The Arctic Circle, 66°34’ north. Here, the sun never sets in the summer and never rises in the winter. The area around Chupa on the White Sea is thinly populated, primarily covered by lakes, marshes and forests, a railway line connects St. Petersburg with Murmansk and it is 1,600 kilometres from Moscow. A campaign is looking for future prospects.
The Basin Council is a non-profit organisation, founded in 2003 with the support of WWF Russia and the Lighthouse Foundation. The Basin Council has some 100 members, primarily active citizens from the Chupa Region on the White Sea: Fishermen, teachers, business men and women, representatives from local government. There is close co-operation with local government, the official bodies of the Republic of Karelia, scientific institutions on the White Sea such as the Universities of Moscow, St. Petersburg and Petrozavodsk biological stations as well as the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The Basin Council is also developing contacts with the Finnish community of Taivalkoski.
The project makes a contribution to the promotion of autonomous regional development and to implement the Barents Sea Environmental Protection Strategy, which is part of the WWF programme in Russia. The project is linked with to the Arctic Network Initiative (Arctic NI), subject area of Resilience, Spatial planning.
Strategic targets for the Barents Sea and Chupa regions include the protection and restoration of natural ecosystem processes and functions to maintain the wide variety of communities, promote civil society and the potential for alternative, sustainable sources of income such as green tourism, small-scale inshore fishing and sustainable forestry. At the same time, experience is being gathered from establishment of maritime protection areas in Russia as well as developing models for the introduction of participative approaches to coastal region management.
The Basin Council is designed to be a resource for all citizens interested in sustainable development. It is intended to promote the exchange of information and increase awareness of coastal management, nature conservation and development. There will also be conservation and sustainable development projects and environmental education.
The special feature of this project in comparison with most WWF projects is the planned objective, to achieve comprehensive involvement of the local community in the management and conservation of resources of the coastal area for sustainable development and to increase the wealth of the local population. The project will be a model for the active involvement of the local population in managing the resources of a coastal area in the Barents Sea ecological region. This provides an opportunity for the WWF to learn how to work in co-operation with the local communities.