This year will be one of the busiest in the life of the Russian Geographical Society. The RGS will organize expeditions to clean up the Arctic and plan the development of eco-tourism, as well as to create a carbon site in Kamchatka. The new volunteer program will allow volunteers to help restore the number of the Przewalski's horse. An exciting "Geography Night" and the RGS Festival, summing up the results and awarding the winners of competitions, including "The Most Beautiful Country", are awaiting the fans of geographical science. The Society shared its plans and already implemented projects during a meeting of the Media Club held on May 27 at its Headquarters in Moscow.
“Today we want to share with you information about the most noteworthy expeditions, projects of the current season. The year promises to be productive," Anastasia Chernobrovina, Advisor to the President of the Russian Geographical Society on Information Policy, said opening the meeting of the Media Club.
Cleaning up the Arctic
One of the most significant projects of 2022 will be the "spring cleaning", which will be done on the Arctic islands by the representatives of the Russian Geographical Society.
“This year we will continue working together with the environmental units of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation in two places at once. This is Wrangel Island in the very east of our Arctic zone and Kildin Island in its west," said Sergey Chechulin, Director of the Expeditionary Department of the RGS.
The participants of the work on Wrangel Island will go to the Arctic on July 15, when navigation opens. The main locations are an airfield near the village of Zvezdny, as well as a military town and an oil installation near Cape Hawaii. The barrels collected from Zvezdny will be compressed and delivered to the mainland. In total, it is planned to prepare 22 containers with scrap metal. The completion of the work is scheduled for September 30.
The main thing polluting Kildin Island is military equipment, including heavy equipment. According to Sergey Chechulin, the RGS expedition will use a unique plasma method of metal cutting to clean up the territory, which will significantly increase the work efficiency. In 2022, it is planned to collect about 300 tons of scrap metal on the island.
Active preparations are also beginning to clean up the mainland coast of the Arctic Ocean. The first location next year, 2023, will be the village of Khatanga in the north of Krasnoyarsk Kari, where five military towns were built at once in Soviet times. The RGS is ready to involve volunteers in this work. Ecologists, who will assess the accumulated damage and develop new methods for eliminating pollution, will participate in all Arctic expeditions.
“We hope that this work will significantly accelerate the cleaning of our Arctic,” stressed Sergey Chechulin.
The development of the Arctic zone is a vital direction of development for our country. Construction and active economic activity began here in the middle of the last century. At that time, the delivery of goods to the Far North was not an easy task, and the removal of garbage from the polar zone was a complete luxury. For decades, "human footprints" have been accumulating on vast expanses of tundra and Arctic deserts. Millions of barrels of fuel pose a particular danger to the fragile nature of the region. The remnants of petroleum products and rust pollute the water and the surrounding landscape.
The Russian Geographical Society has been cleaning up the Arctic zone of Russia since 2010. By 2014, the specialists of the RGS and the Ministry of Defense had determined the level of man-made pollution of specially protected natural territories located on the islands of the Arctic archipelagos – Franz Josef Land, Novaya Zemlya, the Novosibirsk Islands, as well as on Wrangel Island. On Franz Josef Land alone, the total mass of accumulated waste was estimated at 90,000 tons.
“I want to wish the new expedition, which will clean up the Arctic, success. Use the experience of the Russian Geographical Society – we are ready to share, we will help you. And I hope that this task will be completed. I am always ready to actively help those who want to see the Arctic clean. The Arctic and the Northern Sea Route are ours, we must keep them clean and ensure environmental safety. Good luck to you guys on this expedition!” said First Vice-President of the RGS Artur Chilingarov.
During the meeting of the Media Club, Artur Chilingarov also said that a unique ice platform, which had no analogues in the world yet, had recently been launched in Russia to work in the high latitudes of the Arctic. It is planned to put the vessel into operation in September. There are 15 research laboratories on board. The famous polar explorer proposed to include a representative of the Russian Geographical Society in the crew.
“I suggest that some of the people who are interested in the Arctic should be included in the crew after the ship's tests. To have a representative of the Russian Geographical Society participate," Chilingarov added.
Carbon site, tourism and ecology of Kamchatka
In 2022, the Russian Geographical Society is launching an ambitious international project on comprehensive environmental research in Kamchatka. It is aimed, among other things, at creating a carbon site in the region.
The comprehensive fight against climate change, which has become especially relevant in the 21st century, calls not only for the elimination of negative consequences of human activity, but also for the development of promising projects that will reduce the anthropogenic burden on nature. In Russia, these may be marine carbon sites – water areas allocated for the "processing and utilization" of greenhouse gases by nature itself.
