MURAVIOVKA PARK FOR SUSTAINABLE LAND USE
INVITES INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEERS
TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR PROJECTS IN 2019
Those who have already visited the park can tell you why people call it “The Island of Hope” and “The Land Where Crane Dance and Children Laugh,” why people write poems and songs about this place, and why in 1998 its volunteers from different countries established the first international group in support of a natural area in Russia – the Friends of Muraviovka Park. Read Zhuravl. FOMP annual bulletin at:
Muraviovka Park was established in 1994 on 16 000 acres of wetland and arable lands leased by the International Socio-ecological Union in 45 km south of the city of Blagoveshchensk, the capital of the Amur Region, as the first in Russia area for sustainable land use to benefit both wildlife and people. It includes wetlands, meadows and crop fields in the Amur River Basin, with trees and shrubs representing just a little over 1% of the park area. Although there is no strict legal protection, biodiversity on these “working” lands is comparable to much larger governmental nature reserves with landscape that is more diverse and where economic activities are excluded.
The park is one of the most important breeding areas of the White-naped (Grus vipio) and Red-crowned (Grus japonensis) Cranes, Oriental Stork (Ciconia boyciana), Yellow-breasted Bunting (Emberiza aureola), Swinhoe's Rail (Coturnicops exquisitus) and a number of other endangered or threatened species. During migration seasons thousands of Hooded (Grus monacha), hundreds of White-naped Cranes and Oriental Storks, and dozens of Red-crowned and Siberian Cranes stop here for several weeks. A number of plant species are found only in this place in the Amur Region. All this attracts here researchers and nature lovers from all over the world.
Muraviovka Park is an NGO with a very small staff, which cannot function to its full capacity without involvement of volunteers. In 1998, those who wished to help the park established Friends of Muraviovka Park (FOMP) – the first international group in support of a wildlife area in Russia. Thanks to FOMP we were able to build and equip a duplex with an office, a library, an apartment for staff, and guestrooms for visitors; sauna and showers; a 2-story nature center; campgrounds for children – participants of our summer ecological schools (annual since 1994); facilities for captive breeding of endangered cranes and geese We also develop 1000 hectares of fields to grow organic soybeans and small grain crops; conduct long-term Giltchin River Watershed research program; run reforestation and fire prevention & suppression programs; launch a program to support wild population of the endangered Red-crowned Crane; initiated ecological camps in Primorski and Khabarovski Regions, and China; organize training of Russian teachers and students in other regions of Russia and abroad; develop nature tourism, and many other programs and projects.
People all ages and many nationalities participate in the park’s activities. Some come to help for a day or two, some – for a month or longer, other help the park remotely, by providing advice on administrative and legal issues, finding good but inexpensive equipment, shipping birds for our captive breeding program, designing souvenirs for our gift shop and layout for our publications, posting information about the park on their websites and social media, etc. Some volunteer’s proposals initiated our new activities or projects. For example, two students from Wisconsin had proposed to start language and ecology camp sessions, which allow participants to improve significantly their English language skills while evoking interest and care about wildlife in those who hardly paid any interest to it before the camp.
In 2018, volunteers from the Amur Region, Khabarovsk, Moscow, and the states of Wisconsin, Georgia, and Alaska helped us prepare the park’s Headquarters and Campgrounds for the summer season, raise two chicks of Red-crowned Cranes in our pens, renovate the duplex and nature Center, produce new souvenirs with the park’s theme, conduct two traditional crane festivals in June and September, attended by over 600 people, and implement many other important projects.
In April-October, volunteers are accommodated in the Headquarter duplex guest rooms, in May-September – in summer cabins at the campgrounds. There are no poisonous snakes or any other dangerous animals in the park area.
The park provides volunteers with a gas stove, dishes and a refrigerator, as well as supplies, tools, and equipment for work projects. There is a good drinking water well and you can use its water without boiling. In other areas, water may be of poor quality so you should not drink it without boiling, or use sealed bottled water!
Indoor hot and cold water shower stalls are attached to the sauna cabin, and toilets are outhouses. All facilities, except the toilets, have electricity but it would be useful to bring your own flashlight with spare batteries. Wireless internet access is available via flash modem, which volunteers can purchase in the city.
Volunteers cook for themselves together, taking turns, and buy their groceries in Blagoveshchensk, or they can give a shopping list and money to a staff person who is going to the city. Their workday does not exceed 6 hours and they are entitled to days off, as long as it does not interfere with an important event or field work. Some activities, such as giving tours to visitors, do not happen every day or last up to 3 hours a day, so volunteer tour guides assist with other projects when there are no visitors.
Sergei M. Smirenski