03 May 2006, 11:57
by Aline Prentice
Club Firn, a non-governmental organization founded in 1988, is seeking volunteers for our 3rd annual nature work camp in one of the most beautiful hidden corners of Lake Baikal.
The goal of the camp is to renovate the Bolshoi Chivyrkui Rangers' Station of the Zabaikalsky National Park, a strategically important site for the protection of the unique Baikal freshwater seal, the nerpa. We are forming a group of 8-12 volunteers for the project. As a participant, you will make a significant contribution to the park and will experience one of the most fascinating areas of Baikal's nature.
Last year, volunteers from Germany's DaimlerChrysler and Lufthansa corporations worked in Bolshoi Chivirkui to remove over 100 cubic meters of trash, built a new pier to receive boats, and dismantled old buildings. Now the site is ready for major structural work to restore the roof and main building.
The station was built in 1916 by park rangers as the entrance point of the Barguzinsky Nature Reserve, the first protected natural area in Russia. The Reserve was founded by the order of Czar Nicholas II with the goal of protecting the sable, which was hunted to near extinction. The first expedition arrived to found the reserve in 1914, and the Bolshoi Chivirkui site was selected for its strategically important location. It has an excellent vantage point from which rangers can observe and regulate activity on Chivirkuiskiy Bay. The location became increasingly important with time. Chivirkuiskiy Bay is now one of the more frequently visited places on Lake Baikal. Close to the station lie the Ushkany Islands, home to the largest colony of nerpa, Baikal's unique freshwater seal. With nerpa populations declining, the station is an important place for rangers to put a stop to nerpa poaching.
The Bolshoi Chivirkui Rangers' Station is an important historical point that is a symbol for the beginning of protected natural areas and thus environmental conservation in our country. Of the four ranger stations built in the 1910's, this is the only one remaining. However, it is in a state of disrepair and almost non-functioning. If it were repaired and adequately equipped, it would allow rangers to reside in the station on a permanent basis and more effectively regulate activity such as fishing, nerpa hunting, and visits to make sure environmental requirements are met. Rangers could also serve as guides and resources for visitors and raise awareness of environmental issues among the public. By enhancing park control over the site and tourist amenities, environmentally sustainable tourism can be developed in the area.
Help us to realize our goal and experience one of the most beautiful areas of Baikal!
The price: 250 Euro (transportation to and from site from Ulan Ude, meals and camping equipment)
Time frame: 20-30 June 2006
Location: Chivyrkiuisky Bay on Lake Baikal. Tent camping will be set up near the site. Accommodation in tents.
For more details visit www.baikaladventures.ru/eng/tours/volonteerZNP.htm or e-mail us