“In August of this year, the Russian Geographical Society together with Rossotrudnichestvo, within the framework of the program ‘New Generation’, invites several dozen young scientists from different countries to Kamchatka to participate in three areas of research at once,” said Anton Yurmanov, Director of the Youth Work Department of the RGS.
The first area is the justification for the creation of a new marine reserve on the peninsula. To do this, the places of accumulation of marine mammals listed in the Red Book – sea otters, seals, whales – will be studied. The second block is work in Avacha Pass and adjacent territories to prepare the concept of the region’s sustainable development and the increase in the demand for tourism. The main task of this direction is to ensure the development of the tourism industry without harming the unique natural landscapes.
The third area is the choice of location and justification for the creation of a marine carbon site. This is an area with unique marine landscapes, where plants can process a certain amount of carbon dioxide dissolved in water during photosynthesis. The RGS expedition will study the stability of these landscapes in the presence of CO2 emissions, the potential volumes of its absorption.
“Such carbon sites in Russia already exist in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, near Sakhalin. But they are not yet present in the northwestern part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. It is a great honor for us to take part in this work," Yurmanov stressed.
Young specialists from different countries, mainly from the Far Eastern region, will work in Kamchatka from August 14 to September 4. The competitive selection starts on June 1.
“We will be glad to invite specialists from various regions. We would like to hear their opinion, learn about their vision for sustainable development of the territory and tourism, the creation of marine reserves, carbon sites. We are waiting for everyone, there can be only logistical exceptions," Yurmanov stressed.
Dream job, volunteers, and the Przewalski's horse
Every year, the Russian Geographical Society provides an opportunity for young people to take part in various expeditions, help around nature reserves, visit specially protected natural areas where unauthorized persons aren’t allowed. This year, within the framework of the project "Dream Jobs", the best of the best will be able to participate in the restoration of the Przewalski’s horse population in the Orenburg Nature Reserve. This is the only such program in Russia, which is under the personal patronage of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Russian Geographical Society Vladimir Putin.
“Our work is really interesting and unique. A lot of people want to join us. In principle, anyone can come and see the Przewalski's horse during the tour. But to work here, to see the work of the reserve from the inside, no one has ever been able to do this. Now such an opportunity has appeared," Yevgeny Bulgakov, head of the Przewalski’s Horse Reintroduction Center, said during the meeting of the Media Club.
The center is glad that the territory of the Orenburg Nature Reserve was chosen by the Russian Geographical Society for the implementation of its volunteer project. Everything is ready for the reception of volunteers, Bulgakov assured. All guests will be provided with comfortable accommodation and meals.
“And of course, we are ready to provide an opportunity not only to see, but also to work with us and with the Przewalski's horse. We are inviting and waiting for volunteers, active, interested people from June 1 to September 30,” Evgeny Bulgakov added.
The year 2021 turned out to be very productive for the Przewalski’s Horse Reintroduction Center in the Orenburg Nature Reserve. New offspring were born – 15 foals.
“I think this year will be even more successful. Five foals have already been born today. And about the same amount is on the way. Volunteers will see the newborns and will be able to work with them. The Orenburg Nature Reserve, the steppe, and the atmosphere that exists only in the steppe make this place the most amazing in Russia. If we’re talking about a dream job, then this is where you should start," said the director of the reserve Rafilya Bakirova.
According to her, only because of the project of the Russian Geographical Society, the reserve is ready to show the side of its work that people usually don’t see. Show all the aspects of life of a specially protected natural area from the inside. The main condition for participation is the ability to tell about it. The reserve is ready to continue the tradition of cooperation with the RGS in the future.
Professional standard "geographer"
Interest in geography in Russia is steadily growing. The Russian Geographical Society actively participates in the popularization of the science and pays much attention to educational projects. Nikolay Kasimov, First Vice-President of the RGS, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, spoke about his work in the field of education and scientific activity during the meeting of the Media Club.
“One of our tasks, including on behalf of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, is to draw public attention to the role of geography, to the importance it has in our life, in the national economy. Russia is not Luxembourg. This is a huge country where the location of industry and population is of enormous importance. We started working with rectors of higher educational institutions, and the number of young people who enroll to study geographical and related disciplines has been increased," Kasimov said.
Many leading universities in Russia have begun to perceive geography as one of the main subjects. Starting from 2021, the number of people who took geography exam has increased by 20%.
An important area of activity of the RGS was the development, together with the Ministry of Labor, of the professional standard "geographer". Now it is at the practical application stage. We are talking about the most important specializations for the country – hydrology, meteorology, tourism, and others.
