Man on the Coast. How to combine people needs and the coastal nature conservation?

Written by: Senova O., Shauro T.
International seminar "Man on the Coast" in the end of October in St. Petersburg was organized by "Friends of the Baltic" NGO with the support of Nordic Council of Ministers, and in cooperation with Ecologo-Biological center "Krestovskiy Island". The main theme of the seminar was experience exchange in nature education and sustainable solutions to preserve the unique coastal ecosystems - in the Nordic countries, the Baltic countries and Northwest Russia.

The seminar was attended by scientists, experts from nature protected areas and municipalities, educators, scholars, and activists from non-governmental organizations in St. Petersburg, Leningrad, Arkhangelsk, Novgorod region, Republic of Karelia and Estonia. The seminar presented the experience of Denmark, Sweden and Finland, which Russian experts and young leaders gained in the summer during a study visit to the Nordic countries.
Rasmus Smeds, from Information Office of the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM IB) in St. Petersburg, presented to seminar participants the programs for cooperation and exchange supported by IB NCM, and also told about the principles of the NCM IB work.

Olga Senova (Friends of the Baltic) showed an overview, made by Coalition Clean Baltic (Checking Coastal Conservation). , of good and bad examples, that shows the attitude to coastal nature and implementation of HELCOM recommendations in the countries located on the Baltic Sea coast.

Examples of barbarous coast development and neglecting natural values can be found in all countries. At the same time there is a very rewarding experience of recreational areas development with sparing regime visit, sustainable tourism, ecological farms etc. There are interesting positive examples: sea grass usage, removed when cleaning the beaches, as a renewable resource for thermal insulation materials (Denmark), the joint development of voluntary agreements on the rules of navigation and coastal zoning between seafarers and fishermen (Germany), adoption of the municipal law for the coastal zone protection (Latvia).
Expert from the Expertise Center "ECOM" Andrey Reznikov at seminar told about the value of the Gulf of Finland nature, where many valuable species of vascular plants are concentrated, such as Myrica gale (federal protected species), Senecio paludosus and Ví́ola palústris (regional protected species), and many others. Rare protected birds: osprey, whooper swan, ruff, white-tailed eagle - also tied to our coast. Places where they nest or feed are in the low swamped shores.

Today half of the 200-km Gulf coastline, which belongs to St. Petersburg, built up with ports and quays. Except settlements and beaches, less than a quarter of length of the coast with natural coastal ecosystems is left. Luxury buildings on the coast take the only remaining pieces of the coast, taking away people access to the shore.
Beaches are really rare, as well as natural wetlands. St. Petersburg has 50 km of beaches, and if you divide it by the number of residents, we will obtain 1 cm of beaches for each of St. Petersburg citizens. Because of the recreation places shortage, all this coastal areas are very vulnerable and overwhelmed.

Not all types of recreation safe for the coast, they can damage the beaches and coastal nature, such as quad bikes, which almost destroy the grass cover of the shores in our region. There are patrols, who are trying to limit this impact. Expert data about permissible recreational load is needed and also measures to limit this load.
The representative from the National Park "Russian Arctic" Alexander Feldt said that they have started a research about influence of recreation load on the nature. Attracting tourists to this unusual area is very difficult, and this should be done carefully. The only place that can be offered to the visitors is Franz Josef Land, where you can watch the walrus rookery. But it scares the animals and they are leaving their habitat. The vulnerability of the northern nature requires a very careful analysis of the allowable recreational impact.

Eco trails - one of the options to limit recreational loads. It can combine opportunities to earn money and to educate visitors about the values and rules of behavior in nature. Remarkable ecological trail on the Kullaberg coast in Sweden was visited by participants of the educational trip to the Nordic countries in summer. We also have nature trails in the North-West Russia. For example: eco-trail was created in the Gatchina park - the route with information about the nature with elements of education. Sometimes new plant species can be found, while working with schoolkids on the trail. Eco-trail also was developed by teachers from Fyodorovskaya school on the Volkhov River.

Elena Litvinova presented the experience of nature trails and other educational programs of Valdai National Park, as well as problems associated with the outflow of people from small towns and a shortage of employment in the national park.

Alexander Markov, head of public SPOC (Petrozavodsk) NGO told about the experience of the Nordic countries used for development of environmental projects of the Republic of Karelia, about the problems and possible solutions for nature conservation on the coast of Ladoga Lake.

The representative of the Estonian Society for Nature Conservation Nadezda Cherkashina shared the results of coastline researches made with schoolkids, and analysis of changes on the coast during last 150 years. The students also investigated the influence of oil shale power plant on the coast of the River Narva, and its soot air pollution in the village.
Lyandzberg Arthur, director of EBC "Krestovskiy island" spoke about the experience of naturalistic expeditions and practices for students to familiarize them with a wealth of coastal nature.

Julia Danilova and Eugene Genelt-Yanovsky, representatives of the Baltic Fund for Nature, showed examples of work with teachers and students on the coast. Also they presented the techniques how to organizing cognitive walks along the shore.

Participants of the seminar formed three groups to develop solutions that improve the status of coastal areas. Each group worked on a specific topic:
1. Proposals for the improving situation on the coast, for coastal protection and sustainable development, addressed to decision makers.
2. Development of international cooperation relating to coast sustainable development and outdoor education.
3. Interregional cooperation in the North-West of Russia, relating to coasts conservation and education in nature.
Workshop participants agreed on necessary steps to preserve the coast and future cooperation in the Nordic-Baltic region. Decisions:

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