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The Sacred Earth Network Newsletter - Spring 2000

Issue #14


Face to Face Exchanges Complement Cyber-Activism
SEN Petersham News
Northern Eurasia Environmental Assistance Program Update
NEEAP Regional and Thematic Updates
Book Review: Believing Cassandra
Environmental Law Exchange
Deep Ecology Page
The Earth Experiences Program
Native Peoples & SEN
Preserved Lands Have Their Rights
The Northern Eurasian Snow Leopard Project - Phase II + Action Alert
Northern Eurasian NGOs Enter the Biotech Debate
SEN and Friends Address Putin on Russian NGO Harassment
Earth Day 2000

On April 22 millions of people from all over the world participated in Earth Day 2000. Although it's easy to say, "It was only a day. Will it have any real impact?" the fact that so many people care is very heartening. It appears we humans may be waking up at the 11th hour, and for those of us at SEN who have been working on environmental issues for over 15 years, Earth Day 2000 had a redemptive quality. We have been insisting that there can be no real human development without a radical re-assessment of our place in Nature. Hopefully, the large-scale sentiment of Earthday will be translated into large scale action. We also hope the varied articles of this newsletter show that SEN's role within the environmental movement remains as necessary as ever. - The Editors

SEN Open House and Blessing of Our New Office Space

Friday June 9th at 4PM

Come see our beautiful new SEN office expansion, and help us bless our new space. A ceremony will happen at 5:30PM and will be followed by a vegetarian potluck at 6:30PM. You are welcome to come chat with the staff and browse our office starting at 4PM. Please RSVP - Shanti <[email protected]> 978-724-3443

Ukok Plateau, Altai, Southern Siberia - See page 12 for an urgent action alert to protect Snow Leopard habitat on the Ukok Plateau (Photo - Vyacheslav Trigubovich)

Face to Face Exchanges Complement Cyber-Activism

In the last year an exciting new focus of SEN's work has taken off organizing professional exchanges between environmental advocates in the United States and northern Eurasia. Although we have been supporting environmental advocates in northern Eurasia for fifteen years, in the last year we have hosted more groups in the US and brought more US colleagues to northern Eurasia than we did during SEN's first 15 years. This is infusing new energy into both our work and the work of our northern Eurasian colleagues. Below and on page 15 are two articles about recent exchanges. In addition, later this year we will be bringing a group of sustainable design and alternative energy experts to the US. Be sure to contact us if you want to be involved in some way!

SEN Brings Northern Eurasian Conservationists to New England

In October, 1999, five leaders in biodiversity protection, four of whom are SEN's regional Northern Eurasia Environmental Assistance Program (NEEAP) coordinators, visited SEN in Massachusetts. We toured New England together, meeting with organizations in their fields of interest, speaking at universities and public events, and brainstorming about how to implement NEEAP regional projects even more effectively. Never before had all the NEEAP coordinators gathered; in fact, most of them had never met before. Below is a listing of the five conservationists who visited:

· Vladimir Zykov, League of Independent Experts, Petropavlovsk (Kamchatka)

· Alexander Arbachakov, Agency for Research and Protection of the Taiga, Mezhdurechensk (Southern Siberia)

· Vyacheslav Trigubovich, Siberian Interregional Center, "Zapovedniki," Novosibirsk (Southern Siberia)

· Yuri Skochilov, Youth EcoCenter, Dushanbe, Tajikistan (Tien Shan)

· Nana Janashia, Georgian Center for Conservation of Wildlife (Caucasus)

The exchange began with a two-day brainstorming and planning session, which proved to be extremely valuable. Although each regional sub-project of NEEAP has evolved in different ways, the regional coordinators found common problems in implementing their NEEAP sub-projects, and they shared their various approaches to addressing these problems. They also developed proposed plans for continuation of their projects in 2000, and agreed upon specific ideas for inter-regional cooperation.

After these sessions at SEN, the group set off for meetings and presentations in western Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Boston and Cape Cod. They participated in meetings at fifteen government and non-governmental organizations, spoke (and held slide shows) at three colleges and universities, and held additional evening slide-show/public events on two occasions. Highlights of the program included:

· A warm and productive reception and meeting with the Student Conservation Association (SCA). SCA offered specific proposals for cooperation with the exchange participants.

· An inspirational meeting and tour with the Superintendent of Cape Cod National Seashore (CCNS), Maria Burks. Ms. Burks has visited Russian nature reserves and speaks Russian. All exchange participants found her perspective on comparisons between Russian and US conservation systems, as well as CCNS's successful examples of cooperation between the park and surrounding communities, very interesting and useful.