“This project is very important because it allows a young person to apply their skills , to understand where they can work,” Kasimov stressed.
Virtual tour of Konstantinovskaya Battery and "World of Geography"
During the meeting of the RGS Media Club, a new project of the Russian Geographical Society, implemented with the support of the payment system “Mir”, was presented – a virtual tour of Konstantinovskaya Battery in Sevastopol. Now the famous citadel is open to the public at any time, from anywhere in the world.
“We are announcing the launch of a large-scale project of the Russian Geographical Society for the digital popularization of the geographical, historical, and cultural heritage of Russia. We want to start it with Konstantinovskaya Battery. To date, this virtual tour has no analogues. You can watch it wearing a VR headset, on your computer, on your phone. There are already a huge number of visitors on the site," said Sergey Korlykhanov, Deputy Executive Director of the Russian Geographical Society.
In 2015, the Russian Geographical Society carefully restored the symbol of the resilience and courage of Sevastopol. A Headquarters of the Russian Geographical Society, a library, an archive, and exhibitions telling about the history of the city, the Crimea, and the whole of Russia have opened in Konstantinovskaya Battery. Visiting the fortress is a cherished dream of many Russians and foreign tourists. Now it is very easy to realize it – just open a new web-page and enjoy informative excursions and impressive views, films and archival documents, see with your own eyes the museum's exhibition, the best works of the contest "The Most Beautiful Country", and much more.
“I am very glad that we have such a wonderful project. The payment system “Mir” has been cooperating with the RGS for more than six years. Our first project, related to the unique archival materials of the Russian Geographical Society, was also in digital format. We immediately supported the idea of creating a tour of Konstantinovskaya Battery, and, as you can see, we have a wonderful product," said Irina Rudenko, a representative of the payment system “Mir”.
The Russian Geographical Society, the payment system “Mir”, and Russian Post are preparing another VR project for the birthday of the Russian Geographical Society. It will be called "World of Geography".
“Our famous travelers Przhevalsky, Miklouho-Maclay, Litke and others will come to life and meet with the current generation of young people. The young people will ask them questions that our famous travelers will have to answer. Tell about what they went through in their time, what difficulties they overcame in order to succeed,” Anastasia Chernobrovina announced the project.
Filming for the new project took place at the Headquarters of the Russian Geographical Society in St. Petersburg. The audience will be almost completely immersed in the fascinating history of Russian geography. The project will be presented in August.
"Geography Night", the RGS Festival, and much more
Fans of geographical science will not be bored this year. Very soon, from June 3 to 5, the already famous RGS event "Geography Night" will take place. Museums, parks, nature reserves, educational institutions, and other organizations in different countries of the world and in almost all regions of Russia will take part in it. And on the birthday of the Russian Geographical Society, on August 18, the traditional RGS Festival will open.
“This is a unique opportunity to unite all our regions at one venue in Zaryadye Park. Visitors will have the opportunity to get around our entire country in just ten days," Anastasia Chernobrovina said.
The best guides of the country will conduct unique excursions to their favorite cities at the venue. The audience will see the most interesting films created with the participation of the RGS, the most outstanding photos. It is at the RGS Festival that the winners of "The Most Beautiful Country" contest will be announced. Quests and quizzes will be waiting for guests, the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the stunning world of geography and wildlife.
Representatives of the regional branches of the Russian Geographical Society took an active part in the meeting of the Media Club. Many of them told about their own interesting projects. During the meeting, various questions were answered concerning environmental problems, expeditions, and other relevant aspects of the activities of the Russian Geographical Society. The questions were answered by Artur Chilingarov, Nikolay Kasimov, Sergey Chechulin, Anastasia Chernobrovina, as well as well-known blogger Bogdan Bulychev.
In particular, the participants of the Media Club meeting learned that in addition to “the encyclopedia of tourist routes” of Russia created by the Russian Geographical Society, it is planned to create a volunteer database. It will help to select volunteers for various RGS expeditions. Sergey Chechulin told about this initiative.
“Constantly recruiting volunteers for our field projects, we realized that we needed to form a kind of ‘volunteer corps’, the participants of which we would know. We will know if they are vaccinated and their professional skills. We are starting to form a large database, using which we will always be able to find those who we need in a particular place. We will announce it soon and we are waiting for everyone who wishes to participate," said Sergey Chechulin.
At the end of the meeting, Anastasia Chernobrovina invited everyone to take part in interesting projects and expeditions of the Russian Geographical Society, that allow to rediscover our huge and beautiful country.
“Come with us!” Anastasia Chernobrovina concluded the meeting of the RGS Media Club.