The honorary diploma and the medal For Russian Nature Protection were bestowed to Yury Pautov, director of the Komi Regional Non-Profit Foundation Silver Taiga, at the representative meeting dedicated to preservation of Russia’s virgin forests with the participation of authorities, business, and public organizations on 1 December in Saint Petersburg. Yury was asked to answer some questions related to the occasion.
Annual results, areas of focus and plans for the upcoming year were discussed by the Working Group of the Sustainable Fish Resource Management in Cooperation with Local Communities: Model River Mezen project.
This round table was held in Koslan’s district administration on 17 November. The local Council deputies, local members of the project work group, volunteers of the Komi Voytyr interregional public movement, representatives of the district administration, AgroUdora cooperative, OOO Ozherelye Udora, Udora department of Komi branch of the Federal Fishery Agency, Upper Mezen district forestry, Republic Center of Specially Protected Natural Areas and the Silver Taiga Foundation took part in the discussion initiated under the Model River Mezen project.
A regular meeting of the Work Group focused on development of the target interregional program for salmon preservation and reproduction in the Mezen and formed three years ago under the support of the regional government has been held again. Although the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of the Komi Republic hosted the first interregional meeting on the issue that very time as well, it was also the last one mostly due to numerous structural reorganizations.
More than 120 logging operators from Mondi Syktyvkar and its contracting organizations took part in the field courses on the subject «Planning and organization of loggings according to the requirements of the Russian National FSC standard – ecological and silvicultural aspects» carried out by Silver Taiga Foundation.
The representatives of Silver Taiga Foundation have prepared and submitted a letter to the Head of the Komi Republic Sergei Gaplikov with regard to his decision about combination of the Ministry of Nature and the Ministry of Industry under the umbrella of the Ministry of Industry taken on October 17.
An annual research expedition on monitoring of the spawning grounds of the Atlantic salmon population in the Mezen has come to an end. The expedition was organized by Silver Taiga Foundation under Model River Mezen Project.
During a week the upper reaches of the Mezen and the tributaries Upper and Lower Puzla, Elva Mezenskaya and Pyssawere examined. The counting of the salmon redds number was conducted according to the integrated practice. Such redds help to keep a record of the spawned-out representatives of the Atlantic salmon.
Besides Silver Taiga specialists the representatives of the partners took part in the expedition, they are: Udora branch of Komirubvod State Budgetary Institution, SPNA Republican Center, Udora Department of the State Control and Protection of Water Bioresources, indigenous community «Udorachi». The participants of the expedition divided into three groups and they covered not less than 200 km along Mezen River and its upper tributaries holding fixed the spawning redds and their positioning data as well as the number of the noticed grown-up and young representatives of the Atlantic salmon.
According to the participants of the expedition, the situation on the inspected parts of the spawning tributaries is different. There were, for example, many spawing redds in the upper reaches of Mezen River and on the Upper Puzla River and at the same time only one redd was noticed on Pyssa River. The marks of illegal fishing was also not noticed on Pyssa River. As the ichthyologists say, the salmon population is already destroyed here and that is why there is nothing to fish. But we should consider the fact that the water in Pyssa river is warmer in comparison with Mezen River and for this reason the spawning is possible here but at a later time.
Overall, the participants of the expedition have noticed an aggressive fishing pressing almost on all the inspected rivers. The bigger one is on the Lower Puzla River, which is available from the Mezen River and from the road bridge. The marks of the illegal fishing – a score of stone and wooden fences, fishing nets, campfire sites with the illegal fishing equipment left nearby. As an example, there was an incident happened during the first day of the expedition. Two boats with people were noticed on the Lower Puzla River, which were moving up the river. The state inspector asked them to stop but they continued to move. Later on the illegal fishing equipment such as fences and fishing nets with dead young salmon and grayling was noticed downstream the river. The similar situation was observed all along the inspected part of the Lower Puzla River.
There were the state inspectors among the participants of two groups and that is why it was possible to combine the monitoring of the spawning grounds and the supervisory control. As a result of this, two reports on administrative violation have been written.
