MOVING ENVIRONMENTAL CONFERENCE
(YOUTH BIKE ACTION)
OF RESIDENTS OF THE FINNISH GULF REGION
This is the name of the bicycle action that took place on 19-27 July, 2003, along the coastal areas of the Gulf of Finland from Ust-Luga to Sestroretsk. The goals of the moving Conference were: to attract attention of residents to environmental problems, to develop the network of local environmental activists and ecogroups, and to promote bicycle as environmentally friendly transport.
Map of the MOVING ENVIRONMENTAL CONFERENCE
OF RESIDENTS OF THE FINNISH GULF REGION
An important task of the moving Conference was public monitoring of the state of coastal areas and banks of rivers and lakes, to call people to save them, to inform citizens about their rights for access to environmental information and for public participation in decision-making.
This traditional bike action was organized by NGOs Children of the Baltic, Centre for Environmental Initiatives and TEIA with support by Domovenok youth ecoclub. Young and adult environmental activists went by bikes over 350 km along the Gulf coast, drainage areas of rivers Luga, Sista, Karasta, Strelka, and Sestra. Along the entire route, the Conference participants visited nature and historical values and "hot spots" of the region, presented books and brochures on environmental education, information and other materials published by the action organizers to schools, libraries, local activists and other inhabitants.
The Moving Conference participants visited the Kurgalsky nature reserve, surveyed banks of the Luga river and coasts of the Luga Bay, met inhabitants of Ust-Luga and Krakolye, teachers of the Krakolye school, visited the coal terminal at the Ust-Luga port, and the old fishermen's port in village Ruchyi.
At the Koporye school, the action participants gave a lecture and practical session to local schoolchildren, showed the film "Baltic Children" about youth ecogroups at the South shore of the Gulf of Finland, who take small rivers and other nature objects under their monitoring and protection, told about the work of Children of the Baltic, Domovenok youth ecoclub, and Centre for Environmental Initiatives. Environmental training games received special appreciation from the children.
In the Globitsy village, the Conference participants met the leader of the local environmental group. Under her guidance the activists visited the Petrovitskiy glacier boulder, the famous place of interest in the Koporye volost. This boulder received the statute of a protected object due to activities of the local group.
In the Lopukhinka village the action participants watched the well-known radon lake. When visiting the Gostilitskiy botanic nature reserve, the action participants noticed that here, and in all other nature reserves surveyed during this and the previous actions as well, there are no posters about the reserve, its statute and mode of behaviour in it, neither at the entrances to the reserve nor inside it.
On 23 June, within the Moving Environmental Conference, the action-meeting took place on the bank of the Kipenskoye lake. It was devoted to observation of environmental rights of citizens during creation and development of the recreational area on the bank. The action was organized by Domovenok ecoclub and NGOs Children of the Baltic and Centre for Environmental Initiatives. The speakers at the meeting were environmental activists, local residents from the neighbouring garden cooperative and from the nearest village, the Mayor of the Kipen and Ropsha volost, and the businessman involved in creation of the recreation area. They discussed both positive steps in creation of the recreation area and problems connected with increased traffic. The meeting participants decided to create the initiative group for public monitoring of the recreational area and for cooperation with the business and local authorities.
In Ropsha, the action participants visited the Federal Selection-Genetic Centre of Pisciculture and met there the leading scientist of the Centre. At the Russko-Vyssotskaya school, the Conference participants met with the teacher of geography that works for the school since its foundation, for 32 years. She collects information about the nature and history of the village and its environments.
The main event of the Moving Environmental Conference was the action in Lomonosov town. The action slogans were "The coast for residents, protection for the nature" and "YES to nature reserve, NO to industrial area". The action purpose was public support to creation of the nature reserve "Kronshtadt Colony Coast". This is the alternative to the plans to convert this 11 km of the coast to industrial zone.
The action was organised by Children of the Baltic and Centre for Environmental Initiatives. At the action, its participants handed out the leaflet with description of the project of the reserve, alternative plans, information about legal ways of public participation in decision-making, and called Lomonosov residents to public hearings on the reserve that will be held on 4 September. The action participants also handed out other environmental brochures and information materials published by the action organisers. The project of the reserve was created by the Direction of Specially Protected Nature Areas of St.Petersburg. The Lomonosov residents will lose their access to the coast completely, if the alternative plan - creation of the industrial zone here - will be fulfilled.
The action was very successful. The majority of Lomonosov residents supported the idea of the reserve. The Chairman of the Lomonosov Municipal Council and one of its Deputies who came to the meeting also supported the project of the reserve.
After the action the participants of the Moving Environmental Conference went to the Krasny pond - the only one place to bathe in Lomonosov. They found the bank of the pond full of garbage, and decided to organize an improvised action - to clean up the bank. In a few minutes the action participants collected over 300 litres of garbage and moved it to garbage containers. Unfortunately, many other heaps of garbage were left on the bank - to move them, trucks are necessary.
In Kronshtadt, the Moving Environmental Conference participants met with the director of school No. 424, with the teacher of environment working at the House of Youth Creativity, and with the local activist that works for many years on protection of environmental and historical values of Kronshtadt.
On their way to the North coast of the Gulf of Finland, the action participants watched the dam and finished their route on the Gulf coast in Sestroretsk.
At all the visited schools, the Moving Environmental Conference participants organised round tables for exchange of experience in the sphere of environmental education, study and protection of nature and historic objects of the region. The round table participants also discussed cooperation in preparation of the next publication of the book "Our Habitat Values", and involvement of youth in environmental projects.
The region of the action is full with unique nature and historical objects. This is an enormous resource for tourism, including bicycle tourism, and for the business that does not bring harm to the nature. Joint actions of authorities, business and the public are necessary to use this resource successfully.
Meetings and actions during the Moving Environmental Conference showed that many local residents want to take and active part in environmental protection, in conservation of local nature values, in local decision-making. They need information and methodical help. The environmental NGOs - the Conference organisers - can and will render them such help.
Additional Information about the Moving Environmental Conference: