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New Map Shows Ecological Blackspots

Published: November 21, 2012 (Issue # 1736)



  • Dozens of complaints have already been submitted to the website, mostly over water pollution and illegal garbage sites.
    Photo: ALEXANDER BELENKY / SPT

A new online environmental monitoring project aims to fight corruption and challenge the regional authorities. Conceived by the Russian Geographic Society together with RIA-Novosti news agency, the nationwide multimedia project is titled “The Ecological Map of Russia.”

The detailed map was launched in October and can be viewed at http://ria.ru/ecorating. Updated round the clock seven days a week, it allows environmentalists in each region to draw attention to ecological blackspots as well as unfolding disasters. Internet users can post information about accidents, pollution, illegal garbage sites and violations of environmental laws on the website, and also upload photos and videos as proof of their allegations.

“It is not uncommon for regional authorities to ignore people’s complaints for ages and stick their letters in a pile in their offices,” said Lina Zernova, editor-in-chief of the Ecology and Law environmental magazine, speaking at the project’s presentation on Monday.

Reports from green-minded members of the public complement the basic data that is collected by the project’s organizers, whose aim is to create a rating of the Russian regions. To award a position in the rating, experts assess a range of factors affecting the state of the environment, including air and water pollution, changing ecosystems, the production and treatment of industrial waste, environmental protection efforts, accountability by local business communities and the endangered status and extinction of animal species.

Pressure groups across Russia have welcomed the initiative as encouraging transparency and igniting public debate on environmental issues.

“The map makes it possible to make a region’s problems very visual: Locations of major accidents or very polluted areas will turn red at high speed if activists submit their reports,” Zernova said. “The officials in these regions will have a hard time explaining why they have been lax in dealing with these issues. I am convinced this project has huge potential, and could really improve the situation.”

Dozens of reports have already been submitted to the website. Most of the complaints regard illegal garbage sites and water pollution.

Environmental non-governmental organizations say that the map, if regularly and thoroughly updated, could create a substantial and sweeping impression of the ecological situation in Russia.

“Many ordinary Russians are not even aware of the existence of certain towns where people suffer from devastating environmental disasters,” said Yevgeny Schwartz, director of environmental protection policies at the Russian branch of the World Wildlife Foundation. “Having reviewed the first wave of complaints, we can easily see some of the ailing issues that exist across the country, such as, the rampant destruction of forest and other green areas in order to vacate space for expensive construction projects,” he said.

Sergei Vinogradov, chairman of the Green Front ecological non-governmental organization, said the map would enable regional environmental activists to join forces, helping ordinary people to find solutions and win victories.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Nov. 28


Join table-top game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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