The two main institutions which collect environmental data relying on their own observation networks are the Sanitary Committee and the Agency for Hydrometeorology. The Committee for Statistics is responsible for the compilation of self-reporting information from enterprises and territories, thus complementing the monitoring data on environmental quality. The Ministry of Environmental Protection is entitled to co-ordinate environmental monitoring activities of these and other sectoral agencies, each of which is responsible for a specific sector, natural resource or problem (Tab. 2).
The Ministry of Environmental Protection operates a system of 89 territorial agencies, over 240 analytical centres (special inspectorates), 21 marine inspectorates, and over 20 research institutes. The ministry checks the compliance of wastewater (over 17,000 pollution sources, 17-60 parameters), gas effluents (1 million pollution sources, 20 parameters) and solid waste composition and allocation practices with issued permits and/or established standards. It also monitors the state of wildlife and vegetation in federal nature reserves and records the state of rare and endangered species. The ministry is also responsible for the registration of all kinds of protected areas in Russia. The ministry collects statistical reporting data on emissions into the atmosphere, wastewater discharges, and toxic wastes. Some local offices, depending on their capacities, undertake more comprehensive monitoring programmes, e.g. testing the water quality of selected aquatic systems.
Together with the Committee for Land Resources the ministry is responsible for land quality monitoring (8 million ha of soil pollution sources are monitored by the ministry for 28 parameters through 160 laboratories). In co-operation with the Ministry of Civil Defence it also operates an emergency response and prevention information system. Along with the Ministry of Nuclear Energy and many other involved agencies, the ministry is developing an integrated system of radiation monitoring around nuclear power plants (Gavrilov and Zubkov 1994), and is also developing a national register of radioactive materials.
To standardise monitoring procedures utilised by various agencies, to ensure the compatibility of results, and to avoid parallel projects, the ministry was recently made responsible for the establishment of the Unified State System of Environmental Monitoring and of the system of Integrated Territorial Cadastres of Natural Resources (see Section 3.2).
The Agency for Hydrometeorology is responsible for the monitoring of air, water, and soil quality, as well as for impact and background monitoring. Regular hydrological and meteorological monitoring has been carried out at selected stations in Russia since the 19th century. Regular hydrochemical monitoring at selected hydrological stations of the then existing Hydrometeorological Service started in 1936, and the programme was further expanded in the 1940-60s. Since the 1960s regular and comprehensive water and air quality monitoring has been implemented. Soil quality monitoring has been carried out since 1974. In 1978 the body was renamed the State Committee of the USSR for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, which later gave rise to the agency currently operating in Russia. Monitoring programmes are managed through a system of 25 territorial offices and 21 environmental monitoring centres, including 7 centres with federal status. The agency operates a comprehensive monitoring network, which in 1994 included:
In addition, a decision has been taken to expand the already existing network of solar radiation measurements into a national solar radiation monitoring system, with particular reference to ultra-violet radiation (Kalenikin 1994). The latter will include 6 on-the-ground stations and will make use of Russian and international meteorological satellite data (SB RF 1995). Other prospective networks may be devoted to the monitoring of dioxins and greenhouse gases. The federal programme The Development of a System of Hydrometeorological Support of the National Economy in the Russian Federation is aimed at maintaining the capacities of the agency. The agency is also responsible for licensing the environmental pollution monitoring activities in Russia.
Since 1957 the agency has been responsible for maintaining the State Data Bank of Hydrometeorological Information (later renamed the State Data Bank on the State of the Environment), which officially forms part of the State Archive Fund. The responsible institution is the Research Institute of Hydrometeorology - World Data Centre. The agency provides access to certain kinds of satellite imagery through its NPO Planeta.
The Sanitary Committee was among the first agencies in Russia to begin the collection of environmental contamination data. The initial concern was the impact of environmental quality on public health. Currently the committee operates a system of over 2,500 territorial and transportation centres and 2,600 sanitary offices which collect data on (GosComSanEpidNadzor 1992):
To assess the environmental impact on public health, health statistics are collected from health care institutions. An introduction of the committee's own small-sample population health surveys is presently being considered. The sanitary monitoring activities are outlined in the governmental decree of 06.11.94 No. 1146 On Socio-Hygienic Monitoring, by which the committee is also entitled to maintain the corresponding data bank.
The Committee for Geology, with its 3 regional (sub-national) and 53 territorial centres, over 200 prospecting and research enterprises and 60 specialised enterprises of hydro-geological and engineering-geological monitoring, operates a network of 18,000 wells and polygons for monitoring ground water quality and 15,000 sites for monitoring natural geological hazards. The committee is the successor of the Ministry of Geology, which controlled all geological surveying and mapping activities in the USSR, and is responsible for these activities throughout Russia. It carries out extensive geological and geo-ecological mapping programmes with the use of both field and remotely-sensed data (Kochetkov 1994).
A comprehensive information system on mineral resources and the geological environment is now under development. The system will be based on the network of 18 already existing information centres, including 11 regional centres (e.g. in St. Petersburg, Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Khabarovsk, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk) and 7 specialised centres. The co-ordination is performed through the Main Computation Centre. The work is carried out under the auspices of the Inter-Agency Council for the Creation of the Unified Geological Information System which is chaired by the deputy chairman of the committee.
