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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

Saturday, Nov. 22


Russian Premier League-leaders Zenit St. Petersburg return from the international break to take on Kuban Krasnodar at Petrovsky Stadium this evening at 7 p.m. Tickets for the game can still be purchased on the club’s website, at the Petrovsky Stadium box office or in any of the club’s merchandise stores.



Sunday, Nov. 23


Get in the holiday spirit at today’s Winter Bazzar at the Astoria Hotel. Featuring gifts from around the world such as French eclairs, Dutch cheeses and Indian jewelry, the annual event organized by the International Women’s Club will feature 18 international stands and raise money for charity through the sales of a diversity of products that further illustrate the city’s international connections.



Monday, Nov. 24


Dr. Axel Schulte, Department Head at Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics in Dortmund, Germany, is the featured speaker at the SPIBA Industrial Committee lecture on “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Digitalization of the Supply Chain.” The event begins at 4 p.m. at the Graduate School of Management at 3 Volkohvsky Pereulok and registration is required by Nov. 21 either by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.



Tuesday, Nov. 25


Tag along with AmCham during their “Industrial St. Petersburg” Tour program today. This incarnation of the ongoing series will visit Philip Morris Izhora and include an Environmental Health and Safety Committee meeting.


Find out how to expand your business east during the “Business With China” forum beginning today and concluding tomorrow at the Lenexpo convention center. The largest Russian forum dedicated to business with the Asian giant, topics that will be discussed include logistics, customs clearance, trade financing and many more.



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