Socio-ecological Union

The Newsletter of
the Socio-Ecological Union
A Center for Coordination
and Information

Moscow, Russia -- Issue 9(07), September/October, 1999












  Lidia Popova, our colleague and friend won of "The nuclear free future award" in the nomination the "Resistance award" presented at the Third Annual Gathering for Mother Earth.
  This is the result of her work within the SEU Center for Nuclear Ecology and Energy Policy. Lidia Popova physicist and green activist knows that those who say, "No, this must stop," must also offer an alternative way.
  In 1990, following the meltdown of the Soviet Union and the structural liberalization that ensued, Lydia became the coordinator of SEU (Alternative Energy Program); in 1992 she founded and became the director of the Center for Nuclear Ecology and Energy Policy, an autonomous division of SEU This distinguished nuclear physicist has repeatedly, in important national and international media, published articles informing the public about the dangers of nuclear energy She regularly organizes press conferences and briefings for journalists and gives interviews to national and international newspapers and news agencies. Together with Alexey Yablokov, a former Advisor to President Yeltsin for Environmental Policy, she ˝ţ authored the book, Plutonium in Russia At forums in Russia, America, England and Japan, she has spoken out on the dangers issuing from the global plutonium economy, and sketched the areas of deadly overlap between the atom's military and so-called "peaceful" uses.
  Owing to her competence as a nuclear physicist, Lydia is the key resource person in the Russian grassroots anti-nuclear scene; her office is the hub of a nuclear watchdog network made up of over 250 organizations. Lydia is on the Board of Directors of the Center for Energy Efficiency based in Moscow. She is also a member of the International Advisory Board of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Energy, and Environment in Germany At such Washington, D.C nuclear think tanks as the Nuclear Control Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and the Natural Resources Defense Council, she also plays advisory roles. Throughout the world Lydia qualifies as one of the few leading anti-nuclear spokespeople who, arguing at the highest scientific level, can forcefully carry a debate.

  For contacts:


  The Biological Farming Association "Elkana" is a non-governmental Georgian organisation founded by Georgia Green Movement in 1993. As a non-governmental organisation "Elkana" was registered on October 6, 1994, since 1996 is a member of the International Federation of Organic Movement (IFOAM).

  Our Main Objectives
  * assist the sustainable development of Georgia agriculture
  * promote creation of social-economically sustainable organic farms in Georgia
  * care for improvement of living conditions in rural areas by stimulating self-help processes in Georgian villages
  We try to pursue these aims through an extension service for farmers, public work and lobbying and also through specially created service for village development program. Besides "Elkana" was an initiator of agrobiodiversity protection and sustainable use in Georgia and helped with credits those farmers who decided to follow organic farming principles. "Elkana" has developed organic agricultural standards for Georgia and now we plan to organize independent certification and marketing services for organic products.

  Our Establishment
  Collapse of 70 years old Soviet regime, during which people got used to centralized management of big Soviet farms, since 1990 resulted in total ruin of agricultural sector in Georgia. Civil wars and refugee problems had also plaid an important role. In a state of total disorder, market and investment structures of farming came to a complete breakdown, equipment and machinery being almost entirely plundered and out of order. The centralized supply was ruined and village dwellers were left without food and money. In cities the situation was similar or even worse. Foreign humanitarian aid provided only minimal support for the population.
  During this period the Biological Farming Association "Elkana" was founded in order to improve economical conditions of small farmers. Founders of the organization were Georgian Green Movement and 9 peasant farms.
  Step by step situation in Georgia is getting stabilized, however the problem of Abkhazeti remains unsolved. Besides, the level of unemployment is still very high and salaries are so low that could not provide minimal livelihood; energy supply is not stable and still there is a lack of tools conducting adopted regulations in life.
  The association for today unites more than 100 farmers, 5 Diocese and 3 Monastery farms (with an area of about 1 000 ha).
  "Elkana" has founded the fund "Ziari" - with the aim to help organic farmers or farmer unions through credits in order to become self-sufficient.
  "Elkana" is one of the founders of the Agrobiodiversity Protection Society "Dika" aiming to help the preservation and sustainable use of the local crop diversity. For today "Dika" works with more than 20 members of "Elkana" and carries out in situ (on farm) conservation of over 100 local crop varieties, which have particular organic farming importance or could be marketed well.
  Besides, "Elkana" has founded an experimental-demonstrative organic farm (BIOME 96) and a greenhouse center for ornamental floriculture (BIMEP). Above-mentioned organizations and "Elkana" maintain tight cooperation and coordination.