·A full house at the evening slide-show and reception at the Amherst Women's Club. The approximately fifty attendees included a researcher ecologist seeking contacts in Kamchatka, an NGO activist wanting to organize a bird conservation tour in Siberia, and a student interested in serving as a volunteer intern at a Russian nature reserve.

SEN Petersham News

Finally, a year of building is done! SEN now has a "NEEAP room" solely devoted to our work in northern Eurasia, a kitchen and bathroom that is used exclusively by SEN staff (previously we shared a kitchen and bath with the residents next door which was increasingly becoming a burden on them), and the installation of a 300 watt solar electric system that is ready for expansion. Our goal is to eventually power all our office equipment directly from the sun!

While all this construction was going on we hired 2 new staff members, Alyson Ewald and Liza Antley. Alyson and Liza will be working with Susan Cutting, NEEAP's Project Director, to create an even more effective NEEAP team. Liza will concentrate on fundraising and Alyson on project coordination. Welcome Liza and Alyson!

After many years of being understaffed and underspaced SEN now has a greatly increased capacity to provide more effective support services: not only in the former USSR but in the USA as well, because now we have the ability to run two programs simultaneously. The extra space will allow the Earth Experiences Program to flower on its own without being constrained by a competition for limited office space.

New SEN staff members Liza Antley and Alyson Ewald in front of new office addition

Northern Eurasia Environmental Assistance Program (NEEAP) Update

NEEAP brought fresh creativity to SEN's partners from Kamchatka to Kyiv, and the Tian Shan to Yerevan. While technical assistance remained consistent throughout the regions, the approaches taken to catalyzing the emergence of networks diversified. This opened the doors to broader and more active participation by the project's members. In Southern Siberia, the Tian Shan and Kamchatka this new approach was embodied in decentralized and more proactive smaller subprojects. In the Caucasus and with the Sustainable Design and Environmental Law NEEAP themes, coordinators focused on reaching a wider audience through cooperatively producing and distributing electronic and printed publications and web sites. SEN's US staff revitalized its involvement in seeking western partners and contacts for NEEAP participants through exchanges, complementing the increasingly regionally driven initiatives with international perspective and expertise.

A selection of NEEAP achievements in 1999:

· Organized 7 meetings of NEEAP Regional coordinating councils and working groups emphasizing coalition-building and cooperative project development and implementation. 3 of them were held as "virtual meetings," over the Internet

· Held 8 non-technical seminars on topics selected by regional councils ranging from environmental "expertiza" assessments to environmental journalism.

· Established 32 e-mail stations, including 25 full computer systems, 7 "modem-only" grants, and 3 partially upgraded e-mail stations

· Paid temporary support covering the Internet accounts for 30 organizations

· Issued small grants to 21 organizations and individuals for implementing regional collaborative initiatives

· Organized 55 on-site e-mail training/technical support visits and small group training sessions by 9 technical consultants. Held computer and Internet trainings for larger groups on 5 occasions and one training for trainers in Moscow

· Compiled and distributed 10 extensive e-mail newsletters and 1 brief daily electronic bulletin. Expanded 8 Web Sites

· Provided innumerable fundraising and contact referrals for northern Eurasian environmental nongovernmental environmental organizations (NGOs)

· Brought 5 northern Eurasian conservationists to the US on an exchange/publicity tour of southern New England. Co-sponsored a US student's participation in youth environmental exchange program in the Altai mountains of Southern Siberia. Sponsored 5 interregional exchanges bringing: 2 Moscow environmental lawyers to Almaty and Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, 2 environmental "expertiza" assessment specialists from Moscow to Novokuznetsk, and 1 Kamchatka conservation specialist to the Russian Environmental Congress.

NEEAP Regional and Thematic Updates

Association of Environmental Organizations of the Tian Shan (Regional Component of NEEAP)

The Association of Environmental Organizations of the Tian Shan (AEOTS) have formed a fresh initiative using existing resource centers of the region to provide technical and organizational support to environmental NGOs. In 1999, four "country teams" produced electronic and printed newsletters and held organizational trainings and environmental awareness seminars. AEOTS also selected a strong team to train people on computers and Internet use and solve technical problems. And after Ecotok's training for trainers in Moscow, the Tian Shan tech team really took off!

