Let’s Make It Happen: How to Become a Volunteer at Lake Baikal

Let’s Make It Happen: How to Become a Volunteer at Lake Baikal

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Far from everybody knew what volunteering was ten years ago. Today the word “volunteer” is understood by almost everyone; 2018 has been officially declared the Year of Volunteers; more and more people are ready to render their help free of charge, participating in volunteer projects.

Environmental volunteering is especially popular at Lake Baikal. It's not surprising: concerned people realize that Baikal is a mankind’s common heritage that should be protected and preserved by everyone. There are many organizations and projects involved in environmental volunteering at Lake Baikal. I’ve attempted to gather the most significant of them in this article. So, let’s go.

1. “The Great Baikal Trail” Interregional Public Organization is one of the first environmental organizations at Lake Baikal that has been operating since 2003. Every summer GBT organizes two-week projects on the construction of ecological trails in specially protected natural reservations (SPNRs) around Baikal. A team of volunteers headed by a team leader goes to a reserve, a game reserve or a national park. The volunteers live in tents, cook food on a bonfire with their own hands, lay new trails and repair the existing ones using shovels and pick-axes, saws and pruning scissors. Of course, each new route is planned in collaboration with the representatives of the protected area where it will pass, and the trails are constructed only in those places where they are really needed.

Projects are attended not only by Russian volunteers: foreigners often come to construct trails at Baikal, so these projects can be called international. That is, if you decide to participate in a GBT project, you will not only contribute to the conservation of the Baikal nature, visit the protected areas of the region and engage in physical activities, but also get an excellent practice in foreign languages, get acquainted with the culture of other peoples and make friends all over the world.

During the cold season of the year, when it becomes difficult to construct trails, GBT organizes winter projects. Volunteers are also helping the SPNRs: they develop brochures and information stands, write articles and translate texts, organize ecological lessons and help to hold various events.

Last autumn GBT successfully launched the projects on restoration and arrangement of springs on the island of Olkhon.

How to become a volunteer of the “Great Baikal Trail”?
If you have any questions, please contact the coordinator: +7 950 131 23 53, projects@greatbaikaltrail.org.

Let’s Make It Happen: How to Become a Volunteer at Lake Baikal2. “My Baikal” Public Environmental Organization has been carrying out campaigns on garbage collection titled “The Holiday of Cleanliness” for 5 years. The event involving both visiting volunteers and local residents covers the island of Olkhon - the largest island on Lake Baikal, the coast of the Maloe More Strait, the coast of the village of Listvyanka and other parts of the lake’s coast that are most severely affected by the influx of tourists.

“The Holiday of Cleanliness” is held at the beginning of summer and lasts for five days. The participants of the campaign do not simply clean up the garbage, they sort it as much as possible. Volunteers are engaged in environmental education:  they try to convey the importance of responsible attitude to the environment to tourists and local residents.

Pensioners, students and schoolchildren from all over Irkutsk Oblast come to help Baikal and take part in the campaign. Entire working teams and families are coming. About 13,000 garbage bags have  been collected over the years of the existence of “The Holiday of Cleanliness”. Volunteers have cleaned up several large illegal dumpings.

How to become a volunteer: You can learn about the campaign at the web site of the “My Baikal”  organization (https://mbaikal.ru/), if you want to take part in “The Holiday of Cleanliness”, please call the coordinator by the phone +7 (914) 926 87 69 or write an e-mail to: moi.baikal@mail.ru.

Let’s Make It Happen: How to Become a Volunteer at Lake Baikal3. “Give the Planet a Life!" Charitable Foundation emerged in 2012. During the 6 years of the Foundation’s existence its volunteers have planted a huge number of trees in the Kaiskaya relict grove and in the public garden on the Nizhnyaya Embankment in Irkutsk.

In 2015 the Foundation has created another important project titled “Plant a Tee -- Give a Life to Olkhon” aimed at the restoration of forests on the island of Olkhon that were damaged by fires and uncontrolled tourist flow. More than 40,000 pine seedlings have been planted at Olkhon by volunteers of the Foundation by now.

Another important activity of the Foundation is the “Ecological Patrol” project with its goal to inform tourists taking the ferry to the island of Olkhon. Volunteers tell tourists about the sacred role of the island, about the rules of behavior on the territory of the Pribaikalsky National Park. The task of the volunteers is to reduce the number of environmental violation by increasing the ecological awareness of the population. Travels to the island are held every week from May to September, the duration of each trip makes up three or four days, the teams of volunteers change each other.

How to become a volunteer: Next September the Foundation will organize a labor camp for volunteers on Olkhon. During the period of the camp it is planned to plant 30,000 trees. This will make it possible to complete the reforestation works on the territory damaged by the fires 10 years ago.

Registration for participation in the camp will start in June on the Foundation’s website (https://www.ppjizn.ru/), enrolment of volunteers wishing to participate in the “Ecological Patrol” will be opened in March. You can ask all questions of interest by the phone: +7 (964) 279 34 29.

Volunteers’ assistance is also necessary for specially protected natural areas of the Baikal region.

4. The “Baikal Nature Game Reserve” FSBI is always happy to see volunteers within volunteer teams coming for the construction of trails under the “Great Baikal Trail” project. The reserve is also waiting for volunteers who are ready to work remotely: they need help in writing educational programs, there is some work for specialists in the field of PR and design. If remote volunteering is a success and you show yourself as a real expert, then the reserve’s staff will be glad to see you at their place.

How to become a volunteer: If you want to ask questions about volunteering, please call: 8 (301 38) 93-7-41, +7 (924) 393 00 39, or write an e-mail to: baikalnr@mail.ru.

5. The “Reserved Baikal Region” FSBI consisting of Pribaikalskiy National Park, Baikal-Lena Nature Reserve, “Tofalarsky” and “Krasny Yar” game reserves, is planning to hold three 10-day volunteer camps next summer. Volunteers will engage in clearing and arranging ecological trails in the National Park in the areas of Sukhaya, Khargino and Zama. The terms of arranging camps and the conditions for participation in them will be published on the web site of the “Reserved Baikal Region” in the near future.

If the dates of the camps are not convenient for you, but you still want to help the SPNR, there will be some work available both in the office and on the reserve territory.

How to become a volunteer: all questions can be asked by the phone: 8 (3952) 35-06-15 (you will be connected to the Department of Environmental Education) by an e-mail to blgz-pnp@mail.ru.

6. “Reserved Podlemorye” controlling three protected areas - Barguzinsky Reserve (the first reserve of the country), Zabaykalsky National Park and Frolikhinsky Game reserve  - also needs who’ll work as guides (the knowledge of English is highly appreciated!) on the Ushkanyi islands and in Barguzinsky Reserve.

The help is also necessary in dealing with the scientific department’s archives, territory improvement and organization of separate waste collection, accompanying the groups during field works, carrying out environmental protection events and holidays, art and design works and creating art objects, processing and creating photo and video materials.

How to become a volunteer: Please call: 8 (30131) 91-5-78 (and ask to connect you to the Department of Environmental Education) or write an e-mail to: ecopros@pdmr.ru.

Have you long dreamed to try yourself as a volunteer and to contribute to preservation of unique nature of Baikal, but have not known where to begin? Now there is no such excuse.JSee you during volunteering projects!

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