Celebrating the nature of the Baltic region at this year’s special European Green Belt Day

On September 21 2019, Ecocentrum and Friends of the Baltic celebrated this year’s 30th anniversary of the European Green Belt with an exciting Ecotrip along the Southern shore of the Gulf of Finland.

Ecotrip participants are celebrating 30 years European Green Belt at the Gulf of Finland © Anna Kriukova, Ecocetrum Ltd

With the aim to increase public awareness and knowledge about the EGB initiative and its vision as well as to improve cross-border exchange and cooperation the European Green Belt Days between September 18 – 24 are a special event each year. One of many events along the Green Belt during this period was the Ecotrip along the Southern shore of the Gulf of Finland to demonstrate not only the Russian part of the Baltic Green Belt, but also the conservation of biodiversity in the Baltic Sea coastal zone. Residents of Saint-Petersburg and Leningrad region – teachers, students, activists of environmental organizations joined in and walked along the clusters of the South Shore of the Neva Bay nature reserve as part of the Baltic Green Belt. During the excursion, potential territories for the development of coastal recreational zones were visited. Participants learned about the European Green Belt Initiative, the Baltic Green Belt as part of it and they familiarized themselves with the history and nature of the Znamenka, Sobstvennaya Dacha and Kronstadt Colony clusters of nature reserve. These are especially valuable and preserved natural areas along the coast of the Neva Bay running from Strelna to Lomonosov city and that have been combined into one reserve since 2013. Coastal areas with reed and cane thickets are places of concentration of waterfowl and near-water birds in migratory sites. Small-leaved forests as well as meadow communities also grow in the reserve and sections of ancient parks with broad-leaved plantations are preserved.

In Lomonosov, the “Yantar” area was visited, which was artificially created by backfilling parts of the Gulf of Finland water area on the site for the proposed, but not completed construction of the port by “Yantar” company. The abandoned area of more than 4 hectares has no conservation status. It is overgrown with trees and shrubs, has a clean sandy beach and is used by residents as a spontaneous recreational area. During the Ecotrip, the possibilities of creating a recreational zone at the “Yantar” site were discussed with the residents of Lomonosov town. Marine spatial planners presented potential directions for the development of this recreation area. Both local residents and Ecotrip participants supported the initiatives and made suggestions, for example walking green zones for people of different age or entertaining zones for children and youth. Architects and designers are interested in the sustainable development of the site and local municipals support this idea.

The NGO Friends of the Baltic is a public environmental organization that originated on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland in 1997. Its activities focus on the south shore of the Gulf of Finland and are dedicated to environmental education and bringing people together for nature conservation. This Ecotrip aimed for people to understand the common nature values, and feel our environment as being a part of the bigger system – the European Green Belt.

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