Joint cross-border environmental monitoring system (KA5016)

Eco-Bridge project general idea was to provide relevant and up-to-date environmental data for specialists and wide range of organisations and ordinary people. Exactly for this purpose the project modernised water and air monitoring equipment, developed a joint database on water quality data accessible for Finnish and Russian experts and some of these data connected to water quality measurements were placed at the internet site of KarCHEM for open use.
As a result, by means of monitoring system modernization, electronic database development and utilisation of internet tools the project achieved the following specific objective - The environmental awareness of people and organizations on the both sides of the border has increased.

The following partners of ECO-bridge project worked on building a kind of "bridge" between the monitoring systems in the bordering areas:

1. Autonomous non-profit organization Energy Efficiency Centre (ANO EEC), one of the most active non-governmental organizations with experience of working as a coordinator and/or partner in several international projects in the field of energy-efficiency, housing, nature protection, ecology and communal services development.

2. Karelian Centre for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (Karelian CHEM), the organisation responsible for the state environmental monitoring system in Karelia. This organization is a part of the All-Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (Roshydromet). The Karelian Centre for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring has its own state network of monitoring stations for water objects and the atmosphere in Karelia and the Laboratory for Environmental Monitoring. It provides observations of the state and pollution of the atmosphere, surface water and radioactivity. For today the monitoring network of Roshydromet comprise 28 water objects (21 rivers, 5 lakes and 2 water reservoirs).

3. Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) is a multidisciplinary research and expert institute working under the Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Finland. SYKE’s Freshwater Centre is responsible for the monitoring and assessment of the quantitative and qualitative variations of water resources, the status of surface and ground water bodies and various biological variables. The Laboratory Centre fulfils SYKE's function as the national reference laboratory in the environmental field under the Environmental Protection Act. Its duties include providing external quality assessments (proficiency testing), standardization of methods, as well as training and expert support for the authorities and other parties within the environmental field.

4. The Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) is the official expert authority on air quality in Finland. The FMI is a weather service and research institute working under the Ministry of Transport and Communication of Finland. The FMI operates meteorological, air quality, radioactivity and space weather observation networks, delivers meteorological service to the society and conducts research in these fields of science.

5. Arbonaut Ltd. has developed with SYKE in the EU founded Life project GISBLOOM an open source web GIS platform, named Vesinetti, which provides an information infrastructure for operational and interactive use and exchange of data and models, including estimation of nutrient loading as well as its ecological impacts and cost-efficiency of management measures.

The main target group of our project and direct beneficiaries of project activities were a group of experts, researchers and technicians working in the organisations involved in monitoring of water resources in Finland and Karelia (about 20 persons from partner organisations and other stakeholders).
The Final beneficiaries are Russian and Finnish state and regional authorities and science organisations responsible for nature research works and for controlling of environment and nature resources utilization, such as:
•    The Ministry of Nature Management and Ecology of RK,
•    State Committee for Life Support and Public Safety of RK,
•    The Ministry of Health and Social Development of RK
•    Karelian Branch of the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Nature Management (Rosprirodnadzor) and the Central Laboratory of Rosprirodnadzor
•    The Federal Agency for Water Resources (Rosvodresursy) and its branches located in Karelia.
•    Department of the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Protection of Consumer Rights and Human Welfare for RK (Rospotrebnadzor)
•    Ministry of Environment of Finland,
•    ELY-Keskus (North Karelia department).
Measures taken in the course of the project were also beneficial for ecological NGOs and public environmental councils (regional and municipal) that can now utilize the results of environmental monitoring.

What we wanted to achieve: Increased environmental awareness of citizens, authorities and public organisations through introduction of joint approaches and principles of environmental monitoring in Finland and Karelia.

What we achieved: Increased environmental awareness of mainly authorities and public organisations through direct promotion of project activities and results. Increased capacity of project partners by transfer and exchange of knowledge and experience and introduction of new equipment.

The following outputs were reached and corresponding activities were implemented in order to reach mentioned above specific objective:

  1. Environment monitoring facilities in the selected pilot areas of Karelia and Finland are introduced or modernised

  • Russian partners obtained new experience in using distant automated water and air monitoring technologies by means joint workshops, discussions and site visits to Finland for the best practices adoption;

  • Joint discussion (FIN/RUS) and selection of the most efficient technical solutions and relevant equipment for automated monitoring stations (AMSs) to be installed in Karelia. Also selection of the most appropriate places for water AMS installation in Karelia was executed (numerous site visits to Karelian districts);

  • Three brand new automatic hydrochemical monitoring stations (AMSs) were installed on rivers Tulemajoki, Uuksunjoki and Olonka. The AMSs are powered by solar panels, equipped with batteries and controlled remotely. KarCHEM staff was trained to handle this new equipment. Air quality monitoring station in Ilomantsi (FMI) obtained a new safe and comfortable measurement container which was placed on a reinforced foundation and connected to new electricity supply grids. New equipment (sulphur dioxide and ozone monitors) was procured and put into operation.

2. Internet-based information system for eco-monitoring data collection, operation and delivery to end users is developed.

3. Higher level of knowledge and skills of employees of partner organizations in modern requirements, methods and technologies of water and air quality monitoring.

  • The intercalibration (comparative analysis) process took place in January 201. Partners compared equipment and methods of analysis of river water samples, which were collected on the Russian side of river Tohmajoki . Separate report on the results of intercalibration was prepared.

  • Study trip to Helsinki for KarCHEM lab workers was organized by SYKE and FMI in May 2019. The study trip was aimed at broadening of professional skills of the KarCHEM and SYKE. New knowledge obtained by participants contributed to better understanding of the similarities and differences in methods, means and standards of environmental monitoring in Russia and Finland and will pave a better way to finding joint approaches.

  • In October 2019, project staff of FMI and SYKE came to Petrozavodsk for a two-day event where they had a chance to see how their colleagues work in Russia. Arbonaut took part in the partner meeting on the project progress remotely. The second day of the visit was open for the general public and took the form of an information seminar for all Karelian stakeholders.

  • Arbonaut held a training seminar in September 2020 to introduce SYKE and KarCHEM to the newly developed GIS-system and show them how to operate it.

  • The final seminar of the project took place in September 2020 and was held partly remotely for the Finnish and Russian colleagues (from Moscow, S-Petersburg and Rostov on Don) and partly in person. It was attended by representatives of 14 stakeholder organizations who were presented the project results and achievements

4. Coordinated approaches and joint principles of environmental monitoring (water and air) are developed and disseminated.

  • Coordinated approaches and joint principles of environmental monitoring (water and air) are described in Intercallibration report (April, 2019) - Intercalibration_report_ECO-Bridge_2019_final.pdf, Helsinki training report (May, 2019), Project Newsletter (June, 2019) - KA5016 Newsletter eng.pdf and the Final brochure “Joint Cross-border environmental monitoring system - lessons learnt and development plan of Eco-Bridge project” (Sept, 2020) - Final brochure.pdf. All the documents are distributed to project stakeholders in Finland (by SYKE and FMI) and Russia (through Roshydromet structure).

  • Also the main project achievements and recommendations were presented to the members of the Joint Russian-Finnish Commission on the use of Border Water Systems in April 2019 and September 2020.

The project was implemented through joint actions (including pilot infrastructural projects on the both sides of the border) and efficient use of bilateral experience of the Finish and Karelian experts in the field of environmental monitoring, especially water and air quality monitoring. Partners have a vision of cooperation in the future and are open to continue what Eco-Bridge started.

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