International CCB River Watch Camp - 2008

July 30 - August 5, 2008 International CCB River Watch camp was organized in Belarus at the Vileiskoye lake, belonging to Western Dvina basin, by ARB-BirdLife-Belarus non-governmental environmental organization in cooperation with Friends of the Baltic NGO (Russia).
This camp became a part of priority activity of international Coalition Clean Baltic, devoted to the promotion of the sustainable river basin management.
Participants of the camp were representatives of CCB member organizations from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine - teachers, school and university students, NGO activists.
The camp program included trainings and workshops for young and grown up River Watch (RW) participants, round table for teachers, presentations of experts, folk parties and excursions.
Camp was organized on the basis of rehabilitation-health center Nadezhda, which was established to help children, influenced by Chernobyl catastrophe. This centre is organized by very environmentally friendly way - with beautiful landscapes, small wastewater treatment plant, separate collection and recycling of solid waste, use of renewable energy - solar collector and timber fuel for heating water.
Within the camp program expert of ARB-BirdLife-Belarus showed young and adult River Watch activists plants, birds, invertebrates - inhabitants of water and coastal ecosystems. Russian experts trained students in hydro chemical river investigations, hydrology, social monitoring, played games “Build house near the water” and “Waste management”. Ukrainian teachers showed students program for visual evaluation of the river environmental state.
Participants of the round table shared their River Watch (RW) experience. Natalia Parecina, leader of RW/Belarus, said how project is running in the basin of Western Dvina, where 20 schools participate. She spoke also about ARB project actions - introduction seminar, summer camps, seminar on RW results, festival “Live Water”, and cooperation with experts, which evaluate results of schoolchildren investigations. Belarusian teachers presented local RW work on the rivers Bernovka, Chernavka, Ulla, Naroch lake, which all belong to the Baltic Sea region. Local RW groups had found pollutions of the rivers with biogenic elements, iron, and chlorine. They informed authorities about this data and sources of pollution - local farms and small industry. Participants RW group in Polotsk gymnasium made an environmental description of several small rivers as a River Passports.
Although non-governmental organizations are not in favor in Belarus, some authorities have already understood that NGO RW activities are very useful for the society. ARB starts negotiations in the Ministry of environment to establish Public Inspectors for water monitoring, as previous years Public Inspectors for nature protection were approved by special Ministry regulation. Then RW results could be accepted by state monitoring bodies.
Galina Kulikova (Friends of the Baltic), leader of RW project in the Gulf of Finland region (Russia) presented experience of 10-years RW activities on the small rivers, about annual actions - youth conference, methodical seminar for teachers, spring River Festival. RW actions and publications attract attention of citizens, and sometimes push authorities to organize cleaning up the rivers and banks. RW project educated many hundreds schoolchildren and reached thousands residents with information about environmentally friendly behavior for rivers protection.
Vera Ovcharenko (Green World) spoke about experience of public participation for the protection of the Strelka river basin, where she lives and worked, very successful, about petitions to authorities, public hearings, and interaction with local business. She told about experience of public participation within Friends of the Baltic RW activities, and barriers for this kind of NGO work.
Ukrainian teachers spoke about their first RW activities in the rural areas, cleaning up actions, and visual evaluation of the river. Within the RW project they start investigations of the Western Bug river, belonging the Baltic Sea drainage area.
Expert from Eco-House NGO Nina Polutskaya (Belarus) made a presentation about environmental impact of hydro energy installations. Olga Senova (Friends of the Baltic, Russia) presented sustainable solutions for river basin management, including energy saving, renewable energy, biological wastewater treatment, and organic agriculture. She had made a special focus of environmentally friendly waste water treatment technologies - separate toilets for individual and collective house, biologic methods for treatment of “gray water”, and distributed CCB publications on this topic.
Every evening national teams prepared national cultural program, songs, dances and games. All camp participants got a unique feeling of unity, friendship and belonging to the common environmental “family” - Coalition Clean Baltic.

For more information please contact:

Natalia Porechina, ARB-BirdLife, Belarus: tel. +375172630130 (office), +375296434610 (mob), e-mail:
Olga Senova, Friends of the Baltic, tel: +7 921 9117986,

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