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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 peoples 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 projects presentation on Monday.

Reports from green-minded members of the public complement the basic data that is collected by the projects 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 regions 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

Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during todays Djembe and Vuvuzela, a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of todays round table discussion on Interaction with Trade Unions being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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