Ramsar Advisory Mission arrived with environmental inspection to Kurgalsky Peninsula Nature Reserve

On November 12, 2019 experts from the Coalition Clean Baltic (CCB), Greenpeace Russia, WWF Russia, the Public Council of the South Coast of the Gulf of Finland and other environmental organizations met with the representatives of the Ramsar Advisory Mission (RAM), Nord Stream 2 AG, the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation, etc. 

The reason for the arrival of RAM is the complaint of the environmental community about the natural ecosystems conditions in the passageway of the gas pipeline NS-2.

Photo by the author. Foreword A. Filippova before the presentation of the environmental community
Photo by the author. Representatives of authorities, business, the public at the “round table” talks

The RAM team will focus prominently on these issues:

  1.  Assess possible effects of the trench box pipeline construction method across the onshore part (sandy beach, swamp forest, relict dune, peat bog dome) and the offshore pipeline laying in the shallow waters, notably regarding possible habitat alterations, disturbance to habitats and species, spread of invasive species, alteration of bog hydrology and related possible ecological changes. 
  2. Review and evaluate the environmental monitoring programme for the operational phase of the pipeline, developed and implemented by the constructor.
Photo by the author. Some issues of the Ramsar Advisory Mission in the Kurgalsky Peninsula nature reserve

3. Evaluate the measures proposed by the pipeline constructor as part of its Biodiversity Action Plan to support the operations, survey and management of the Kurgalsky Regional State Nature Reserve, including measures to manage tourist and recreational access, increase public awareness on environmental concerns and natural values, and support local education programmes.

4. Make specific recommendations regarding the points listed above, as well as the needs and ways how to improve the scientific knowledge of the Kurgalsky Peninsula and to support and increase together with regional authorities (Committee for Natural Resources of Leningrad Region and Directorate of Specially Protected Natural Areas of Leningrad Region) local capacities and knowhow for sustainable reserve management.

The environmental community and scientific experts were notified of the meeting a few days before it. Therefore, it was necessary to cooperate as soon as possible, jointly determine the most important points of the report on the conditions, violations and acute problems in the Kurgalsky Peninsula nature reserve.

We managed to divide the report into three blocks and made an extremely intelligible, logically structured presentation:

The current impact of the gas pipeline on natural ecosystems and advisory measures to minimize it (speaker — Anastasia Filippova, regional expert, Greenpeace Russia);

Photo by the author. A. Filippova reports the first part of a joint presentation of the environmental community

General problems of the Kurgalsky Peninsula nature reserve (speaker — Anna Loseva, theriologist, CCB expert);

Photo by the author. A. Loseva highlights other pressing issues of the Kurgalsky Peninsula nature reserve

The general situation with the development of the Russian coast of the Gulf of Finland in the Russian Federation and recommendations on the ecological development of the territory (speaker — Evgeny Usov, press secretary of Greenpeace Russia).

Photo by the author. E. Usov tells RAM representatives about the general ecological situation in the Russian part of the Gulf of Finland

On November 13, representatives of RAM were taken to the place of the gas pipeline NS-2 and in the village Bolshoe Kuzemkino to meet with locals. As we learned from verified sources, the delegation was met by local deputies. RAM experts were driven along the track and told that «the animals are very satisfied, they have already found a detour.» And «the local population is just so happy that a gas pipeline has appeared — they greet and thank Nord Stream.» As always, «window dressing» …

In any case, the holding of the Ramsar Consultation Mission in the Kurgalsky Peninsula Nature Reserve is a big step forward, and it’s good that Tobias Salathe participated in it (in the center on photo) — senior European adviser to the Ramsar Secretariat, a professional of the highest level, who seeks to solve the challenges constructively.

Photo by the author. Randy Milton and Tobias Salathe are representatives of the Ramsar Advisory Mission

In a few months, RAM will make recommendations to the Russian authorities and the Nord Stream 2 AG company on a further action plan for the conservation of biodiversity in the Ramsar site — Kurgalsky Peninsula Nature Reserve. We are waiting and monitoring the situation.

For the presentation from the environmental community, the Public Council of the South coast of the Gulf of Finland provided photos from the place of the construction of the NordStream2 gas pipeline, made during its annual bike-conference “Our Coast-2019” http://decommission.ru/2019/07/31/velo_2019_itog/

Elizaveta Mikhailova
Project coordinator
Public Council of the south coast of the Gulf of Finland
Participant of the meeting