Training in Arctic Russia

Practicing wildlife handling skills in Russia

Sea Alarm was invited by the Russian branch of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to assist with a unique project that aims to protect the Arctic environment against the effects of oil pollution.

UNDP-Russia had agreed with the Governmental agencies and an oil company (Lukoil) to carry out a pilot activity, raising awareness within the Russian oil industry on the vulnerability of Arctic natural resources to the effects of oil pollution. Lukoil volunteered in this pilot project to work with UNDP-Russia to improve its oil spill response preparedness via a gap-analysis of its existing response plans and a dedicated training course on oiled wildlife response and preparedness.

Sea Alarm evaluated the existing response plans of an Arctic-based coastal facility and provided a report with recommendations on the basis of this analysis. The second phase of the project was to facilitate a five-day training event in Naryan-Mar, a city in the middle of the Arctic tundra, for directors and managers of Lukoil.

The first part of this event included the Sea Alarm Awareness and Planning course which delivered background and good practices regarding integrated oiled wildlife response and preparedness. Sea Alarm’s course material was translated for the occasion, and the lectures presented by Saskia Sessions-Puplett and Hugo Nijkamp were simultaneously translated. The group appreciated and enjoyed the two table-top exercises of this course.

The second part of the event included the standard course for Basic Responders, provided in two days by Claude Velter (Wildlife Rescue Centre Ostend, Belgium) and Sascha Regmann (ProBird, Germany). A theoretical day with simultaneously translated lectures was followed by a full day of skill training and field exercises outdoors at the border of a small lake, half an hour’s drive from Naryan-Mar. The field training included the stabilization of birds, the capture techniques (using Robo-duck, a motorised decoy outfitted with a Go-Pro camera) and search and collection activities.

The whole course was attended, not only by oil company directors and managers, but also by representatives of leading Russian NGOs and local, regional and national authorities. UNEP-Russia was extremely happy with the in-depth and constructive discussions between all these stakeholders during the event and the awareness the event brought to the oil industry. A news item on the event was published by UNDP-Russia (accessed here).