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Bison Resettlement, Conservation of Rare Birds and Stocking of Rivers: Big Industry on a Rescue Mission

Date of publication: 6 August 2021

Transneft Upper Volga Eco Projects

In the hi-tech era the environmental issues are very extremely pressing in Russia. The issues of the air pollution, the depletion of rivers and rapid decline in the population of rare animals, birds and sea life are daily addressed by environmental agencies and numerous non-government organisations.  Fortunately, large companies, which take a responsible approach towards the environment help them out more and more, Transneft Upper Volga being one of them for many years already.

The Great Bison Migration

“Near Threatened” is the current international status of the European bison. These big animals are rarely found in wild nature, given that most animals of the species were decimated by poachers in the 20th century. Yet now, a great effort is taken in Russia to preserve the bison population, with Transneft actively involved. In particular, the Company helps national parks with the resettlement of rare cloven-hoofed mammal species and has been financially supporting Meshchera National Park since 2014.

During this time the bison population of the nature reserve in the territory of Vladimir Region has increased from 47 to 105 species, reaching its limit, hence young animals are resettled to new territories where the essential feeds and security are available.

Thus, in December 2020 eight bison were resettled from the Murom reserve to the Mordovian State Reserve. Five more animals, four females and a calf, were transported to the national park of Gus-Khrustalny, Vladimir Region. It is worth mentioning that the bison trapping enclosure in the Murom Nature Reserve was built in 2019 with support of Transneft Upper Volga; the company has also helped to set up an entire cluster of enclosures in the Gus-Khrustalny area near Vladimir.  As early as the autumn of 2019, the first bison nicknamed Meresk settled down here after being transported from the nursery garden of the Oka Nature Reserve.  Here the bison will be able to start its own herd. This territory may soon turn into a popular tourist attraction. This June the first bison calf has been born here.

Stocking Main Rivers

Another area of the environmental effort made by responsible companies is artificial reproduction of aquatic biological resources.   This means the stocking of large rivers with juveniles of rare fish species. Transneft has implemented an entire programme targeting biodiversity conservation in the territories of the Company’s operation. In July 2021, Transneft Upper Volga has released 130,000 sterlet juveniles into Oka in Vladimir Region. Overall, about 9 million juveniles have been released in all regions of the Company’s operation since 2011, with more than RUB 25 million allocated for this project.

According to the head of the environmental section at Transneft Upper Volga Irina Chernyaeva, every year the company draws up an application with the requisite number of juveniles of various species and the planned stocking location.  The document is endorsed by the Russian Federal Agency for Fishery, followed by an e-auction to name a contractor. The fish grow another 3-4 months and after their weight reaches 3.5 g, they are brought to the release site. The juveniles are assessed by an employee of the Russian Federal Agency for Fishery; only after that they are released into the waters. In 2021 and 2022, Transneft Upper Volga will continue its work on the stocking of Russian rivers and reservoirs with sterlet, silver carp and wild carp juveniles.

Rare Bird Species under Surveillance

In April 2021, Transneft Upper Volga installed stationary equipment to work towards the improvement of the nesting conditions for rare bird species in Nizhny Novgorod Region.  With the assistance of the Company's specialists, ornithologists set up a webcam on the nesting platform used by the ospreys. This equipment helped them monitor the nesting and breeding of these birds of prey.

And in July ornithologists together with employees of the environmental section at Transneft Upper Volga attached a GPS tracker to an osprey chick, as part of the pilot project. Now specialists can monitor baby ospreys using satellites.

The initiative to monitor ospreys, the red-listed birds of prey, was taken by the Green Peace, a regional organisation in Nizhny Novgorod. In its turn, the company allocated the money needed for equipment procurement.

Ospreys are known to migrate in winter from the European part of Russia to North Africa, but every year they come back to their homeland to breed. Experts will track the migration routes of these birds, as part of the new project.

It should be noted that the bird monitoring project is not the only one financed by the company. In 2018, with support of Transneft Upper Volga, 80 artificial nests for ospreys, great gray owls, Ural owls, Tengmalm's owls and pygmy owls were set up to improve the nesting conditions of rare avian species. Overall, about 80 rare bird species nest in the wetlands of Lyskovsk and Vorotynsk districts where the petroleum products pipeline is laid. Similar activities were performed in Pavlovo, Dalnekonstantinovsky and Bogorodsk areas where Transneft also operates its pipelines.

As a matter of fact, nests were not set up randomly, but solely on the trees suitable in size for birds to nest.

EcoSaturday

Another important part of environmental activities for Transneft Upper Volga is greening of the Russian regions. In H1 of 2021, alone the Company planted 5,500 poles and shrubs in Nizhny Novgorod, Vladimir, Ivanovo and Ryazan regions, Mari El and in the Moscow area, with more than 3,000 nurslings procured and planted within the EcoSaturday action held every year. Transneft Upper Volga uses this social project to draw everybody’s attention to the environmental issues.

The rest 2,300 trees and shrubs were provided by forestry services, so they currently grow on the forestry lands.  They were planted by the Company’s employees during eco Saturdays. The landscaping work will continue this year.

Given the current situation across the globe, environmental issues can no longer be ignored, and at Transneft Upper Volga they are aware of this. Transneft Upper Volga pays great attention to the formation of a responsible attitude to nature, as well as to the support of environmental programmes and projects in the field of environmental safety. And this year Transneft has become a counselor of the Climate and Ecology thematic month. The Year of Science & Technology has been announced in Russia pursuant to the Decree of President Vladimir Putin, dated 25 December 2020, to lure young talent to academic research and to enhance the involvement of the professional community in implementing Russia’s Strategy for Scientific and Technological Development.   Another objective of this project is raising the public awareness of the initiative taken by the government in the field of science and technology.

Transneft Upper Volga is going to follow through with its environmental projects.

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