How can we improve the state of environment and the Baltic sea? The results of Youth River Conference

The environmental status of rivers and the Gulf of Finland, water bodies polluted with nitrates and phosphates, litter on the banks and microplastics in natural waters. These are just several tipics topics discussed at the 19th annual conference of schoolchildren “Ecomonitoring of rivers, the Gulf of Finland, and the environment” which was held on October 19 in St. Petersburg. More than 80 pupils of St. Petersburg and Leningrad region took part in conference, including the participants of River Watch programme of Coalition Clean Baltic and transboundary SEVIRA project. Both young and experienced researchers attended the event, thereby they shared their experiences and school kids learned the strong points of their studies and some tips for advancing them.

Natural areas of St. Petersburg and Leningrad region are numerous, diverse, and have different environmental statuses. As it turned out, there are many problems related to pollution both in city and countryside. At the same time, natural objects with a high level of biodiversity and clean waters are also preserved. For example, Karpovka and Zhdanovka rivers suffer from industrial effluents. The results showed that the concentration of nitrates and phosphates in Popova Izhorka river near Kolpino increased, also the oxygen content was low. Untreated household effluents and washes from agricultural fields are the ones to blame.

Samples taken from popular tourist sites contained a lot of plastic particles. Studies of small water bodies on microplastics based on Friends of the Baltic methods showed that with increasing recreational load the microplastics concentration also grows. The biodiversity research on organisms found among marine litter of Vrevo lake showed that plastic becomes part of natural ecosystems as different organisms begin to live on it. This means that it’s quite complicated now to remove waste from water bodies without harming the ecosystem. The marine litter research was based on “Know Feel Act! To stop Marine Litter” guidebook.

However, a high variety of invertebrate aquatic life was found in the Savozero lake. Good news: it stays this way for years now. The diversity of birds appeared to be high as well. Obviously, the region has a great natural potential.

With SEVIRA project new schools joined the conference this year. After the field trips to Sestra and Seleznevka rivers the participants were inspired by the idea of regular environmental monitoring. If you’re also interested, please fill in the results of your observations at the public river watch map and SEVIRA River Watch platform.

Coalition Clean Baltic, SEVIRA project, Baltic Sea Conservation Fund, and «More Baltic, Less Plastic» project supported the conference.

Abstracts could be found here. Photos of the conference.