Trash Free National Parks

Trash Free National Parks

2019 — present

In attempt to consider comprehensively conservation of the Baikal natural area Lake Baikal Foundation paid attention to one of the most serious environmental problems: littering and excessive amount of waste. The «Trash Free National Parks» program is aimed at comprehensive solution of the problem of left garbage and waste deposits in the national parks around the Baikal. The pilot project is being implemented in the Zabaikalsky National Park (the Republic of Buryatia) in 2019-2020. It extends by 260 thousand hectars and is annually visited by 42 thousand people.

The program is based on the principle «Carry In – Carry Out», which corresponds with the world-known «5R» concept of correct waste management: reduce, reuse, recycle. Following this principle, the visitors stop leaving their «garbage footprint» in national parks, they can separate and recycle solid waste. To this end all necessary infrastructure has been installed or repurposed: recycling bins and information boards for the visitors.

The project includes an educational part as well. During the whole summer period trained volunteers and national parks’ employees worked with the visitors, explaining to them the new rules of waste management. In 2020 the project unfolded a summer ecoschool: visitors of all ages participated in workshops and recycled garbage on their own. As a gratitude from the national park they received “green” tickets which can be exchanged by free services during the next visit.

Finally, the waste studies in 2019-2020 served as a base for the Concept of Sustainable Waste Management in the Zabaikalsky National Park. It primarily includes data on morphology, dynamics and logistics of waste accumulated in the national park, obtained by the international project expert team.

Practices and lessons of the project are scalable and adaptable for other protected natural areas in the Baikal region and in ither parts of Russia. The Trash Free National Parks program is open to develop and build new sustainable pertnerships.

Goals:

  • to increase the level of ecoculture of local population and the Baikal visitors;
  • to prevent littering in the Special Protected Natural Area (SPNA);
  • to implement separate waste collection in the SPNA.

What have been done:

  • we achieved the main goal of the project: the recycling and separate garbage collection works in the Zabaikalsky national park, based on research of morphology, dynamics and logistics of waste accumulated in the national park. The research is presented in the Concept of Sustainable Waste Management in the Zabaikalsky National Park;
  • 20 000 visitors of the Zabaikalsky National Park have been informed about the new principles of waste management: “Carry In – Carry Out” and “Recycle Rightly”, with the help of more than 160 volunteers;
  • more than 2 tons of separated waste (plastic,glass, metal) were sent to recycling company in the city of Ulan-Ude, avoiding landfills. In 2021 the national park will analyze how the volume of waste decreased over 2 years;
  • our pro bono partners Social Business Group performed socilolgical analysis of the questionnaires from the visitors of the national park on environmental habits and attitude to recycling during the trip;
  • we created the pool of the collecting and recycling secondary raw materials companies in the Baikal region. The database helped to find a partner for the Zabaikalsky National Park and it is accessible for any organization;
  • we worked out an animated video about separate waste collection in the national park;
  • we held a contest for ecoturists in social media: during the summer 2020 the Foundation’s and the park’s followers posted stories about what they do to preserve nature while travelling in the Baikal region. The contest attracted 16 ambassadors of the project in social media and two of them received eco-friendly gifts from the Foundation and the park;
  • for further popularization of the responsible waste treatment principles and ecoturism we shot a short movie about responsible tourism with pro bono partners Method Production.

Sustainable development of the project:

  • on the basis of the pilot project’s results we consult other SPNAs on improving the sustainable waste management system. The model project will be scaled in other natural protected areas around the Baikal including the Pribaikalsky National Park and the National Park “Chikoy” as a priority;
  • in the long term perspective the project will become a basis for sustainable environmental development of the Baikal region in the field of waste management. By 2021 we plan to anchor the recycling system in the national park, by 2026 – to provide implementation of other sustainable development elements there: switch to alternative sources of energy; systematic educational work with the local community, etc. In the context of the waste-management governmental reform the national parks which have implemented the progressive pattern in 2019 and are ready to implement it further independently will be able to become innovative leaders of reserve management in Russia.

In 2019-2020 the project was implemented with the support of  the Presidential Grants Foundation

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Sustainable Tourism