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Perspectives on the Development of Comfortable and Healthy Environment on the Gulf of Finland Coast Were Discussed at the Round Table in Lomonosov

Round table ”Perspectives on sustainable development of Gulf of Finland region – view from the Southern coast” by Friends of the Baltic NGO was held on October 20th in Lomonosov. The round table attracted local NGOs and authorities, experts, architects and teachers from St.Petersburg and Leningrad region. The round table was held in the framework of Lomonosov environmental festival and “Meetings on Dvortsoviy” program with the support of Lomonosov municipality. An exhibition and publications about decreasing of phosphorous load to the Baltic Sea, created by "Friends of the Baltic" with the support of Coalition Clean Baltic was presented to the participants.

This year main topic for the discussion was current status and ways of sustainable development of the coastline, creation and preserving comfortable and healthy environment for local population as well as methods and ways of cooperation and interaction of stakeholders.

According to Olga Senova, council chair of Friends of the Baltic NGO, there is a certain disbalance between industrial and port areas and nature protected areas on our coast. Overall impact of industrial projects is so high that soon it will be impossible for the nature to deal with this load. Economical development is essential, but it needs to come in pair with conservation of natural areas and buffer zones in order to mitigate anthropogenic load.

The necessity of giving back recreactional function to the Gulf of Finland coast was also mentioned. For instance, the coastline in Martyshkino was clean and beautiful in the second half of last century. And now the eutrophication increased there, untreated wastewater discharges leak into the Gulf, water quality has decreased. However there is a potential for restoration of these areas as recreational zones of local population and increasing their living condition even today.

The problem of cutting and selling the land plots in the nature protected areas is very acute in Lebyazhie. In 2007 Lebyaziy nature reserve was cut down from its west side up to Batareynaya bay. According to the lay, the nature reserve areas cannot be diminished, so instead of land plots taken away, the nature reserve got sea territories of the relevant area, However this replacement is not equal, since the coastline that was taken away from the reserve is a nesting place for rare bird species, which obviously cannot nest on the sea territories. Besides, in the result of this changes, Lebyazhii village with 7500 inhabitants has got only one narrow access to the sea.

In order to protects own land and nature an initiative group from Lebyazhiy decided to create the local municipal nature reserve upon their own initiative. Almost all dwellers of the coastal area of Lebyazhiy became active participants and contributed as well with funding: the cost of biological and ecological research of natural value of this area and its potential for creation of nature reserve performed by scientists of Biological Research Institute of St.Petersburg state university was paid by locals. It took more than 1,5 years to fulfill all formalities for getting the status of municipal nature protected area for the small piece of land of 20 hectares. But in the end, the nature reserve “Bianki’s meadow” was created and became the first example of the small local nature protected areas, created upon the local initiative with the support of local inhabitants and municipal authorities. Three more small nature reserves based on the same principle were created recently. According to Alexander Senotrusov, leader of the local initiative group, during this several years struggle for protecting own piece of nature, local population became more confident in their civil rights and their ability to protect their rights and interests in the struggle with authorities and business.

The presentation of Alexander Uralov, head of ”Aura” architect bureau, was also focused on the support of local initiatives and promoting the dialog with authorities, including legislative authority. He emphasized the importance of expression the position of local population upon forming and development of the coastal areas, in particular – the Southern coast of the Gulf of Finland.

At present we are facing the challenging situation on the coastline, when interests of large industrial and transport business are coming in the confrontation with the interests of local population, wishing to have comfortable living and recreation environment and to protect historical and natural values and traditions of their land. According to Alexander Uralov, the majority of the deputies of the Legislative Assembly of St.Petersburg would like to support the development of the areas upon the initiatives of the local population as well.

Thus it might seem an effective and beneficial decision to support and promote the development of the alternative business sectors on the coastline, oriented towards recreation, tourism and sport. Adoption of the law on protection of the coastline would be a big step towards ecologically and economically beneficial development of the Gulf of Finland coast. Mr.Uralov has also stressed the importance of complex approach to the planning of coastal areas. The interests of ecologists alone or athletes alone cannot be supported. It is necessary to create a complex position of the local population on the development of the coastal area in order to make it comfortable, healthy and sustainable environment for living, working, studying, training for the local population and for the guests from St.Petersburg and other regions.

As the example of creation of ”Bianki’s meadow” nature reserve in Lebyazhiy showed, the active public initiatives can successfully compete with business and corrupted authority representatives while protecting their civil rights and their living environment.

The perspectives on the water tourism development, leisure and sport boats on the Southern coast of the Gulf of Finland were also widely discussed at the round table. There are old sailing traditions in this area. “Oranienbaum yachtsmen society” was formed already in 1893 and became the second oldest yachtsmen society in St.Petersburg after the Imperial yacht-club (now Central yacht-club, former River Yacht-club)

Nowadays sailing sport is getting its popularity again, especially among kids and youth. The development of sport and recreational sailing on the Southern coast of the Gulf of Finland has big potential. In the same time, both yachtsmen and local population are highly interested in keeping the coastline clean and tidy, creation comfortable facilities – marines, beaches, places for rest and catering. Thus this field of activity has benefits both for environment and for business and landscape development.

One of the good examples of successful public initiative in Lomonosov is “Oranienbaum Marine Festival”. It was held in 2011 for the first time, in the year of 300th Anniversary of Lomonosov-Oranienbaum and got support from Lomonosov municipality and status of town festival. In 2012 the festival gathered together the local population and visitors of Oranienbaum for the second time. The festival can be a wonderful space for meeting and dialog of the local authorities, inhabitants of the coastline, NGOs, developers and other business structures, interested in sustainable development of the Gulf of Finland coastline. The sailing regatta “Orange race” is held during the festival. Friends of the Baltic NGO and Lomonosov centre for children’s creativity “Craftsmen city” took part in the festival for the second time, presented the exhibition “Living Baltic Sea” and told the visitors about programs of environment education and events for kids. Thus, according to the President of the festival, Eugeny Zakharov, “Thanks to the festival, slogan Oranienbaum – a recreational zone became popular”

Participants of the round table have worked out several proposals, such as popularization and spreading the experience of creation the local municipal nature protected areas upon local initiatives, setting up a wide public discussion of the alternative way of development of the Southern coast of the Gulf of Finland (transferring coastline from the port zone to the recreational zone according to the General Plan), setting up a dialog between NGOs, legislative and executive authorities, developers and other business structures with the aim to create comfortable and sustainable living environment in the coastal areas that will contribute to the social and economical development of the territories and to protection of the natural and cultural heritage on the Southern coast of the Gulf of Finland.

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