A group of Udora residents interested in rural tourism development in own district visited some villages along the Pinega river in Pinega district of the adjacent Arkhangelsk region, where rural area development has long been associated with the local initiatives support and rural tourism promotion.
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.
A field trip to Ust-Kulom district under the Assessing Long-Term Logging Impact on Water Resources project took place from 18 to 26 July. The trip aimed at studying the condition of minor rivers pressed by long-term wood cutting at catchment basins.
The environmental experts from the Silver Taiga foundation focused on the basins of the Prupt and Voch rivers, tributaries of the Northern Keltma, which flows into the Vychegda. The area to be explored was selected as the river’s catchment basins included both old logging sites and the ones recently exposed to logging activities, so they helped to embrace the long-term impact on aquatic resources.
The previous field trip enabled identification of the so-called “focal points” – the sections of the rivers where water samples were taken to test turbidity, and benthos samples were collected for rapid assessment of aquatic environment based on the method proposed by our Polish colleagues during the experience exchange visit in May. Such techniques will later support assessing logging impact on rivers and their tributaries. For instance, increased turbidity and changed silt composition serve as main indicators of significant logging exposure at the catchment basin area.
As Alexander Borovlyov, the field trip facilitator, the trip was successful, the objectives set were 90% fulfilled. Luckily, no serious challenges were faced. The weather was just fine to allow all the activities to be implemented. Now it is the time to review the field data collected.
Photos from Silver Taiga’s archive
The final advanced FSC certification course – the last of the series of FSC consultant trainings arranged under the joint project of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF Russia) and the FSC Russian National Office (FSC Russia) – was held in Arkhangelsk region in June-July. The classes covered the topics of biodiversity preservation, forestry management in unique karst landscapes, the EIA procedure, cooperation with stakeholders, and others. That time, the participants were not divided into two groups, but were trained together as a team.
The Summer Ichthyological School was arranged from June 18 to 26 in the village of Bolshaya Pyssa, Udora district, under the Model River Mezen project jointly with the Usogorsk Children’s Activity Center with the involvement of the Republic Center of Specially Protected Natural Areas. The School welcomed kids from various residential areas, such as Usogorsk, Syktyvkar, Bolshaya Pyssa and Yb. 17 people in total, including four adults and 13 schoolchildren, participated in the School’s activities.
An international expedition to the central part of the Verkhne-Vashka Intact Forest Massif – some of the remaining vast intact landscape still preserved in the middle subzone of the European taiga, was arranged by the Silver Taiga Foundation from 6 to 17 June 2016. The expedition aimed at scientific justification of organizing a Specially Protected Natural Area (SPNA) in the basin of the Osa, the Vashka river tributary (see the map below).
Silver Taiga Director Yury Pautov took part in the 4th Nordic Ruralities Conferenceheld on May 22-24 in the University of Akureyri town, Iceland.
The Nordic Ruralities Conference is an interdisciplinary forum for rural research with a particular emphasis on the Nordic countries.
Silver Taiga representatives arranged a three-day FSC certification training course for the employees of SevLesPil.
The workshop participants extended their knowledge with regard to FSC requirements. In particular, one of the classes conducted by the environmental expert Nikolay Shilov was focused on recommendations for the Red Book species habitat preservation.
With regard to the trip to Poland the Foundation’s experts were focused on two key objectives – to learn about the methods of aquatic ecosystem assessment used in the country and to study the experience of fishery resource management. Both tasks are relevant for efficient implementation of Silver Taiga’s projects aimed at building sustainable management of rivers and river resources.
Model River Mezen Working Group is appealing to the public to report any cases of new unrepresentative fish species found in the catchment.
Rational management of any resource implies continuous collection of data on its condition, or monitoring. Unfortunately, monitoring of the fish population in the Mezen river is far from being sufficient due to a number of reasons, including shortage of funds, lack of people, and others. Theoretically, you need to assess quality and quantity indicators, such as species composition of the fish community in each water body, population size of each species, migration patterns, age-sex pattern of each species, infestation intensity and extensity. It is absolutely necessary to monitor the condition and accessibility of spawning grounds for various species with various needs, since some of them want drowned plants and slow water flow, others need shingle and strong flow, and so on. The food potential and negative environmental impact on aquatic ecosystems are also relevant to be estimated. All in all, it is evident that such a short list of actions required implies high costs, which can only get paid back at frequently visited fishery plots.
The river’s species composition is not constant – from time to time some species disappear for reasons attributable to human activity or natural causes, while other species settle in the river. The Mezen river accounts for 31 species from 14 fish and fish-like vertebrate families, with 15 species out of them being registered to inhabit the upper reach (upstream the village of Ust-Kym). 7 other species were recorded based on the evidence from fishermen or other sources.
The complete list of the Mezen river fish species is given in the table below.
|Species||Mezen river basin||Upper reach|
|Siberian brook lamprey||+||?|
|Bearded stone loach||+||+|
‘+’ – the species is recorded in the upper reach of the Mezen river
‘–’ – the species is not recorded in the upper reach of the Mezen river
‘?’ – the species are mentioned to be noticed in the upper reach of the Mezen river
Occasionally, we find information about new species caught in the Mezen. For instance, we have been told this year that bull-trout was found in the middle reaches of the Mezen. Some species like humpback salmon got into the river from the sea, others may have been let out there by aquarians, which is considered illegal introduction; in addition there are other ways to get into the river.
We invite you to inform us, if you happen to learn about any cases of catching untypical species in the Mezen. It will be especially useful for us to get the following data: date and time of the catchment, exact location (GPS coordinates are welcome), fishing gear, fish size and weight, hard or soft roe present, pictures attached. It is extremely desirable for you to state your contact details in case we want to check up on the information.