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At the XV International Forum "Baltic Sea Days" Friends of the Baltic NGO have presented educational Program of the Gulf of Finland Year 2014, and Coalition Clean Baltic proposals on reducing nutrient load to the water bodies

Author: Senova olga
St. Petersburg Vodokanal and Friends of the Baltic NGO in cooperation with SYKE Environmental Institute of Helsinki have organized the Round table “Environmental education to the Gulf of Finland Year” within the Baltic Sea Day Forum. In the focus of the roundtable were methods of education addressed to solve urgent problems of the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland.

Special attention at the roundtable was given to the methods of education that motivate residents to reduce impact to the Baltic Sea by their personal choice. For example, the program "River Watch" integrates research activities of school children concerning natural waters and coastal areas, analysis of problems, solution offers and personal actions to reduce the pollution of rivers, seas and coasts.

That day the process of preparing the Youth Declaration to the Gulf of Finland Year started. It will continue in April on Earth Days in St. Petersburg and during the International Youth Summer Camp-Seminar in Finland (http://youth2gof2014.wordpress.com).

On the roundtable named "Creating conditions for the transition to environmentally-friendly agricultural practices and protection of water bodies from nutrient load from rural areas" Olga Senova, the Friends of the Baltic NGO chairperson, has presented the Coalition Clean Baltic (CCB) proposals on necessary actions for reducing nitrogen and phosphorus pressure to natural water bodies from agriculture and residential sector.

Wastewater treatment in the settlements of Baltic catchment area is one of the priorities of the HELCOMBaltic Sea Action Plan(BSAP). For the Russian part of the Baltic Sea, this topic is extremely relevant. A huge number of towns and villages have no waste water treatment plants at all. Their domestic wastewater is discharging directly into natural water bodies. Wastewater treatment for cottages and gardening associations issue has not been even discussed yet at the state level - although it is not a small problem. In St. Petersburg and Leningrad region there are more than 200 such associations, more than 1 million people are living thereduring 3-4 monthsin a year. Their wastewater coming from the toilets bring around 1,000 tons of nitrogen and 250 thousand tons of phosphorus per yearto the Baltic Sea basin.

Many Baltic countries have already approved small-scale biological wastewater treatment systems for the small villages with natural filters, solutions for individual homes, including separate collection of urine and feces. CCB suggests to review all available technologies of wastewater treatment for every situation, and choose the most economically and environmentally efficient. Also CCB offers to present the pilot installation of existing wastewater treatment technologies in each country, at least one of each solution installation by 2015.

To reduce the income of nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers to the Baltic Sea catchment area, Coalition Clean Baltic proposes to standardize and limit the nitrogen-phosphorus balance in the soil, consult farmers and other stakeholders on environmentally friendly methods of farming and waste disposal.

Principles and successful examples of organic agriculture were presentedat the Roundtable by the Russian and Finish experts. Research program on organic food chain from Finnish Organic Research Institute shows the importance of complex environmental approach in ensuring the food chain - from production, distribution, and to organic waste disposal.In this project, special attention is paid not only to the importance of legislative support for organic production, but also to the consumer awareness.

The representative of the Research Center for Agriculture and Food in Finland showed examples of the organic milk production in the eastern Finland. These farms use biological nitrogen fixation, all manure is used in the system as fertilizers, as well as special plants for siderates. Important principle is the integration of livestock and agriculture (80 % of the territory - feed, 20% - growing product). Such a farm model enables 5-year crop rotation, full utilization of animal waste, provides more efficientnutrient cycleand reduces 10% of nitrogen removal.

Example from Leningrad region – Losevo farm (4500 hectares), which already produces 30 types of organic products. There are 1500of elite cows on this farm (900 of them – milk producing, they give 17 tons of milk per day). Feedis grown with the use of organic fertilizers, they have own dairy factory and pay special attention to the product packing.

St. Petersburg Ecological Union representative told about the approaches and examples of agricultural products environmental certification. 164 countries and 1.9 million farmers in the world are leading the organic farming. Ecolabel "Leaf of Life" is awarded to the products that are certified throughout the whole it’s life cycle, taking into account organic standards similar to the European one. Unfortunately, in Russia there is no legislation on organic agriculture, but there are several versions of the bills. 13 farms have been certified by the Russian system of EU-organic, and one by the «Leaf of Life».

Luga river issue was mentioned in several presentations. According to Professor Aladin N. and experts from the Zoological Institute, Institute of Limnology and Novgorod laboratory of lake and river management, Luga and its inflows Saba and Yashera experience a great nutrient load. Despite this, the biological diversity of these rivers isstill relatively high - and this condition should be valued and preserved. It is necessary to conduct explanatory work among the local farmers and agro- industrial complex employees in Luga basin region. This can be referred to other areas of the Leningrad region. It was proposed to develop a series of seminars for all involved actors on the basis of three research and teaching institutions:
• Geo Station "Iron"of the Russian State University for the Humanities
• Training coastal base at the University of Water Communications
• Leningrad Regional Institute of Education Development

School environmental studies (of Tomachevskayaschool) within the project "Lugabalt" at 8 points along the river, from the Zhelets village to Zhivoy Ruchey settlement, identified a number of problems: unauthorized drains, sewer breakthrough, human disturbance in the coastal zone. 2013 showed excess number of indicators compared to the previous two years of observations. Bioindication methods showed the pollution from minor (Zheltsy) to medium, and in some points to severe contamination.

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