International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE) Russian Chapter
Russian Ministry for Environment and Natural Resources
Irkutsk State University
International Center Baikal Initiative for Analysis of Regions (BINAR)

INTERNATIONAL ECOLOGICAL EXPEDITION
AROUND LAKE BAIKAL

ECOLOGICAL PRESERVATION AND RECREATIONAL USE OF LAKE BAIKAL AND ITS BASIN

July 26 - August 10, 1993

Irkutsk - Lake Baikal, Russia


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LAKE BAIKAL AND ITS PROBLEM

Lake Baikal is the largest fresh water reservoir on our planet. It is a gigantic natural regenerator of the highest quality fresh water, which is expected to become the most important strategic resource in the near future.

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At the same time, this lake is a unique natural complex with outstanding geological and geographical features. In spite of its size (hundreds of kilometers in length and tens of kilometers in width) and the Baikal region great diversity and dynamics of natural processes, the area has always been considered as a single unique system.

Favorable climatic conditions, beauty of landscape the year round, a large amount of medicinal natural springs, beautiful secluded spots favorably influence the psychology of people (the nature of the influence is not yet understood).

All this makes it possible to consider the lake and its surrounding region as the focal point of the richest recreation resources which, when used wisely, may prove to be inexhaustible.


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All of these factors taken together are very valuable for the world community. The lake must be preserved for future generations, it is our responsibility.


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However, because of some historical, political, and cultural circumstances, the way of life and the activity of the people in the Baikal area (the lake basin measures about 500.000 square kilometers and directly influences the life of the lake) does not correspond to the preservation criteria. This creates a threat to lose enormous values of global importance.

Our inefficient administrative-command system is responsible for creating two large paper-and-pulp mills on the Baikal bank and on the bank of its main tributary, the Selenga River. These mills have polluted the atmosphere and water for many years despite all attempts to introduce reliable and effective technical methods of cleaning.

The fight lead by the progressive public for Baikal preservation has already been lasting 30 years. Scientists of the Siberian Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences play an important role in the struggle. However, the problem has not yet been solved despite mountains of papers, which contain various resolutions, scientific investigation results and projects. The Government resolution of 1987 aimed at a radical solution of the problem has not yet been implemented. The Baikal pulp-and-paper mill continues to operate. No definite steps have been made to convert the mill into a furniture factory and wooden house construction factory, and to implement ecologically expedient strategy for the adjoining region development. The administrative-command system, which created the problem, has collapsed, but the mills, which pollute Baikal, remained and continue to exist as a symbol of the backwardness of our society, and of the victory of criminal technocratic mentality.

Another threat to the ecology of Lake Baikal is growing flow of tourism which is often under no conrol, neither planning. This leads to coastal and water pollution and damage to the adjoining forests.


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In the future we shall be able to see whether the last governmental action (the President of Russia Decree on Lake Baikal of 1992) will change the situation in a considerable way.

However, it is clear that the deficit of economic resources for radical changes in the Baikal region (which is connected with present the social-economic crisis in our country) makes it necessary to appeal to the world community to take joint actions for the sake of saving and preserving Baikal.

These appeals have already been heard. A special joint Declaration by the presidents of the US and Russia was signed which promotes cooperation for preserving the environment of Lake Baikal. The immediate result was the support of this expedition by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, its minister, professor Victor Danilov-Danilyan, and the Council for Analyzing Critical Situations and drafts of government resolutions of the Russian Government, headed by academician, professor Nikita Moiseev.

THE AIMS OF THE EXPEDITION

The goal of the expedition is to help to speedup the solution of the Baikal problem. The concrete tasks of the expedition are:

SCIENTIFIC FOUNDATIONS

The expedition program is based on numerous materials of scientific investigations published in official documents, in monographs and other publications prepared mainly by the Irkutsk and Buryat centers of the Siberian Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences. They are devoted to various aspects of the Baikal problem and to characteristic features of the nature of the lake and its region. A considerable part of the corresponding materials, translated in part or full into English, were given to the expedition members.

Among these documents, the most important are the results of the system analysis of the Baikal region development strategy. The analysis was carried out by Russian participants and organizers of the expedition. The main results are collected in a special booklet in English and contain a detailed discussion of the concept of developing a recreation complex.

The results of the 1990-1991 Soviet-American expedition are also very interesting. The aim of this expedition, headed by George Davis, was to study the problems of land utilization in the Baikal basin.
 
 

EXPEDITION PARTICIPANTS
 

The total number of the expedition members was about 20 people with participants from Russia, USA, Germany, and Austria.


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Russian participants of the expedition were mainly specialists who have been carrying out ecological-economic analysis of the Baikal region for about 15 years, and have experience in similar expeditions. Among members of the expedition, there were also some journalists and a photographer.
 

THE ROUTE AND THE PROGRAM

The trip was scheduled for July 26 through August 10 and provided an opportunity to meet the the heads of the administration of different levels, scientists, businessmen and representatives of population of Irkutsk, Severobaikalsk, Ulan-Ude and also workers of national parks, nature reserves, tourist camps and centers, population of distant settlements.





The program provided visual observation of the coast from close distances. The means of transportation (see map) included: a liner motor ship (from Irkutsk to Olkhon), a leased cutter for the trip round Olkhon and along the Small Sea coast to Baikalsk-Lensk reserve, kayaks and sail boats for the trip along the Baikalsk-Lensk reserve, a rented cutter to reach Severobaikalsk, Nizhneangarsk, a cutter for the trip from Nizhneangarsk to the Selenga delta and Ulan-Ude, a bus from Ulan-Ude to Baikalsk - Slyudyanka, and a train from Slyudyanka to port Baikal.


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LOCAL ORGANIZING COMMITTEE

From left to right: Vladimir Gurman (chairman), Tatiana Chemezova, Paul Safonov, Dmitry Rosenraukh


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Other Links About Baikal

Baikal Environmental Sites
http://www.baikalwave.eu.org/battle.html
http://www.earthisland.org/baikal/baikal2.html

http://www.livinglakes.org/baikal/index.html

General Information
http://www.baikal.eastsib.ru
 

For more information, please, contact ISEE/RC Secretariat.
 


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ISEE Russian Chapter