  Basic Goals of "Elkana" are:
  * Extension service for organic farmers - our consultants regularly visit association farms and consider problems of organic farming with the respective farmers. For us is of importance to unite organic farmers spread in whole Georgia. Farmers' Days are conducted regularly on selected farms.
  Besides organic farming courses thematic seminars for our farmers on different problems of agriculture are being held.
  * Farmers regularly receive "Advisory hand outs" compiled by extension workers. Besides we publish a journal "Biofarmer" and brochures on topical interests (biogas, soil fertility, compost, etc.).
  * Special extension service for rural development - in preliminary selected regions we try to promote local population and search for self-reliant ways for sustainable development of villages. A special working-group applies participatory methods.
  Not only is the group able to analyze overall situation (social, economical and historical contexts, traditions, etc.) in a village, but to help rural population in realizing existent problems as well. In case of necessity the group assists them to implement projects developed themselves. In some villages this, strange for Georgia, technique has already achieved certain results. For example, through own efforts people from two mountainous villages were able to rebuild impassible roads so, that cars can move there even in winter.
  * Public relations and lobbying - in order to rise public awareness we hold seminars on organic farming, sustainable development and actual environmental problems (for example, about uncontrolled release of GMOs, etc.) for policy makers and other target groups as well. On matters of topical interests we conduct regular radio transmissions and telecasts, publish articles in newspapers. We defend organic farmers' rights in governmental structures and try to influence, in a positive way, laws, that have to be adopted.
  "Elkana" is working by the aid and grants of foreign organizations. The main partners of the association are the German organizations "MISEREOR" and "DIAKONISCHES WERK", also TACIS and FoE.
  Members of the association are farmers from the whole Georgia.

  Key Home Products:
  fresh fruit and vegetables; grains, tea, sunflower oil; wine and grape products; honey; meat and milk products; eggs and mushrooms.
  Staff - consists of 12 persons

   Address: Delisi III , nakveti N16; 380077, Tbilisi Georgia
  Phone: + 995 32 5364-84; -85; -87; -88
  Fax: + 995 32 -536484


   *Georgia is situated between ranges of Greater and Lesser Caucasus - with the area of 69 7000sq. km. and about 5 million population. On the whole, Georgia is a mountainous country. Landscape and climatic zones here change at every step. In the north Georgia borders upon Russia, in the east - Azerbaijan and in the south - Armenia and Turkey. From the west it is surrounded by the Black Sea.


  In 1994, the Amur Program of SEU received financial support from Pop Group Corporation (Japan) and the International Crane Foundation for a 50-year land lease of 5,206.7 hectares of wetlands and arable lands. After numerous negotiations with local authorities, a Contract was signed to establish the first privately operated nature reserve in Russia, the Muraviovka Park. The park, located in the heart of the "bread basket" of the Russian Far East, is one of the most important breeding areas and stopovers for rare species of cranes.
  The Amur Program of the SEU was founded in 1991 to demonstrate that the Amur River Basin could be developed in a way that benefits people, economy and wildlife. This vision included establishment of network of core protected areas, development of environmentally sound and sustainable economic activities, public participation in land use planning for the region, and support of conservation organizations and targeted education programs.
  To understand the environmental and human problems, and to find alternative ways for economic development of this unique area, in 1992 the Amur Program organized the International Workshop "Cranes and Storks of the Amur River Basin." The workshop initiated a number of projects on biological diversity conservation, establishment of new protected territories, designation of Ramsar sites, environmental education, sustainable development, international cooperation in migratory birds protection, and stimulated the NGO movement.
  From-1992-1998 the Amur Program also accomplished the following:
  organized International workshop "Cranes and Storks of The Amur", Ecoforum, a training school on controlled burning, and censuses and banding of endangered birds;
  organized 6 environmental summer camps for students and teachers in Amur, Khabarovsk! and Primorski regions; regular classes in schools around Muraviovka park; training for teachers and educators in the Park as well as in the USA; travelling wildlife photographic and art exhibits;
  published educational materials, as well as a book of stories about wildlife for children and youth, the Red Data Book of the Amur Region, and Proceedings of the 1992 International Workshop;
   developed pen pal exchange between students of the Russian Far East and the USA;
   built the house in Muraviovka with living facilities for staff and visitors, and also the Education Center for teachers and children
   in 1998 eighty hectares of fallow fields were cleaned from weeds ten times during the season, another 100 hectares were developed and 120 tons of soybeans were grown.
  An important event of 1998 was the creation of "Friends of Muraviovka Park" - an organization of park supporters, initiated by the American teachers who participated in the 1994-1997 summer camps.

