19th August 2016 Friends of the Baltic public organization held the Round Table on the environmental education and practical schoolchildren activities for nature conservation and saving water ecosystems in the Luga river basin. Participants were non-governmental organizations activists and teachers from Luga and Kingisepp districts of Leningrad region, from St. Petersburg, so as experts form state educational organizations. The meeting was aimed to involving youth environmental groups from Luga, Kingisepp and Lomonosov districts to the River Watch Network.
The meeting was opened with Friends of the Baltic presentation on the almost 20 years’ experience of public involvement in the nature protection and promotion of the environmentally friendly solutions. Olga Senova, the Friends of the Baltic leader, presented the River Watch Program by Coalition Clean Baltic, and demonstrated the River Watch manual for public environmental monitoring of water bodies. The manual offers research methods, as well as helps to find ways to change the situation, in cooperation with all stakeholders.
Round Table participants exchanged information on the opportunities to involve youngsters to competitions and actions aimed to water protection. Elena Tutynina, President of the "North-Western environmental education support center", member of the Public Ecological Council under the Governor of Leningrad region), presented an International and Russian National Junior Water Competition. According to the Olga Senova comments this competition along with the researches of environmental state of water bodies especially appreciate the practical component about the solutions to improve environmental situation.
Victoria Gromova, environmental methodologist of Primorsky district House for Children Creativity of St. Petersburg, shared the results of schoolchildren investigations of the Luga river and lakes within the Cheremenetskij nature reserve. Bio indication method showed a good status of water quality in the Luga river and lakes of its catchment area. Big diversity of fish species live in Cheremenetskoje lake; and even trout lives in Vrevo lake.
Tamara Chernova, the environmental methodologist of Kingisepp House of creativity, said that the situation in the lower course of the river looks much worse due to the influence of objects located upstream of Kingisepp (farms, settlements, other pollution sources). The situation in the Luga river low stram is alarming: no living organisms were detected by bio-indication method at all. It could be a result of dredging in the Luga bay within the port construction. The acute problem this year is a raising of Luga river level and the flooding of coastal areas, which led to a washout of the pollution by household and agriculture.
According to the opinion of Nadezhda Bystrova, the head of the Environmental Information Center, methodist of Peterhof Youth center, the situation on the South shore of the Gulf of Finland changes every year. Filamentous blue-green algae during last years were marked firstly at the Krasnaya Gorka Fort in Lomonosov district not earlier then the end of July, but there is a "soup" of algae at the beginning of June 2016. Amount of Algae bloom in Koporskaya Bay is also constantly increased. Shellfish disappeared on the banks: 5-6 species determined easily beforehand, now it’s possible to find common mussels Unio and Anodonta, and river snail. And at the same time there is lot of zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) – the invasive species. Sandy beaches disappeared in many places of the South shore of the Gulf of Finland, including the beach beside the Peipia stream. The stream water became muddy, where the valuable perl clam (Margaritifera margaritifera) lives, whose life cycle is associated with Baltic salmon. The erosion of the shores became a big problem of the Gulf of Finland in general.
The head of the Keep St. Petersburg Tidy NGO, the Eco-Schools/Green Flag Russian program coordinator Olga Madison presented the experience of promotion of environmental solutions through the school activities. The program of Eco-advisers for schools, developed by Friends of the Baltic, also helps to increase the role of school activists, teachers, and young people in reducing the negative impact of school, family, and every person to the environment and water bodies.
Nadezhda Bol’shakova, the representative of the Leningrad Regional Institute of Education’s Development, expressed an interest in organizing trainings for Leningrad oblast’ teachers on the river environmental investigations and schoolchildren involvement to nature protection activities.
The main meeting result was planning trainings for teachers about environmental monitoring in the Luga river basin, interregional River Festival 2017, and other educational and awareness-raising activities in the Leningrad region within the Year of Ecology of the Russian Federation.