The members of the Foundation held meetings jointly with the Udora representative branch of the Komi Voytyr Interregional Public Movement and the Udora district department of state supervision, surveillance and protection of aquatic bioresources in the villages of Vazhgort, Chuprovo and Puchkoma located by the Vashka river.
Meeting local residents of the Mezen river catchment area is exceptionally important both to reach the targets of the Model River Mezen project, and to implement other Foundation’s initiatives aimed at sustainable management of environmental assets. It is the local population that serves as the key user of the river and forest resources, it is one of the stakeholders whose interests, however, are poorly met in the processes of forest and river management. Therefore, keeping the locals aware, building connection with them, ensuring feedback and support of local initiatives is the main focus of the project. In the past years such activities under the Model River Mezen project were held mainly in communities along the Mezen river. Starting from last year the Working Group has been working hard to make the population of rural areas by the Vashka, the biggest tribute of the Mezen, interested as well.
This time, Valentina Semyashkina, representative of the Foundation, informed the villagers about Silver Taiga’s activities – about the projects somehow related to the concerns of the rural inhabitants living along the Vashka. Such projects include the initiative of establishing Specially Protected Natural Areas based on valuable virgin forests (Pyssa and Karpogory forest areas), the project on assessing logging impact on aquatic resources, and, of course, the Mezen project targeted at sustainable river resource management.
The feedback from the participants of the meetings makes it clear they realize the value and importance of the remaining forest areas for the local population, so they support the Foundation’s preservation initiatives. However, the villagers often fail to understand that implementation of any initiative, however acute and significant it may be, requires compliance with the legislation, observance of effective rules and conditions. That is why you could sometimes hear someone appealing for “kicking” logging operators away from the areas, increasing the size of water protection zones, etc. For instance, in Puchkoma, such issues triggered a heated debate, which, first of all, means that environmental friendliness towards forest and river resources is of high concern for the locals. Secondly, it proves imperfection of the effective laws and rules and the absence of any feedback between the inhabitants of the areas with resources and law-makers. Both factors clearly indicate the need in proactive cooperation with the local residents and other stakeholders, therefore the partnership and cooperation principle is one of the basic ones for Silver Taiga’s projects.
The presentation from Alina Vaneyeva, who represented primarily Komi Voytyr, as well as Udora centralized library system and the Agroudora cooperative at these meetings, was aimed at calling the villagers for more active participation in settling the problems of home villages, in particular, with the help of Komi Voytyr conferences and other chances given by public organizations. Alina told the Vashka inhabitants about the activity of Agroudora’s Glotovo branch, about the opportunities provided by the cooperative that invites people from the Vashka villages participate in it.
The hottest discussions, to our opinion, were raised by the presentation from Natalya Vurdova, senior state inspector of the Udora district department of state supervision, surveillance and protection of aquatic bioresources. She spoke about new fishery rules for the northern fishery area and the way they are actually observed. Now, people in Chuprovo, Vazhgort and Pochkoma know what violation of such rules may bring.
In general, the meetings held showed that the residents of remote populated areas, with no adequate road network, nor telephone communication, are poorly informed about their rights, nor do they know anything about their obligations or legal capacities to participate in the process of forest and river management and economic activity at the river. Therefore, Silver Taiga will continue arranging such meetings with the local population under its projects.