Test Design Lighthouse

Russia: Chupa, Karelia - far up in the North

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.


Further development of the Basin Council and Chupa Yacht Club

Sailing brings schoolchildren and students into closer contact with sport and nature.

The Basin Council information centre has developed into an established institution and is a point of contact for tourists and the base for organising the project’s implementation. The governing board as a permanent, advisory committee of the organisation was newly appointed in 2011.

The Council has been involved at a local level in meetings on further developments on the issue of use of organic waste. Agreement has been reached with the mayors in the villages along the northern Karelia coast: Firstly, the establishment of a pilot project on organic waste in Crimson and Chupy Varakki. The Council ran a competition on this subject amongst the local populace under the title “Clean coast and a tidy town”.


The Chupa Yacht Club has been actively involved in a number of ways to bring sport and the nature of Karelia closer to schoolchildren and students. In addition to participation in the Russian Yachting Federation competition and in the Solovki Regatta for the North West Cup, a trip was organised for the schoolchildren and students on a yacht from Chupa through the White Sea-Baltic Canal to Lake Onega and back. The "Russia Championship” yacht was used on a tour to promote the regional environmental and support organisations with water sports enthusiasts and coastal inhabitants were provided with information material on the North Karelian coast and conservation areas.


Finally, a “Day of the Fishermen” was organised, which was of course also aimed at water sports enthusiasts and guests from the North Karelian coast.


Development of sustainable tourism in nature

As in the year before last, a survey was carried out of tourists in Chupa and the surrounding area and along the North Karelian coast to determine, and ultimately prevent, the anthropogenic effects of tourism on the natural environment.


The specially-protected “Gridino” nature area was promoted in public, at meetings and via direct educational work to give it a positive image in the eyes of the local inhabitants. We organised expeditions in the area to find out about the state of the road and path networks. Parking facilities for visitors to the area were built at appropriate spots. Moreover, additional information material was produced to specifically portray the Bay of Chupa in the Gulf of Kandalaksha to tourists. Printing was delayed again as a change of status of the nature area was expected and these changes could have had an effect on the regulations in the area. Of course, the brochures should be up-to-date.

The Basin Council has supported and organised other excursions to develop historical, architectural and geological tours in Keret. In an expedition to the Red Cape in the Arctic Circle conservation area, material was gathered for designing ecological hiking trails. A project was started to revive the former Archangel to Cola trading route, which used to run through Keret. A joint exercise involving the basin Council and the civilian emergency services was held in the Arctic Circle conservation area to be prepared for possible emergencies.


Further measures included ice fishing competitions on the White Sea and the erection of benches along the pathways to cater for older citizens and tourists. Visitors were also borne in mind with the holding of skiing competitions for children and participation in the international summer camp with youth sport from the school district of Chupa in Finland.


Development of coastal conservation areas

The ecology of the White Sea and its organisms is studied in a number of research stations.
Exhibitions with fascinating images were shown to the public.

The boundary of the “Polyarniy Krug” (Arctic Circle) was marked out with posts. That helps visitors and local inhabitants to heed the valid regulations and avoid damaging the area. The conservation area was assessed again through a joint expedition with WWF staff. This conservation area is being used as an example for designing an effective environmental management system for nature reserves and conservation areas.

Meetings were organised with residents and companies in the Varatskogo administrative area to discuss the question of local participation in the management of the Arctic Circle conservation area.


WWF continues to support the establishment of a new conservation area for coastal ecosystems called “Gridino”. Further discussions were held with the local population in Plotina and Amabrnyi. Concerns, comments and suggestions from the citizens were recorded and will be considered in the concept.


A UN project and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Environment of the Republic of Karelia enabled undergraduates and post-graduates from Petrosavodsk and the State University of Moscow to carry out a hydrobiological expedition, which is designed to introduce a regular monitoring of the littoral “Kuzova” conservation area. Working together with the Keralian environmental organisations, the Basin Council works on the administration of conservation areas in the Arctic Circle region to fulfil the relevant requirements of the Ministry of the Environment and Ecology of the Republic of Karelia. In addition, face-to-face meetings are held between representatives of environmental NGOs and members of the board for the administration on nature reserves in Karelia.


Public relations

The Basin Council website was relaunched in 2011 and a modern content management system was introduced for publishing reports and information.


The Basin Council presented itself at the “Tag Chupy” festival at the House of Culture and supported preparations for and the staging of the “White Noise” ethno-cultural festival. The various competitions for residents of the coastal area of the White Sea organised by the Basin Council proved to be popular.


The participation of the local fishery in the activities of Slowfood International or Slowfish in Genoa, Italy, gave the participants the opportunity to exchange experiences on an international level. The Basin Council supports preparations for the launch of the newly-established Karelia conservation area at an international meeting.


Smaller exhibitions remained in the region. A photo exhibition is dedicated to marine life forms, another showed lithographs with images of the North Karelia coast. Further support from the Basin Council was given to the education programmes for children and teenagers such as the introduction of a campaign to protect elephant seals for secondary school students.


Critical review

The reorganisation of the Basin Council was completed as planned last year. The council moved into another office to act as a platform for further local nature conservation projects and campaigns for sustainable development such as exhibitions, festivals, educational courses, discussion on the delineation of the conservation area and nature conservation research involving local youth.


The biggest challenge in implementing the project is the widespread inactivity of the local population. Even if there are some active and responsible individuals who take a leading role in the project, they are not in a position to carry the self-isolating community with them. The only way out appears to be the continuation of the day-to-day work and bringing important environmental issues to the attention of the population.


Up to now, the support of the WWF for this project has been limited despite the fact that this undertaking will be an outstanding base for developing plans for future work in the local communities. The task of the Barents Sea Ecology region office is now seen as networking with other regional campaigns.



Project partner:

Basin Council

Yury Kybacov

186670, Russia, Republic of Karelia,

Loukhi district, Chupa settlement,

Korguev Str. 7



WWF Russia Representative Office

19-3, Nikoloyamskaya st.

109240 Moscow




The White Sea - a short introduction into a small sea's ecology