  Current activities:
  Since 1994 Muraviovka park has distributed seeds of vegetables that became an important source of food and income for local people.
  Since 1994 the park has also given essential support to hospitals, schools, libraries and orphanages, covered expenses for training, education and vacations that have improved very much relations with local people. Local children are happy of being involved into the park activities.
  Since 1997 Muraviovka has Demonstration Farm, the main efforts of those who work in it were devoted to cleaning fields from weeds and preparing a newly obtained piece of land for organic and low chemical use farming and introduction of a new seed varieties.
  Several scientific researches take place in Muraviovka. The Amur Program in cooperation with the Wild Bird Society of Japan, International.Crane Foundation and scientists from Japan and Korea are working on a Crane Research Book to help field biologists of East Asian Crane Site Network. Researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences have recently completed a description of plant communities and collected a herbarium of plants of Muraviovka Park and its watershed.
  Wildlife and wetlands management activities are also conducted in Muraviovka. Such as reforestation project which Muraviovka received about 300 seedlings for from the Amur Regional Hunting Service. Then the Amur Program gave US $ 1,000 to the Regional Game Service to help in protecting Muraviovka Game Refuge.
  In September, 1999 the park hosted the first International Symposium "East Asian Crane Site Network". Over 50 crane researchers, game managers, and officials from the Russian Far East, China, Korea, Japan and USA exchanged information about the current status of cranes, discussed the opportunities for cooperation in crane research and protection, and established the Crane Working Group of East Asia.
  Muraviovka is the oasis of life in far Far East of Russia. You are welcome to help this small sustainable community to grow and develop.

  You can send tax deductible donations to support Friends ofMuraviovka Park. Please make checks out to the International Crane Foundation, P.O. Box 447, ┼-11375, Shady Lane Road, Baraboo, WI 53913, USA, and indicate the donation is for Friends of Muraviovka Park. Contributions will...
  Give children from local villages and orphanages the opportunity to attend summer camp
  Hire orphanage graduates as summer interns
  Purchase educational materials, and fire equipment
  Help plant lure crop to keep cranes in the park

  Sergei M. Smirenski
  Muraviovka, Tambovski District
  Amur Region
  676964 Russia

  Jim Harris, Elena Smirenski Muraviovka Park
  International Crane Foundation
  P.O. Box 447, ┼-11376 Shady Lane Road
  Baraboo, Wisconsin 53913 USA
  Tel.608/3 56-9462, ext. 129 or 130;
  fax: 608/356-9465


  Tambov region is situated in the South-West of Russia. In the past Tambov used to be famous part of Russia for its ferocious soil.
  Tambov ecological movement (TEM) started its activities in 1989 within the historical society "Memorial" one of its leaders was Tambov Mayer V.Koval' (recently died). Today it is the big public movement which involves the regional branch of the Unit "For Chemical Safety", Ecological Safety Foundation, Tambovschina Educational Center, Ecohouse project, Ecotourism initiative and some others.
  During its first decade of work the Tambov movement inspired a lot of changes in the regional ecological policy. Tambov greens introduced Ecological commission into the Citizen Deputy Council, they set up the Municipal sanitary commission.
  TEM projects:
  "Radioactive contamination"
  TEM members revealed the secret files about the radioactive contamination in Tambov region after Chernobyl and published in the regional newspaper a map indicating the areas and levels of radiation. After that one of the most polluted areas Petrovskiy got special status of the ecological disaster area.
  TEM founded the Cancer Center in the town of Michurinsk. In cooperation with the Regional Center of Emergency and Civil Defense TEM is researching radioactive contamination in the region.
  "Clean city"
  On the base of the Municipal sanitary commission the Municipal Sanitary Rules and Rules of domestic animals treatment were worked out by TEM. Now Tambov is one of the cleanest cities of Russia.
  TEM is also focusing on the municipal waste management issues. Tambov greens are now going to launch the project of environmentally sound waste utilization.
  TEM is also working over the planting program aimed to make Tambov not only clean but also green city.
  TEM has environment monitoring project and now is going to launch the public information service.

  "Ecological housing"
  In one of the old mansions TEM members manage restoration activities. The goal of the project is to improve old facilities designed in the past as energy efficient building with organic waste recycling. The village where this mansion is situated is now developing in more sustainable way with the assistance of TEM experts.

  "Ecological education"
  TEM created children ecological theater, which won a Russian youth theater contest prize.
  TEM published the book "Tambov history and Ecology"
  TEM organized national conference "Sustainable City"
  TEM also established several public resource centers in the region.


