In the 1980s central and local authorities, scholars and the public started to collaborate more with international organizations for Lake Baikal protection. In December 1988 the Presidium of Irkutsk Scientific Center, Siberian Department, approved the final document worked out by their Working Group - the application for Lake Baikal inclusion on the List of World Heritage on the basis of the Convention concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage ratified by the USSR in March 1988. As we know, the question was settled in 1996.
The role play on the topic of Baikal protection and all-Union socio-environmental expertise «Baikal» were held in Listvyanka in 1988. Over 300 people attended it: scholars from Moscow and Buryatia, the representatives of the public and the members of the Soviet bodies. The expertise came to the conclusion that it is incorrect to consider and try to solve the problems of Baikal region without new environmental orientation in the world development. Examination experts proposed a number of practical measures to improve the situation but the subsequent changes in Russia’s development did not allow implementing them (see 345, p. 180, 188). International Baikal protection projects began to develop mainly after the fall of the Iron Curtain between the USSR and Western countries in the period of perestroika («reconstruction»). American and Russian Protection Centers for the lakes Verkhneye and Baikal were founded in 1990. Nick Smith, one of the project organizers from the USA gave the interview to the newspaper «Pravda Buryatii» («Buryatia’s Truth») in November 1990 where he spoke about the plans for joint activity in terms of displays and exhibitions exchange, new tourist routes for international environmental groups that will clean rivers and Baikal coasts, cooperation in publishing activity.
Baikal International Center for Environmental Studies as an international non-governmental organization and an open institute was officially opened in Irkutsk in early December 1990 at the meeting of USSR Siberian Department of Academy of Sciences Presidium held after the constituent conference. The center relied on the material and instrumental base of the Limnological Institute. 23 influential scholars of the USSR, the USA, Belgium, Britain and the PRC formed the Research Centre Council (133, pp. 414).
The international symposium «Baikal - Natural Laboratory for the Study of Environmental and Climatic Changes» was held in Irkutsk in May 1994. It was organized by the Limnological Institute belonging to the Siberian Department of Russian Academy of Sciences (Irkutsk), the Royal Museum of Central Africa (Belgium). The symposium was sponsored by the International Association supporting cooperation with scholars from the NIS and Russia.
The purpose of the symposium was to familiarize with the results of Siberian and foreign scientists’ work in the sphere of organizing large-scale research of Lake Baikal as a unique phenomenon. The international workshop «Baikal Region as a World Model Territory of Sustainable Development» organized by the SD RAS, German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, the government of Buryatia and the NATO department of scientific and the environmental issues took place in September 1994 in Ulan-Ude.
“Baikal as a Natural Laboratory for the Research of Global Environmental and Climate Changes” – an international conference under this title was held in Irkutsk in May 1995. 250 scientists from Belgium, Britain, Germany, Italy, the USA, Finland, France, Russia and Ukraine attended the conference. Leading world experts discussed various aspects of the current state of Lake Baikal. The conference program included more than 40 presentations, 135 poster presentations, panel discussions, round tables, debates, excursions to Lake Baikal. Such activities are being implemented nowadays on both sides of the lake, including more and more people from different countries and of different nationalities into those taking care of the holy sea. Some specific activities and events that resulted from such relationships will be discussed in the section «Multi-lingual mosaic of Lake Baikal».
The arrival of astronauts from various countries could be called a pleasant quintessence of international «invasion» of Lake Baikal. It happened on 12-14 August 1994 when the second part of the 10th World Congress of cosmonauts and astronauts (Moscow), entitled «Earth. Space. Environment» was held at Lake Baikal and in Ulan-Ude. «Fields’ attraction, land attraction» this time touched the sacred sea. I myself, being at that time a Vice-Chairman of Buryat National Hural (Buryat parliament), together with the Vice-Chairman of Buryat government L. Nimaeva, was lucky to meet astronauts in Turka village, where they arrived by two hovercraft from the port of Baikal. Locals saw with their own eys so many heroes who had been able to see the Earth from space for the first time. They feasted their eyes on such famous people as T.S. Titov, G.T. Beregovoy, A.A. Leonov, P.R. Popovich and others. From the first minutes cosmonauts and astronauts from 26 countries stepped on Baikal land they did not just admire the beauty of it or recollected how Baikal looked from space but also they were concerned about the future of the great lake.
The meetings of 10th Congress continued in the rooms of Scientific Centre and the lecture-halls of Buryat governmental buldings. Many good ideas and thoughts were voiced there. American astronaut Mary Cleave, comparing her expectations with what she had seen from space, emphasized that our Earth is very small, and it should be protected and cherished. This fact was a stimulus for the creation of space program «Mission to the Planet Earth». E. Oldrin – American astronaut, who was on the Moon, walked on its surface and saw its lifeless landscape, was imbued with the same thoughts as M. Cleve had been. The Earth is our cosmic home, our common spaceplane, on which the mankind travels the eternal journey among the stars in the universe –many astronauts understood this idea and agreed to it, and they tried to bring it home to their listeners. They also emphasized that we constantly pollute our only home floating in the interstellar space by various industrial and household waste, by emissions and garbage, we accelerate the process leading to the collapse of our spaceplane and of life on the planet.
The congress participants accepted the «Address to the World Community», in which they expressed their views about Baikal that would stay a precious pearl forever, the pearl which would decorate the spaceship named «Earth».
If we touch the spesific contribution of all the “space” people into solving ecological problems of the lake, it is worth mentioning the space observations of Lake Baikal natural territory, which have been conducted with the help of satellites for many years. In particular, space monitoring is performed every day. Its data are recently published on the site «Lake Baikal Protection» and searched for by thousands unique users every month. Those who research the change of natural conditions of Baikal natural territory use information to solve scientific and practical issues. [see 96, pp. 286-287]. It should be said that it was cosmounauts who brought the first photos of Lake Baikal taken from space, on which one can see drying up forests in the areas of working paper plants and a spreading yellow spot in the Selenga delta.
The project for the creation of Rehabilitation Center for Astronauts that is supposed to be built on the eastern shore of the lake-sea, at Goryachinsk resort, was the innovation for Baikal region. The astronauts, after being on the orbit, will be sent for post-flight rehabilitation to the RCA, where, along with the latest technologies, Tibetan medicine is used, including massage, acupuncture, girudo and aromatherapy. The program of cooperation for the period of 2009-2011 worked out by the institutions of the republic and the Cosmonauts Training Center named after Yuri Gagarin, lists cooperation in three main directions. These include the creation of a special branch for astronauts’ rehabilitation; aerospace monitoring of the republic’s territory (geology, ecology, territorial planning of economy); education. Buryat authorities are interested in making the maps of geological breaks on the basis of aerospace photography, forests monitoring (in terms of fires, deforestation, preservation of national parks and special natural areas) and earthquakes monitoring (especially, it concerns the Baikal rift zone). Within the framework of the educational program it is being planned to build youth aviation and space park «Kosmocentre».
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