Luga river and the South Shore of the Gulf of Finland water basin - Nature and People Program in the Year of Ecology

Barents-Baltic Nature and Man Program (BBNP Program) coordinators and members of the Public Council of Luga River Basin and the rivers of the Southern shore of the Gulf of Finland, as well as members of the Salmon Council of the Luga River Basin discussed on December 26th the results and future plans of BBNP Program. They shared the results of the Program activities - publications, established cooperation with authorities, municipalities, farmers, fishermen, citizens; as well as findings of river watch; results of surveys on water management and climate change; environmental situation analyze and priority tasks of NGOs.

Representatives of Ecocentrum, as well as Friends of the Baltic, Baltic Fund for Nature, River watch leaders from Kingisepp and Luga regions, Peterhof, south-west part of St.Petersburg and Biodynamika public organization during the first part of the Round table discussed how they will implement the plans and decisions taken in cooperation with project partners.

Among these solutions are: public research and visualization of data on nutrient loads in water bodies, dissemination of good sewage treatment practices, utilization of organic waste, volunteer actions to save clear salmon breeding areas, public support for environmentally friendly fishing and counteracting for poaching, improving legislation and environmental practices in cooperation with authorities. One of its main tasks is to support and strengthen the activities of local activists in solving environmental problems.

More than 20 partners of Friends of the Baltic from St. Petersburg and Leningrad region - NGOs, scientists, teachers, students - were participants of the second part of the meeting. The activists discussed the results of the Year of Ecology and the most important environmental events at the international, national and regional levels.

Among them are a number of international forums that provide a platform for interaction between NGOs, scientists, business and authorities: Baltic Sea Day in St. Petersburg, the International Conference on Marine litter and microplastic, Climate Forum COP23, where the voice of the Russian public was presented. Many international youth programs presented the public's view: = World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi, various youth environmental projects, International Youth Water Parliament.

Many participants of the round table noted that there are few real results of improving the ecological situation at all levels. An important result of NGOs work was noted: the Government of the Russian Federation adopted a resolution on the creation of "East of the Gulf of Finland" protected area. Historically it is the most important protected area, including the islands and the water area of the bay, called the Ingermanland protected area - more than 15 years scientists and public try to save this place. Another positive step in the "water basin issue" is the developing of Public River Councils of St. Petersburg and Leningrad region, the goal - to initiate intersectoral and interregional working group of the city and the Leningrad region on the topic of pollution of water bodies.

The round table participants discussed the effectiveness of BBNP Program in the form of a questionnaire. It is generally agreed that the Program promotes understanding of saving water ecosystems and promoting the importance of water basin approach. The level of cooperation, awareness about environmental situation and management of river basins among the Program participants has increased.

All respondents noted that the Public Advisore river teams and the Public Salmon Council of the Luga basin are effective tools for improving the situation, although it is still important to involve new participants, develop the Council structure taking into account the interests of different areas of the basin and various social groups. The participants noted the interest in cooperation to achieve the program goals and disseminate the results among colleagues, partners and media.