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Dialogue on common actions for saving of Luga River

A round table "Luga River as a common value and common responsibility" was held on 20 June 2017, in Luga. Representatives of government, scientists, farmers, gardeners, social activists, teachers, and active citizens of Luga and Kingisepp districts were brought together at the site of Luga Social-business centre. They share an interest in preserving the waters and wildlife of the Luga river and its banks.

The meeting was opened by Deputy head of administration of the Luga district Sergey Lapushkin.
"We wish fish in the river, different species of flora and fauna. But we should take into account that environmental measures demand large expenses. Therefore the Year of Ecology declared by the President imposes a great responsibility on all of us."
The administration of the Luga district is concerned about the lowering of the water level in the river. Previously navigable river is so flat nowadays that any navigation is merely possible. What we need to start solving this problem is the state program for restoration of the riverbed and the resumption of shipping.

Shallowing and eutrophication of river, pollution of its tributaries and streams are the main environmental challenges in the region, as Irina Uginova said. She is the member of the Board of the NGO "Association for assistance of field research & development of rural territories". Irina described participants the results of Lugabalt project . This project is aimed at cross-border cooperation between South-Eastern Finland and Russia, one component of which includes the installation of three monitoring stations in Luga river as well as in its tributaries and streams. The observations were attended by both scholchildren and students from Luga district. In most cases, the condition of the water is satisfactory, however 8 spots out of 32 are considered as "hot spots".

The head of Tolmachevo school, Julia Shevtsova, coordinates the studies of water quality in water objects of Leningrad region by schoolchildren. She confirmed that paying attention to the water quality of small rivers and streams is very important, because the main part of the pollutants inflowing Luga river is coming from there. After the confluence of small tributaries in the Luga river, polluting substances are "diluted" and the water quality is getting better. However, the condition of the small rivers is not improved.

A chief state inspector of the North-West territorial Department of the Federal fishery Agency, Vladislav Surikov, told the participants about his experience on the protection of fish stocks and the results of communication with local citizens. As he noted, in most cases people simply do not know the rules of fishing, they are unaware of the availability of the water protection zones. It is important to install some information signs about the existing rules on the river – then there will probably be less offenders.

Among other issues, there is a big problem of abandoned nets. Salmon always comes from Luga river to Oredezh river. On the way it meets obstacles, most of which is abandoned gear. There is a contradiction: according to the legislation, use of networks is a licensed form of fishing, each of these one must have a license number. Unfortunately, it’s not a problem to buy nets without any documents. The inspector believes that legislation is necessary to impose restrictions on the sale of nets and to create a system of monitoring to ensure that the law is not violated.

"Fishermen are willing to buy permits for fishing, but one cannot just buy such permission. In the Luga district permits are not issued and fishing is prohibited. You need to grant permissions by setting quotas and making an exception for salmon fishing. And then law-abiding citizens will support the fisheries", - said the inspector.

ECO-TOURISM SHOULD BE DEVELOPED
Ekaterina Eliseeva (Executive Director of Luga social and business centre) say about an important issue for the region. It is the development of a tourism. The Strategy of socio-economic development of Luga district (where the development of tourism is one of the priorities) was adopted in 2016. Two water routes on the Luga river were developed. There are also plans of the organization "green site" on the shore of the river and of the promenade arrangement along the river. Meanwhile, the urgent issue is financing. All the financial resources are need to be used and all the efforts of all stakeholders to be united to make the river and the region better.

IS IT ALWAYS A FAULT OF BUSINESS?
Irina Fedulova, the head of family dairy farm, took the floor. The farm, she’s leading, processes manure into biogas. Irina believes that the production of biogas is a proper method of reducing the impact of animal waste on the environment. Although there is almost no economic impact at current energy prices. It is important for people to see: farm is a cleaner production.

The owner of "Partizan" farm, Victor Sychev considers himself a responsible user of nature resources. He does everything possible to reduce the impact on the environment. He believes that none of the representatives of the enterprises is polluting the nature around intentionally, although people have to understand that the introduction of environmentally friendly technologies is also finance issue, it is not always possible to allocate the required amount on environmental measures.

Manure at the "Partizan" farm is kept in lagoons for a while, where the underlying layer is a natural clay, a very low permeable soil, commonly used for waterproofing. If there was enough financial resources, they should make concrete lagoon. One concreted oncrete lagoon costs 5 million rubles. For 1,500 heads of cattle there need to be three such sites. The crucial question is whereone can get the money to do the business?

Companies using too much fertilizer – it is a myth. Fertilizers are very expensive, no one buys or uses more than minimum required. The Farm "Partizan" used 100 kg/ha of fertilizer. An often the cause of contamination is incorrect behavior of ordinary people – there are mountains of plastic around the farm. Victor Sychev drew attention to the fact that the region is still on the very low level of ecological responsibility, especially among young people.

THE ADULT PROBLEMS SHOULD BE HEARED BY CHILDREN
Marina Lisina is one of the round table participants, she’s a teacher at school №2 in the town of Luga. She believes that children often take a bad example from parents, so we need to educate not only children but also adults. Unfortunately, parents rarely talk to their children about environmental issues.

Olga Senova, the Chairman of Friends of the Baltic NGO, told the participants about the Luga river Festival, which is held every year on different rivers in Saint-Petersburg and the Leningrad region and brings together children and adults for the big celebration of the river. "The problems of adults should be heared by children" - says Olga. In 2017, the River Festival was held in Kingisepp. It is also important to hold the Festival in the town of Luga. In 2018 so it would draw an attention of both adults and children to the problems of the river.

Vitaly Khaustov, a representative of Russian State Hydrometeorological University, agreed that education of youth is a very important task. That’s why the University conducts the environmental practice for students in the village Daimische in Gatchina district on the river Oredezh every year.

PROBLEMS OF GARDENERS
Executive Director of Union of gardeners of St. Petersburg and Leningrad region Leonid Zubko noted there are no rules and regulations of water using and discharges in gardening communities: everyone does what he wants. Gardeners involving into discussion is very important, as they make a significant contribution to the pollution of water and soils. We need recommendations for gardening, what to do in different situations - about the requirements for wells, what to do with a low level of groundwater, how to carry out melioration, how to apply fertilizers, to cause minimal damage to nature.

LET’S SAVE THE RIVER TOGETHER
Proposals of participants were included in the resolution of the round table, which will be sent to the Administration of the Luga district and all interested structures and departments.
Round table participants recognized the importance of involving of all stakeholders in solving of the river basin problems.

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A proposal was to establish the River Public Advisary River Teams (PARTs) - consultative public group of the Luga River Basin - on the basis of participants in this round table. This team have to include representatives of public organizations, business, education, scientists. The first task of PARTs will be the education and the formation of an ecological culture of the population, the dissemination of best practices to reduce the nutrient load on natural waters, and public control over the environmental situation.

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