On the non-technical front, AEOTS member groups such as The Nature Lovers Club, Club Era, and "Independent Environmental 'Expertiza,'" held organizational trainings and environmental awareness seminars to help strengthen the capacity of Kyrghiz environmental NGOs and the effectiveness of governmental environmental protection authorities. These events included:

· A series of workshops entitled "Monitoring the Environment and Improving the Potential for Management"

·A seminar on environmental journalism

· A round table entitled "Developing Mechanisms and Procedures for Public Participation in Economic Decision-Making

· A seminar on "Defending Environmental Rights: Current Practice and an Analysis of Problems"

AEOTS members were particularly creative in reaching a broader circle of people with information on Tian Shan environmental issues and NGO activities. Andrei Safonov of Bishkek <[email protected]> distributed extensive electronic bulletins, the Youth EcoCenter of Dushanbe <[email protected]> produced several editions of its popular "Tabiat" environmental newsletter, and the Ecological Press Center of Almati <[email protected]> sent out daily electronic news announcements. In Uzbekistan, EcoInform began developing a series of environmental education short films, and environmental awareness bulletin boards were set up in several locations. In 2000, AEOTS plans to apply their energies towards raising public awareness of protected natural areas of the region and providing support to the communities that surround them.

Woman from Tian Shan (photo by Vladimir Shakula)

Southern Siberia Conservation Initiative (SSCI)

For SSCI, the theme in 1999 was public outreach: region-wide efforts were sponsored to help NGOs reach the broader public through the mass-media and events, and to introduce "new blood" into SSCI members' projects. Alexander Arbachakov of the Agency for Research and Protection of the Taiga <[email protected]> visited Tuva to seek out potential green Internet station locations, and three SSCI member groups from Tomsk, Novosibirsk and Barnaul held Earth Day events in their cities and in 6 smaller towns involving more than 600 students and teachers. INECA <[email protected]> held a seminar on defending environmental rights. They brought specialists from Moscow and Tomsk, and 20 environmental NGO representatives from five of the region's oblasts attended.

SSCI also chose to widen their circles using the press and the World Wide Web. Tatyana Artamonova of Fund for 21st Century Altai in Barnaul <[email protected]> and four journalists from other regions of Southern Siberia provided the media with facts about environmental issues of Southern Siberia. Their efforts resulted in articles in no less than 6 newspapers in addition to TV and radio stations. Two web sites in Barnaul were also expanded: Andrei Strel'nikov, of Young Journalists of the Altai, compiled and posted an "Internet Brochure" on environmental issues of the Altai at <>, and Elena Repetunova of Altai State University Ecoclub developed a web page on environmental outdoor education programs in the Altai at <>.

Kamchatka Network for NGO Nature Protection Initiatives

On April 10, 2000, over 20 participants of the Kamchatka Network gathered in the village of Sosnovka, Kamchatka, where our hosts, the Pimchakh Itelman Community, <pimchakh@elrus.> organized a

feast celebrating the network's emergence. After introducing ourselves around the long table, two indigenous youth dance collectives performed in their traditional garb as we enjoyed delightful local dishes.

1999 proved to be yet another year of success for the network: SEN and our Kamchatka partners established 6 e-mail stations, organized a seminar on environmental and indigenous rights, and helped cover e-mail expenses for 9 Kamchatka groups. Regional Coordinator, Vladimir Zykov, <zapoved@elrus.> made on-site technical support and training visits to groups in 6 towns. In addition, small grants were issued to support the publication of the Aborigines of Kamchatka Newspaper, purchase equipment for youth environmental field programs near Esso, and organize educational seminars in Petropavlovsk and the surrounding towns. The Northern Pacific web page <> was also expanded to include translations of articles in Russian and English. The next phase of SEN's Kamchatka Project began this spring with a conference on biodiversity protection on Kamchatka. SEN brought David Johns of the Wildlands Project to speak, along with 10 Kamchatka ecologists, biologists and other specialists in nature protection. The conference participants developed a number of recommendations for improving systems for protecting Kamchatka's extensive and rich wilderness. Upcoming activities of the Kamchatka network include supporting environmental education and public awareness activities, electronic and printed publications, and organizational development training and consulting.

Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN) Expands!

1999 was a year of expansion for CENN. Regional Coordinator, Nana Janashia <[email protected]> and Maka Manjavidze (Georgia Center for Conservation of Nature, GCCW), continued to work closely with Enver Safar-Zade (ISAR Baku) and Anna Hovhanisyan (Youth Initiatives Support Center, Yerevan) gathering articles from environmental NGOs of the region and producing the monthly bi-lingual Caucasus Environmental News (CEN). This on average 25 page electronic newsletter has become an increasingly popular resource on environmental news of the region. Early in the year, CENN opened its membership to organizations in the Russian Caucasus as well as Turkey and Iran. CEN gained an overwhelming number of new subscribersit now reaches 211 e-mail addresses!

CENN also established five green Internet stations in the Caucasus and helped 6 NGOs cover their e-mail accounts. Nana traveled to Baku and met with 17 Azeri environmental groups to promote and consult with them about CENN.

