Lake Baikal--World Treasure"--the name of the international scientific practical conference held recently at the UNESCO* headquarters (Paris) under the assistance of the UNESCO Representative Office in Russia, Lake Baikal Conservation Fund**,
Government of the Republic of Buryatia, Russian Geographical Society, Monaco Museum of Oceanography and Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. The details of this event were delivered to the journalist of the Science in Siberia newspaper Evelina Astashonok by Viktor Plyusnin, Dr. Sc. (Geog.), participant in the conference,
* See: M. Malygina, "The UNESCO Award", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2011.--Ed.
** See: M. Ktizmin, G. Khursevich, "Diatom Chronicle of Lake Baikal and Climatic Change". Science in Russia, No. 3, 2012.--Ed.
director of the RAS Institute of Geography named after V. Sochava (Irkutsk).
He pointed out that before the conference the exhibition "Magic World of Baikal" had been organized; there were exhibited color large-size photos of coastal landscapes of the lake and photos made by means of deepsea apparatuses "Mir"* (plants, animals, sponges, gas-hydrate exhausts** and mud volcanoes). In addition, the film "To the Depths of Baikal" dedicated to the research works carried out by an international expedition-underwater shootings, picturesque environs of the lake, and unique discoveries made by scientists--was also demonstrated there.
Participants in the exhibition were welcomed by Francesco Bandarin, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture; Eleonora Mitrofanova, Permanent Representative of Russia in UNESCO (she spoke about the problem of protection and problems of purification of the lake and waste waters running along the Selenga; littering of coasts and shutdown of the pulp-and-paper plant***); RF State Duma deputy Mikhail Slipenchuk described in detail the process of creation and work of the said "Mir" apparatuses, constructed in 1985 in Finland to Soviet designs. By the present moment, these deepsea apparatuses helped make 10 scientific discoveries and some are anticipated as the works are still in progress. He said that in July-August 2012 in Ulan-Ude a meeting on the priorities of development of the Baikal Natural Territory would be held. The problem of preservation of the lake would also be discussed at the Baikal Economic Forum.
Anatoly Sagalevich, Chairman of the Technical Council of the above mentioned Fund, who participated in the creation of world-known deepsea apparatuses "Mir" that submerged 178 times with 215 scientists on board, spoke next.
Later on Arnold Tulokhonov, RAS Corresponding Member, Director of the RAS SB Institute of Environmental Management (Ulan-Ude), proposed to establish a deepsea research corporation similar to Roskos-mos* By the way, Roskosmos specialists also delivered reports at the conference. They told about their work: photos made from outer space help identify formations in Baikal--circles, cracks and thawed patches periodically appearing at the same places. All this is a result of exit of gas-hydrates to the surface of the lake (from thermal springs located at the bottom).
The conference was also welcomed by Gretchen Kalonji, UNESCO Deputy Director-General for Exact and Natural Sciences; Thierry Mariani, French Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing Construction; Did Hambolama Dagba Ochirov, representative of the Buddhist community.
* See: "Benthal Routes of "MIRs", Science in Russia, No. 2, 2009.--Ed.
** Gas hydrates (hydrates of natural gases or clathrates)--crystal compounds formed of water and gas under certain natural temperature conditions.--Ed.
*** Baikal pulp-and-paper plant--an industrial plant (launched in 1961) located in the city of Baikalsk (Slyudyansky District. Inrutsk Region) in the southern part of the eastern coast of the lake. Widely known as the major polluter of Baikal.--Ed.
* See: M. Yevgenyeva, "Space Attack", Science in Russia, No. 4, 2011; M. Khalizeva, "'Radioastron' Brings Deep Space Closer", Science in Russia. No. 1, 2012.--Ed.
The French delegate emphasized: lake Baikal is of great interest around the world, including France, and he is happy to learn that the problem of preservation of this unique water reservoir and its in-depth studies are among priorities not only for top officials, but also for French specialists.
The problem of preservation of the lake and results of the "Mir" expeditions were also on the agenda of the conference. Researchers and experts from Russia and a number of European countries delivered their reports on the works in deep-water conditions at the bottom of Baikal. At the end of the conference a special resolution to continue a comprehensive research of the Baikal ecosystem using advanced ecologically-friendly technologies and a recommendation to set up an International Center for Ecological Innovations and Sustainable Development was adopted.
The report presented by Viktor Plyusnin we spoke about in the beginning of the article, excited considerable public interest. He informed delegates on some morphological characteristics of the lake and the problem of ecological zoning of the Baikal Natural Territory. Urban planning is still applied in our country for this purpose instead of landscape planning that would be more appropriate in this region: in future it could be used to determine borders of the central ecological zone. While at present the territory is arbitrarily developed, lands are alienated, local residents complain about what is going on there. For example, a possible prohibition of fishing--people always used to fish on Baikal and no one has the right to prohibit them to do so.
Plyusnin also spoke of a number of current "core" problems of the lake--preservation of purity of its waters (necessity to shut down the highly disputable Baikal pulp-and-paper plant or change its profile), development of tourism (Baikal belongs to humankind; that is why everyone should have an opportunity to visit it; first of all, it is necessary to create an eco-friendly infrastructure--build good roads, hotels, tourist camps, and other facilities that would fit the landscape). Lake Baikal Protection Fund made a decision to support two research proposals--to promote scientific activities in order to make maps of the region and Mongolia, and use ultralight planes equipped with modern powerful devices similar to those actively used to explore the Lake of Geneva in Switzerland. In fact, photos from outer space available at the moment show only the surface--in addition they are often of poor quality--while light planes enable scientists to study deep-water processes in the lake itself.
E. Astashonok, "Baikal as a Global Property", "Science in Siberia" newspaper, No. 22, 2012
Опубликовано на Порталусе 14 октября 2021 года
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