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BELKINA N.S. "Nature and Youth". Russia

At present time oil and gas complex in our region develops up-tempo. In spite of significant contribution of oil and gas projects in economic development of the region they can pose considerable threat to the environment.

Growing shipping of oil along the northern routes, especially their transshipment in Kola Bay, multiplies pressure on the environment. We should remember that in White Sea hydrocarbons are shipped through the water area of Kandalaksha Reserve. Emergency oil spillage shall have disastrous effects, primarily for rare animal and bird species.

The decision to realize any project posing threat to the environment should not be adopted only ,as it is said, "on a high level". Public participation will make it possible to avoid conflicts between authority, business and population and most importantly prevent realization of environmentally hazardous projects.

Though the right of a citizen to participate in environmentally important decisions is written in the Constitution of Russian Federation, this doesn't increase civil activity. One of the main reason for such attitude is the absence of due informing. Official reports, as a rule, either extremely sophisticated or so vague, that they barely make sense. Mass media is not always ready to pay more attention to this problem.

Often environmental topic occupies front pages of newspapers and prime-time on TV channels only when it is presented in a provocative style. Studying of multi-volume reports on estimation of influence on environment is in the strength of specialists only.

Granting population access to objective information about ecological situation in the region is the key moment of the "Nature and Youth" activity.
"Nature and Youth" is the only youth public ecological organization in the region. It unites students and high school pupils who wish Kola Land to remain suitable for living.

Ecoeducation which is one of the main tasks of "Nature and Youth" is directed at forming ecological personality, when a man possess not only knowledge, but is ready to take part in solving ecological problems.

This program is realized in several directions:
- "Green weeks" - holding meetings with pupils and students, reading lectures about the most actual ecological problems in the region;
- organization of summer ecoeducational camps (e.g. "Oil and future of Murmansk region" in 2005);
- Preparation of seminars and conferences;
- Issue of informational leaflets and brochures. Currently the brochure about development of oil and gas complex in Murmansk region is being prepared, where the most actual problems are given in the "question-answer" form.

Beside education, "Nature and Youth" realizes projects in the sphere environment protection. Recently the work over the project "Estimation of ecological and economic damage in case of emergency oil spillage in the water area of Kandalaksha Reserve" was started.

"Sea is more valuable than oil": "Nature and Youth" organizes actions and campaigns directed at attracting people's attention, cooperates with many organizations that work in the sphere of environment protection.

Members of "Nature and Youth" regularly participate in training of coastal emergency oil spillage liquidation.

"Nature and Youth" believes, that it is easier to prevent emergency, rather than fight with its consequences, thus it stands against environmental hazardous projects. There are no municipal provisions about public disputes on planned economical activity in the framework of state ecological assessment in Murmansk region. This prevents public from taking part in the decision making. Public disputes is the general practice in many regions of Russia. Murmansk region still falls behind.

"We mustn't stay aside" - "Nature and Youth" is ready to assist the increasing public role in taking environmentally important decisions particularly wider participation in ecological control, estimation of projects by means of developing and strengthening public ecological assessment.



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