  The public campaign of the SEU of the North-West Caucasus against the industry lobbyists in the nature reserve is having success The Procurator of Adygeya (as he recently informed North - West Caucasus branch of the SEU) issued the order to stop the project of the road Lagonaki-Dagomys in Russian Caucasus because it violated federal and regional laws of Russia. "But authorities of Adygeya didn't not give up with this road and they would likely try to continue their destructive project", - says Andrey Rudomakha, coordinator of Caucasus branch of the SEU.
  The road Lagonaki-Dagomys is planned over the Lagonaki plateau and Caucasian Biosphere Reserve highland area - this means heavy use of explosives to make the road across the mountains, not to mention "regular" construction related works and traffic of the construction machinery. The impact of such activities on the protected nature complex hardly needs explanation. Plus to this UNESCO is considering option of placing the North Caucasus (North -East Black Sea region) on the World Heritage list. The area planned for nomination includes the Sochi National Park and the Caucasus Biosphere reserve (situated mostly in Krasnodar region and Adugeya republic). Indeed, the proposed area is a habitat for more than six thousand animal and plant species, many of them are endemic (unique).
  Adygeya authorities (republic where the Lagonaki plateau is situated) are not excited about being part of the World Heritage. Instead, they are pushing ahead the project of the highway that would become the major obstacle for the area to be included into the World Heritage.
  The North - West Caucasus of the SEU, strongly supported by local population, has been campaigning against the project for several months including the actions against the road that were held by SEU within the framework of all - Europe Transport Action Day, held by ASEED. Lately 42 academics filed in petition to different related authorities opposing the road construction. Thousands of local people signatures were gathered protesting the project, numerous actions were held, dozens of publications appeared in the media. The people outrage with the project, together with desire to protect their nature heritage, has also a legal basis - the road construction is illegal according to different Russian laws. Local government insists on highway construction hoping to attract traffic flow through the republic. In officials' opinion, benefits from the traffic outweigh the benefits of having internationally protected nature area. Up to day the major attraction for people was unique nature of the region. It is highly questionable if anyone will be attracted to stop and see gas stations and fast-food services instead of wildlife.

  Independent Ecological Service of North-West Caucasus


  Natural complex of Sukpay that was planned as a part of new nature reserve in the Far East will be completely destroyed by logging activities planned by Malasia Company Rimbunan Hidjau. That is the conclusion made by the experts of Socio-Ecological Union, Taiga Guardian and Biodiversity Conservation Center during their expedition to Khabarovsk region. This trip was a part of the campaign against this project that started two years ago. In 1998 Russian activists launched international fax-protests to local Administration. The goal of the action was to urge the local Administration to promote the establishment of the Upper Sukpay zapovednik but it was ignored by the authorities.
  The construction of the road Sukpay-Nelma 4 km of which has already been built by Malaysian loggers means the beginning of the industrial opening of the last undisturbed forests of Khabarovsk and Primorie regions. It will result in decreasing of the population of large vertebrates like Amur leopard and tiger and fragmentation of the unique entire natural complex into many non-valuable parts. Trees harvesting in Sukpay will destroy the traditional life style of indigenous people who depend on the non-timber forest products and fishing. According to the analysis made by our experts logging business in Sukpay is getting cost ineffective if the company pays all ecological fees and invests to the local economy. It is clear that the only way for Rimbunan to make profit in the region is to ignore all compensation payments. The construction of the road mentioned above is already done without environment assessment requiered by the law.
  It is very likely now that local people in the nearest future will face first results of the Malasyan project as they will lose their food sources and habitat they used to live in for ages.
  At the moment of our experts visit, the company did not started development of the area under longterm lease. However, the company got 7 additional plots for logging in kvartal (usual forest unit in Russia) No.536 and now performs logging and constructs a road there. At the same time, according to information from the local branches of the Forest Service (leskhoz), Rimbunan Hijau is planning serious logging (150,000 cu.m) at the longterm leased area already this year. People in the leskhoz told that they are overloaded with allocation of the required amount of logging plots for Rimbunan Hijau. Next year the company is planning to reach harvesting level of 300,000 cu.m per year. There is information that Rimbunan Hijau also has plans for development of still untouched forests in the Samarga Watershed (Primorskiy Krai).