Breeding grounds at these areas have been monitored for six years in a row. Is it possible to see any changes or track the trends related to the Mezen salmon?
“There are some trends to be noted”, Nikolay Shilov, the Mezen Model River project coordinator and leader of the expedition, believes. “The years of ongoing monitoring have demonstrated increased number of redds which depends on a multitude of factors, including weather conditions. However, it is clear that redd occupancy is extremely low. Written sources and old-time residents tell us that before the 1950s salmon rising for spawning were so numerous that they often swept away each other’s nests and redds to find some spawning space. Comparison with other rivers with salmon spawning there highlights low level of occupancy at breeding grounds as well. Meanwhile, breeding grounds in the Mezen and its tributaries in Udora district are in good condition, so their potential is underutilized. The results of our six-year monitoring research will be soon reviewed and discussed with experts, and it is most likely that we will be able to draw some conclusions. Monitoring of the condition and occupancy of breeding grounds is one of the techniques to assess the population dynamics. So, such conclusions will be relevant to justify the activities under the interregional Mezen salmon preservation program initiated and currently implemented by us”.
Photo by Nikolay Shilov
Silver Taiga representatives Alexander Borovlyov and Nikolay Shilov spent the last two weeks of September showing demonstration routes of Komi Model Forest to the first-year students of Syktyvkar Forest Institute.
The joint initiative of the Foundation and Syktyvkar Forest Institute has been implemented for the fifth year in a row and is still relevant. Each year dozens freshmen enter the institute, but few of them can boast of knowing the basics of forest – something they will have to help manage in a couple of years. Even though these are young people who have chosen such majors as Economics, or IT Systems, or Forestry Machinery and Equipment, rather than Forestry or Environmental Protection, many of them are expected to work in the forestry sector after graduation. So, for the boys and girls getting know about the area of their future activity was a good reason to become eager participants of the “environmental race” (as such field trips are called in the Forest Institute).
Each morning since 16 September a group of freshmen accompanied by a supervisor and an expert from the Foundation went to the Model Forest in Priluzye district. The main part of the field trip took place at the demonstration route Forest and Man – History of Relationships near the village of Chitayevo.
“Why do we offer this very route to freshmen? Because if you learn it, you get the understanding of how a man explored and transformed forest, and how forest recovers after anthropogenic impact”, Alexander Borovlyov explains the reason for the route selection. “It is this place, Priluzye district, Model Forest that has the longest forest management history, if compared to other Komi districts. So you can “travel” centuries back with students and show them the way forest regenerates after various impacts and long-term effect of forest use”.
After that, students are shown elements of natural forest dynamics and real life of forest with no human intervention at the Pine and Refugium demonstration routes.
As Alexander says, mostly those with field-specific majors, or students who had passed the biology test to enter the institute and knew at least something of forest ecosystems were, of course, most agitated about the field trip. However, guys from other groups also participated in the 8-kilometer environmental cross-country race most willingly, and asked plenty of questions.
Some sophomores also decided to walk the same route for the second time with freshmen, which proves that students do take interest in such field trips.
It is interesting to note that there are more villagers with practical knowledge about forest among first-year students this year. There were very few guys who had never been to forest before.
In total, over 170 freshmen got the “recruit” training in sustainable taiga management for half a month. In September last year only six days were devoted to such tours across the Model Forest for the same number of young people. As the environmental experts who have dealt with students this year comment, last year’s concept of enlarging groups to over 40 people each turned out to be ineffective. Work in groups of 15-20 people was much more efficient. In this case you have a chance to see the route in details and provide your feedback. That is how field trips have worked this year.
The photo is provided by Syktyvkar Forest Institute students
Komi hosted the International Forest Summer School course initiated by Syktyvkar Forest Institute and conducted with the support of the partners – Mondi Syktyvkar and Silver Taiga – from 5 to 10 September. International students join Syktyvkar Forest Institute students for this annual course.
At the beginning of September the Foundation’s environmentalists held a workshop for the fishers of the Irva branch of the AgroUdora cooperative to reinforce fish resources monitoring skills of the cooperative’s members.