International Seminar "River Watch as a tool for public participation in decision making and improvement of the state of the environment"

Was organized and held by the Interregional Youth Environmental NGO Friends of the Baltic in co-operation with the Centre for Environmental Information with the support of Coalition Clean Baltic.Old palace (XVIII centure) Znamenka on the shore of the Gulf of Finland

Activists of environmental NGOs, teachers, leaders of youth environmental groups, experts and representatives of local authorities came to the Seminar held in an old palace Znamenka (Petrodvorets) on the shore of the Gulf of Finland between mouths of rivers Shingarka and Strelka.

Participants from St.Petersburg, Leningrad region, Novgorod, Kaliningrad, and Finland shared their experiences and results in river watch activities, public monitoring, and co-operation with authorities when solving environmental problems on the local level.

The most typical O. Senova and V. Ovtcharenko hold the seminarproblems of small rivers in the North-West Russia are: run-off of surface waters, non-treated releases of wastewaters from industry, agriculture and households, garbage on river banks and in rivers, illegal changes of river courses and construction of hydrotechnical facilities (dams). All this negatively influences the environmental state of rivers and their basins, and causes extinction of organisms that used to live there earlier. In particular, salmon fishes used to come to rivers of the Russian part of the Finnish Gulf drainage area. Now they are hardly met here.

All participants of the Seminar noted that legal gaps and the lack of practice of public participation is a serious hindrance to solution of specific problems of rivers in Russia. Also, regional and local water-protection and nature-protection regulations are often absent, thus making inapplicable existing federal laws.

Friends of the Baltic Friends of the Baltic NGO presented the River Watch programFriends of the Baltic NGO Board Chairperson Olga SenovaNGO presented the River Watch program of Coalition Clean Baltic aimed at sustainable development of river basins In the Baltic Sea Region. Special attention was paid in the presentation to the network of youth environmental groups that work on rivers of the Finnish Gulf basin, and to experience of co-operation with authorities on strategic planning and management in river basins on the south shore of the Gulf of Finland.

The representative of the Lomonosov district Administration (that includes a considerable part of the south shore of the Finnish Gulf) spoke about experience and problems in following the water-protection legislation in the district, about intentions to use the basin approach in strategic planning.

The seminar participants The seminar participants shared their results of monitoring riversshared their results of monitoring rivers Luga, Kovashi, Glukhovka, Lebyazhya, Karasta, Strelka, Kikenka (the south shore of the Finnish Gulf), Slavyanka and Kamenka (the basin of the Neva river); Sestra, Chernaya, Roshinka (the north shore of the Finnish Gulf); of rivers in Kaliningrad and Novgorod regions, and the river Kumba in Finland.

At the seminar, the project on improvement of environmental state in basins of rivers Strelka and Kikenka was presented. These rivers feed the system of ponds in the park of the Palace of congresses (the Konstantinovskiy Palace).

The Project was prepared by Research Institution of Hydrotechnique by the order of Nevsko-Ladozhski Basin Department and Government of Leningrad region. The seminar participants supported the idea to introduce the basin management of rivers in the region of St.Petersburg and Leningrad region for integrated solution of environmental problems, and gave their objections to the project drawbacks. In particular, they noted that the project does not consider the biodiversity issues at all.

The seminar participants The seminar participants discussed different ways for informing the publicdiscussed different ways for informing the public about importance of rivers preservation and possibilities of public participation in conservation of nature of river basins.

An important decision of the seminar The seminar participantswas creation of the North-West Public River Watch Network. The Coordination Council of the Network will be based at the St.Petersburg Centre for Environmental Information. It will become the resource information centre for this network/ Friends of the Baltic accumulates there and will distribute both Russian and international experience, and experience of Coalition Clean Baltic in river watch and sustainable river management, and distributing it further.

For additional information please contact:

Vera Ovtcharenko
River watch network coordinator in St.Petersburg and Leningrad region
Phone/fax: +7 81276 73210

Olga Senova
Friends of the Baltic, Board Chairperson
Phone/fax: +7 812 4280658

Yandex citirovania