100:0 IN FAVOR OF BIODIVERSITY
The issues of planning and creation of protected territories were recognized as the most urgent and requiring immediate attention.
"Creating special protection areas is the most effective method to conserve the biological diversity," Irina Onufrenya, SPA project coordinator at WWF Russia, said. "And our country is the leader in creating marine SPAs in the Arctic."
Experts also discussed other important topics such as expansion of cooperation between the countries in studying and protecting marine mammals, as well as adaptation to climate change and radical reduction of soot emissions in the Arctic by imposing a ban on the use of bunker fuel.
At the opening ceremony, the President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, proposed holding a forum of presidents of the Arctic countries in Finland. Among the priority topics, the President of Finland mentioned radical reduction of soot emissions in the Arctic by shifting from soot shipping to LNG shipping and stopping the associated gas flaring.
"For Russia these issues are also of rather high importance," Alexey Knizhnikov, head of FEC environmental policy program, WWF Russia, mentioned. "Bunker fuel oil or marine residual oil (MRO) accounts for about 75% of all fuel used now in the Arctic shipping. Accidental spills of fuel oil cause irreparable damage both to the indigenous people of the Arctic and the marine ecosystems.
The spill of fuel oil as a result of the tanker emergency at the coast of Sakhalin in 2015 once again proved that such threats are serious."
Another important subject addressed by the Congress was the climate. Climate change was discussed at all sessions, not only at those dedicated to this issue. "It is not surprising, as climate today is a new dimension of any environmental challenge," Alexey Kokorin, Director of the Climate and Energy program, WWF Russia, commented. "There is no environmental project in the Arctic that can be launched without regard for the climate change."
According to the expert, the research
presented at the Congress showed that warming in the Arctic is a very complex
process, as there are many back effects and nuances that can either intensify
or mitigate this or that problem.
The report presented by WWF Russia demonstrated that in the Arctic you cannot rely on any trends or forecasts of average temperature growth. "It is crucially important to have information on the expected heat waves, frequency and intensity of abnormally warm seasons," Alexey Kokorin said. "There must be individual forecasts for every Russian region. Our arctic zone is so huge that average values do not have any sense."
It is this kind of information that WWF used in its project for the Conservation of Biodiversity in the Northern Regions of Russia to Achieve CBD Goals Through Extension and Strengthening of a Protected Areas Network Adapted to Climate Change.
The Russian government understands the need for actions to adapt to the climate change: at the meeting of ministers held at the Congress in Rovaniemi, Dmitry Kobylkin, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Russia, pointed out that "soon everyone will feel the climate change". However, despite this change, Dmitry Kobylkin encouraged his listeners to try to keep the "golden mean" between the creation of special protected territories and land development. Ecologists warn: the "golden mean" is not necessarily 50/50, but should be based on scientific analysis, and in the most important areas, preserving biodiversity requires that this proportion tend to 100:0 for the benefit of nature.
Photo in the announcement: (c) Ivan Mizin / WWF Russia