In early 2000, GCCW was issued a grant from USAID through DevTech for continued production of the newsletter and holding two region-wide seminars. Congratulations GCCW!

Argali Sheep, an endangered species living in Tian Shan (photo by Vladimir Shakula)

Environmental Law Initiative

This collaborative effort of Ecojuris Institute and Ecotok aims to strengthen the network of environmental lawyers in Russia by sharing information on developments in environmental legislation, litigation, and enforcement.

With Alexander Veselov of Ecojuris Institute (Moscow) serving as the Coordinator, key areas in information gathering and distribution among members of the Russian Environmental Law Network were identified and strengthened. In December the first edition of ASSEL-INFO (Association of Russian Environmental Lawyers Information Bulletin) was produced. This five-page monthly electronic newsletter includes updates on changes in Russian environmental legislation, court cases defending environmental rights across Russia, publications and news on Ecojuris programs. In addition, a listserv was established to facilitate communication among network members.

Another important development is the ongoing overhaul of the Russian Environmental Law Network website. Alexander and his colleagues have gathered and posted important trial documents and other information from NGOs and lawyers on defending environmental rights. Boris Fomin of Ecotok has made other major improvements to the site, and significant portions are now being translated into English, to encourage collaboration with activists and attorneys outside Russia.

In another major move to expand international cooperation on northern Eurasian environmental law issues, SEN organized and sponsored a visit to the US this February for three Russian environmental lawyers, who were able to meet and share ideas with colleagues and prospective partners from Vermont to Washington, DC [see article on p. 15]. SEN plans to complete the exchange by sending a US specialist in conservation/forestry law to northern Eurasia within the next year.

Sustainable Design and Energy Project Gains Momentum

Northern Eurasians working to promote and implement sustainable design now have a new resource for ideas and inspiration. In Kyiv this spring as part of SEN's Sustainable Design & Energy project, Bogdan Popov and Oleg Listopad published and distributed the first issue of a journal called Ecological Design: Practical Solutions to Ecological Problems. The journal is 38 pages long and includes articles, photos, and illustrations concerning sustainable design in northern Eurasia and North America, as well as an invitation to take part in the Earth Day 2000 celebrations focusing on safe energy.

The journal exemplifies the growth of this new NEEAP thematic component, which was initiated in late summer 1999. Bogdan, head of the Permaculture Center in Kyiv, Ukraine, was selected as the Information Coordinator. He worked throughout the fall and winter to find the best way to reach a growing number of people interested in this topic and to build together a network for sharing information and expertise.

When this project started he initiated a region-wide discussion of sustainable design issues. In the fall of 1999 he produced and distributed an electronic newsletter on the topic, but felt that a printed publication was needed in order to reach people not yet connected to the Internet, and also to display photos and diagrams of sustainable design projects actually being implemented. "Nothing is more effective in this country than the printed word," said Bogdan.

Additionally, a modem was provided to Ecoville Fund, St. Petersburg, Russia. Ecoville provides information services to regional NGOs, maintains databases, and supports the development of an ecovillage network in Russia. A website on sustainable design is also under construction.

SEN is planning an exchange of specialists in sustainable design, alternative
energy resources, and ecovillage formation. This exchange, to take place later this year, will offer North Americans and northern Eurasians a chance to study the application of these ideas under diverse circumstances and to learn from each other's experience.

The Sustainable Design & Energy project was created to encourage the development and demonstration in northern Eurasia of small-scale, inexpensive and innovative projects that feature sustainable design elements, and to close the information gap that exists between those interested in learning about sustainable approaches and appropriate technology, and those who have been working on developing these alternatives in various regions and want to share their accomplishments. "In the former Soviet Union, there is a deficiency of information about alternative approaches, but on the other hand, many people have been working for years in this field and have accumulated a great deal of valuable experience," says Bogdan.

Through publications, exchanges, and technical support in this area, SEN aims to bring such people together and assist them in their work to promote concepts of sustainable agriculture, architecture, energy use, and whole system design, and to adapt new Western approaches to their own culture and ecosystem.

"The aspiration to construct environmental homes ("Ecohomes") is the human population's reaction to the intensifying ecological crisis. This is a defense mechanism; when danger threatens a biological population, an inclination to survival takes over. This is the activity of biological laws, which humans follow. After all, we are all regular biological beings, and there's no denying it. Having created a great deal of suffering, and having understood that, the human population is beginning to look for ways to survive."

- Igor Ogorodnikov, Novosibirsk, Russia, in an interview for the new Russian-language journal "Ecological Design"

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