  Malaysian company Rimbunan Hidjau Int. in 1997 won the right for the long term 49 year rent of Sikhotte Alin forests on a square of 305,000 ha with a right for annual cut of 550,000 cubic meters of timber.
  Existing forests of upper Sukpai, which are planned to be logged by Rimbunan had been protected in early 90-th as Verkhne-Sukpaiskii zakaznik (refuge), and then environmental community succeed to include prospective of strengthening it's status into governmental decree and create Verkhne-Sukpaiskii zapovednik (nature preserve). But, before its justification had been done by local scientists, Khabarovskii governor Victor Ishaev managed to attract Rimbunan Hijau corporation to develop industrial logging enterprise on the same territory. To change ideology from preserve to logging fast, scientists and officials decided publicly to base upon the fires.
  60 % of Sukpai forests are located in any sort of protected zone by Russian regulation. That are water protecting zones along creeks and rivers, a set of banned species, where its prohibited to log. General elevation is around 1300 - 1500 m, so that are most mountain type of forests, which needs specifically careful approach in terms of logging. Also, a big amount of these forests are located on the steep slopes over 30 degree, which are prohibited for logging completely. So, there are much less timber available for industrial cut, than it was promised to Rimbunan.

  For contacts:
  Michael Karpachevsky
  Dmitry Aksenov


  Bellona publicized the problems, Norway gives money for the solution
  Thanks to Bellona, Two Norway-sponsored radwaste management projects completed in north-west Russia this fall. They were aimed to upgrade radiation safety at naval sites in north-west Russia. Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister, Jarle Skj°restad, toured Murmansk and Severodvinsk to inspect the progress. Nuclear problems of the Northern Fleet became know after the publication of the Report "The Russian Northern Fleet. Sources of Radioactive contamination" prepared by Bellona Foundation. One of the authors Alexander Nikitin after that was arrested and charged of treason.

  Trench in Andreeva Bay
  The first project was designed to stop a brook from streaming through an old storage building for spent nuclear fuel located in Andreeva Bay, Kola Peninsula. The brook was carrying radioactivity out into the Litsa Fjord. In Andreeva Bay there is the largest and the only operational storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in the Northern Fleet. The important thing here is that during this project it was decided to transfer the Navy's radwaste site under the supervision of the Russian Minister for Atomic Energy by the end of 1999, early 2000. This timeframe is, however, highly questioned by both Russians and Westerners involved into nuclear clean-up projects in Russia.

  Liquid waste tanks commissioned in Severodvinsk
  The second project was in Severodvinsk where one of the Norwegian companies was managing a project to upgrade the so-called 'object 159' at Zvezdochka shipyard in Severodvinsk. The object consists of two type A-02 tanks for low-active liquid waste, each with a capacity of 500 cubic meters. The tanks are located near the planned liquid waste processing facility and will serve as a buffer. The upgrade began in May 1998 and was completed as planned in August this year. Norway used $4,3 million on the project.

  For contacts:
  Alexander Nikitin


  Russian anti-nuclear campaigners continue their battle to prevent the completion of the Rostov Nuclear Power Plant, under construction in southern Russia. The public environment assessment conducting by SEU experts and other activists has started recently. Before this ecological activists broke through a lot of nuclear lobbyist's enemy lines for this public investigation become possible.
  The regional authorities intend to keep constructing the plant, which had been stopped as a result of a social protest campaign in 1990-1992. Rostov plant is not aimed at the regional consumers, energy demand there is covered by the existing facilities. Rostov Plant design characteristics are ecologically unsound, the area of the construction is absolutely unfitted for such a facility. Plus to this NPP is planned to build right near the town of Volgodonsk while such objects must be located many miles distant from the places where people live. The EIA conclusions that were made under the pressure of nuclear lobbyists expired in 1998.
  The campaign against the Rostov NPP has attracted wide attention in Russia, when pro-nuclearthugs staged a brutal attack on protesters blockading a road to the construction site in the summer of 1996-1997. But the ecologists still manage to make the local administration not to resume the construction works. At the moment the main public goal is to prove that Rostov NPP is dangerous, ecologically and economically unsound project.

  For contacts:
  Vladimir Lagutov, "Green Don"


  Student Nature Guard "BARS (Pantera)" was created in 1998 in Amur region by the local students. Members of BARS in their work mostly focuses on the poachers detain and ecological education activities.
  In 1999 they organized the patrolling of the hunting area in Amur region, conducted biodiversity level estimating activities in 7 areas. BARS rangers arranged several field trips to the nature reserves in order to research the status of the population of rare species and progress in biodiversity conservation management there.
  BARS actively participates in "The Snowdrop" campaign for the protection of Red Book primary spring species from flower wholesalers. BARS also contributed to "The Spruce" annual action against New Year trees illegal logging.
  BARS has already become known in the region among local people. According to the results of the opinion poll conducted by local sociologists among the visitors of the regional NGO's Fair, "BARS" is on the second position in the list of well-known organizations.

  For contacts:

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