nondestructive nature management, handling of waste, reproduction of natural resources.