Q and A with Galya

Shannon Kellman, Development and Communications Associate at Pacific Environment, sat down with Galina Angarova, the Grants Administrator for the Russia Program at Pacific Environment to talk about Galina’s recent trip to the Altai Region and Altai Republic in Russia.  They talked about the work the Galina and Pacific Environment’s partners are doing in Altai to protect Sacred Sites and biodiversity.

SK: Why are the Altai Region and Republic so important?

GA: They are very critical because of the biodiversity there.  They are critical places with beautiful animals and plants, and very important culturally. There’s a place called the Ukok plateau. It’s a place with thousands of petroglyphs, dating back thousands of years ago.  There are traces Pazyryk culture found and this is the place with the famous Ukok princess was found, completely preserved with all of her ammunition, clothes, and utensils.

SK: What were the highlights of your trip?

GA: The highlights were the meetings with our main partners in the field, the Fund 21 Century Altai, the Foundation for Sustainable Development Altai and the School of Sustainable Energy Tengrit.  The highlights were meeting with those people, and my trip to Ukok.  Also, my trip to the Chemal region, where the Katun damn was going to be built.  It’s a place where people come for tours and conferences on alternative energy.

SK: How have recent events (the dam explosion) affected work in the Altai region?

GA: That’s a difficult question.  The supply of electricity comes from that region which means that this will generate an electricity shortage.  With the energy situation, it aggravates the whole issue.  The energy sources, particularly for the Altai region, are very scarce, and some percent comes from the exploded damn.  Other sources are coal plants and the gas pipeline from Gorno-Altaisk, and they are building a gas fire plant, which would significantly impact the electricity supply.  In terms of how it affects the environment, there’s a pipeline in the Altai Region that goes through the Altai Republic.  With the explosion, people can come back to construct to plans to make a dam in the Republic of Altai, which is really bad news.

SK: In your assessment, what have the Altai people done well in protecting their environment?

GA: Well, in terms of recent successes, we’ve been doing this project together on sacred sites registration and land registration into communal use registration.  We are also working to promote this law on broader level for sacred sites preservation and that will give another level of protection.

SK: What were your goals in meeting with our partners there?

GA: Just to getting to know, learning what happening on the ground, participating in the conference, and updating our partners on our grant from the National Science Foundation and working with them on reporting.  I went there as a grants manager and someone who is working on the reporting of Altai.

SK: What else do they need to be doing to accomplish their goals?  What’s the next step?

GA: I think we’re already working on the next direction.  Just doing what we’re doing.  The next step is our conference at the end of this year.  It will bring together 50 people from the Altai Region and Republic.  It will be to talk about sacred sites preservation, to replicate this experience in other regions, particularly Kamchatka and the Russian Arctic.  We will be working on methodology for sacred sites preservation. A book will be released sometime later this year which details the process.

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