Northern shore of the Gulf of Finland: eutrophication, local eco-groups and perspectives for protected areas on the coast.

Author: Junna Maltseva.

July 3rd Friends of the Baltic team cycled along the Northern coast of the Gulf of Finland in Kurortny district of St.Petersburg. We held an informational campaign and gathered residents’ signatures under the petition for the protection of the Baltic Sea in Zelenogorsk town park and on the beach in Solnechnoe village. A group of students, members of Sestroretsk cycling club “Sportstyle” (high school #324) and their teachers joined us that day.

On the beach we interviewed the members of Sestroretsk eco-group "Dune" who take care of the beach area west from “Dunes” hotel and resort and try to preserve memorable historical sites on the coast. In the nearby town of Zelenogorsk we held a meeting with the head of environmental laboratory and eco-tourism children’s club “Ant” based in Zelenogorsk local library.

Eutrophication and beaches.

Signs of eutrophicationThe northern shore of the Gulf of Finland has been a favorite resort area for the residents of St.Petersburg and Leningrad region for decades. However the negative changes in the coastal environment unfortunately can be found here as well. For example near the mouth of Malaya Sestra river the coast line of the Gulf of Finland has clear marks of eutrophication: there is an abundance of rotting seaweed on the shore and the smell is really unpleasant. In the same time, the coastline in several hundred meters to the west and to the east of the Malaya Sestra mouth looks rather clean and healthy; the amount of the seaweed there looks quite natural.

The coastline between Sestroretsk and Zelenogorsk is the place where the old border between Russia and Finland took place. Even today the border stones with marks dating back to 1918 could be found on the shore. The members of local eco-group “Dune” do their best to protect these historical sites from commercial developers, who plan to build up this area with entertainment facilities and restaurants. They also take care about their “own” piece of the beach. This couple hundred meters long area lies between the resort and municipal beach. When it comes to the maintenance and clean up at the beach, this piece of land turns to be nobody’s: neither the resort nor the municipality does any maintenance work there.

So the local activists decided to take care of their favorite nature territory themselves. They started a programme called “Clean coasts”, they clean up the beach, plant trees, talk with the tourists about this place and ask them to follow some basic rules of behavior on the beach.

Bike lanes and local environmental club

Bike lane in Kurortny districtBike lane in Kurortny districtOn the way from Sestroretsk to Zelenogorsk we cycled partly along the coast and partly along the bike lane near the highway. Kurortny district is one of the very few places in St.Petersburg with proper bike lanes. However even here the bike lanes do not have any signs or marking lines between bike and pedestrian parts of the lane. So in some cases our group faced some misunderstanding of the local people, especially among elderly people, who are not aware of the fact that these lanes are built not only for pedestrians but also for cyclists.

In Zelenogorsk we met the head of environmental laboratory and eco-toursim club “Ant”, Olga Romanovskaya. She told us about their library, about eco-trails and guided tours developed and performed by children themselves; about the local celebration of “Ant’s day” when children and their parents make small gifts of reused materials and learn how to produce less waste; about the library’s and environmental laboratory’s work with environmental thinking approach in children education.

Nature protected areas

Environmental club "Ant"Environmental club "Ant"We discussed also the perspectives for the development of the protected areas on the coast. Many people living in Kurortny (which means “resort” in Russian) district believe that the whole district should become an environmentally protected area, but how this can be achieved when there are many private properties right on the coast? The development areas situated near protected areas can also affect badly the nature zones. For example, the construction of Gazprom Lakhta tower which is going on near Yuntolovo protected area affects the birds resting in Yuntolovo during migrations. Ski resort in Pukhtolova hill affects badly the trees and vegetation cover nearby because of the heavy machinery operating on the resort during the ski season (earth-movers and ratracs).

Zelenogorsk citizen is signing the petitionZelenogorsk citizen is signing the petitionSummarizing the day

The Norther shore of the Gulf of Finland near St.Petersburg is experiencing a heavy load from excessive inflow of nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, overly intensive development of coastline, constant aggradation of coastal areas due to which the water becomes opaque and it affects badly all aquatic organisms. But on the other hand there is a growing number of local initiatives in the coastal areas, that show a substantial attitude change and care towards the local nature. People try to achieve a fair dialog with local government and municipalities and also make their own contributions to the protection of the coastline. However the fair dialog and co-operation with larger commercial and political structures is still almost impossible.

To reduce the load on the Gulf and the Baltic every citizen and all decision-makers have to take action. We need to plan the coastal area so that a substantial part of it would belong to natural areas that are needed for public recreation and restoration of habitat conditions for all the organisms living in the Baltic Sea.

More photos you can find in our album:

Yandex citirovania