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Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Cross-sectoral coastal programme in the eastern Baltic

A transdisciplinary programme in the Eastern Baltic area has been developed and is being carried out by UNESCO (CSI) and other partners; featured are activities concentrating on research and training leading to the better management of the region's coastal areas. The programme's activities are designed to include participation by local communities and other interested groups, and encompass in their focus coastal biosphere reserves and other protected areas in the eastern Baltic. The programme is based on a UNESCO-IOC-HELCOM co-sponsored 'Baltic Floating University' project that was developed in the period 1993-95.

To better implement the CSI component, a Regional Coordinating Center was established at the Russian State Hydrometeorological Institute (St. Petersburg). The Center's responsibilities will include the organization of 'training-through-research' activities and information and data exchange among the cooperating partners.

A planning meeting (held 16-17 May in St. Petersburg), for the 1996 execution of the programme, was followed by a multi-sectoral event (24-26 May) which was called 'Days of the Living Sea' and held at Suomenlinna (Finland), a UNESCO-recognized World Heritage Site. This event, organized by SULA (a regional Finland-based NGO) and co-sponsored by several sectors of UNESCO, brought together a few hundred scientists, artists, school children and other members of the general public around the theme of protecting the coastal environment.

This activity was followed by an intensive field research and training programme, carried out between 11-27 July and 10-26 August in the eastern Baltic Sea (in accordance with a regional intergovernmental 'Year of the Gulf of Finland' programme as well as a HELCOM monitoring programme), and, during the period June-August, in coastal areas of the Gulf of Finland (as an input to the 'Baltic Strictly Protected Areas' plan of HELCOM). Research and training were carried out onboard two Finnish and one Russian research vessels as well as a Russian sailing catamaran, the latter being especially useful for work in very shallow waters. In 1996, CSI and SULA made a major effort to upgrade research capabilities of this coastal platform (i.e. the catamaran) by providing various items of equipment. In particular, SULA was instrumental in the fund-raising for and installation of the equipment.

Of particular interest were international coastal studies (5-20 August) around the Hiiumaa Islands (Estonia). These studies yielded valuable information and data that can be considered in any future decision-making process as to a possible offshore extension of a land-based MAB biosphere reserve (already established there). On August 17, a Hiiumaa-based workshop concluded these studies.

During the period 22-23 August, an international seminar was organized in Tallinn (Estonia) to conclude the 1996 field research programme. Its major themes were: (i) Integrated Study of the Baltic Coastal Zone, (ii) Coastal/ Island-based Biosphere Reserves in the Eastern Baltic Region, (iii) Training and Education in Integrated Coastal Zone Management, and (iv) International Cooperation in Baltic Sea Studies.

This year the BFU has evolved into a larger and more cooperative regional project for the eastern Baltic. Over 70 researchers and students (from Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Russia and Peru) took part in these activities. The 2nd issue of the BFU Research Bulletin, summarizing 1995-1996 results, is being finalized and will be published in 1997 in Finland.

For more information, contact:
Mr. Richard T. Coon, Chairman, Gulf of Finland Environment Society (SULA), Suomenlinna B20 E9, FIN-00190 Helsinki, Finland. Tel: +358-9-668072; Fax: +358-9-668068.

Prof. L. Karlin, Rector, Russian State Hydrometeorological Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia. e-mail: serg@ocean.rshmi.spb.ru

UNESCO-CSI, 1, rue Miollis, 75732 Paris, Cedex 15, France. Tel. +(33) (0) 1 45 68 39 71, Fax: +(33) (0) 1 45 68 58 08, E-mail: csi@unesco.org

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