The Committee for Land Resources comprises a dense network of territorial committees of land resources which survey and regulate land use on the sub-national level. Land resources and land quality surveys in Russia have been carried out at least since the 15th-16th centuries. The first national land survey was conducted in 1680-86. The next national survey of the 18th century was accompanied by the investigation of land quality and land use as well as by the collection of data on soil quality, forests, vegetation and wildlife (Karimov 1994). Systematic surveying and mapping of soils was initiated in 1838 by the Ministry of State Property, and was also incorporated into the activities of the Land Cadastre Commissions started in 1842 (Sadovnikov 1952). The USSR cadastre of land resources was maintained at local and federal levels and was accompanied by a programme of systematic soil and land-use mapping.
The committee collects statistical data on land ownership, distribution and management, and is presently responsible for updating the land cadastre to be used in the context of the new economic conditions. The digital technology support of the land cadastre is provided by the committee through its Research Centre Zemlya. A number of local offices of the committee are already equipped with the necessary hardware.
As mentioned above, along with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the committee is also responsible for the federal-level, sub-national and local monitoring of land quality, including:
According to the State Programme of Land Monitoring in the Russian Federation in 1993-95, 100 monitoring polygons and 1,200 monitoring stations are to be established in 1993-95. The areas to be covered by the land quality surveys in 1993-95 are:
The Committee for Water Resources, with its 18 catchment-basin management directorates, 85 territorial offices, and 18 offices for water reservoir management, collects and verifies self-reporting data on water consumption, wastewater allocation and hydro-engineering systems. Reporting currently covers over 50,000 sites of water withdrawal, 11,000 sites of wastewater discharge, 1,800 reservoirsand 30 canals. The committee also carries out its own programme of surface water quality monitoring.
The Agency for Forestry, with its territorial agencies, 1,600 forest management enterprises, and 8,000 forestries, monitors the stock, use and quality of forest stands. Forest surveys have been carried out in Russia for centuries, and the use of aerial data dates back to the 1920s. Since the 1980s special attention has been paid to the elaboration of methods of digital registration and mapping, as well as to more advanced use of satellite remote sensing. About 20 institutes throughout the country are now concerned with forest inventory methodology, the leading one being the Research and Information Centre for Forest Resources. Experiments on digital registration and forest mapping are currently under way on the local level. A prospective initiative is the introduction of an agency-wide geoinformation system.
The Committee for Fisheries with its 27 catchment-basin offices and more then 450 local inspectorates, is responsible for monitoring the state of freshwater and marine fish populations as well as of other aquatic biological resources. The Inter-Agency Ichtyological Commission was established to provide inter-sectoral co-ordination.
The Department for Hunting and Wildlife Management of the Ministry of Agriculture performs species-by-species and integrated field surveys of the state of game wildlife and habitats, and collects statistical data on wildlife exploitation. The Department of Fish Breeding controls the operations of fish-breeding ponds. The ministry also collects data on nutrients, heavy metals and pesticides (300 sites in 1990) (Serov 1993), and on radionuclides (350 sites), in agricultural soils and products. The latter activities are carried out on the basis of the system of AgroChemRadiology centres, renamed from the system of Stations for Agrochemistry established in 1979 in the form of a unified agricultural survey network led by the Institute of Agrochemical Support of Agriculture. In 15 territories which suffer from area-wide radioactive pollution extensive surveys of radionuclides in agricultural soils and products are conducted on a regular basis. The Research Institute of Lands and Ecosystems Monitoring employs remote sensing methods in the interest of agricultural assessment of land.
Local municipal enterprises which previously belonged to the system of the Department of Municipal Engineering of the Ministry of Civil Construction collect data on water quality in public water supplies, and also hold information on the planting of trees in urban areas. The system is decentralised now, but the offices on the territorial level do assemble this information. Local committees of the ministry also maintain data files on land use and planning in urban areas.
The Agency for Geodesy and Cartography is the central body responsible for cartographic activities in Russia (including digital mapping), and is also one of the leading bodies in remote sensing. The first national topographic surveys of Russia were undertaken in the 18th century (Salishchev 1976). Civil cartography and topography in the USSR was administered by the Directorate-General for Geodesy and Cartography, which, among its other responsibilities, supervised the publishing of virtually all thematic maps which are now in use. The Agency for Geodesy and Cartography has inherited all of its research centres and 3 of the 9 map publishing enterprises.
The agency is active both in its traditional field (topographic surveys and map publishing) and in such fields as remote sensing and GIS. It is responsible for cartographic and geodesic support of state authorities, and is charged with the licensing of all geodesic, cartographic, and digital mapping activities throughout the country. Remote sensing is co-ordinated by the State Centre Priroda. Since 1992 the agency has been officially entitled to create a series of digital maps and geoinformation systems for the Russian Federation. Under the Federal Programme of Digital Mapping 8 territorial centres have been establishedto co-ordinate and perform the work, including those in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, and Khabarovsk. The technology leader in digital cartography is the RosGeoInform centre, while research and methodological support is provided by the GosGISCentre. Research in digital cartography and GIS is also conducted, among others, at the State Centre Priroda and the PKO Kartografiya. The Inter-Agency Commission on Geoinformation Systems, chaired by the director of the agency, was established in 1993 to co-ordinate the corresponding activities of various state agencies. The agency is currently involved, along with other federal bodies, in the development of a geoinformation system for state authorities.
The Committee for Statistics collects data through the state statistical reporting system. The committee partly duplicates the work of the sectoral information systems in collecting copies of the same self-reporting forms (i.e. data from the same sources are also collected and accumulated by relevant sectoral agencies). The self-reporting information comes from all kinds of enterprises to the territorial statistical offices, and then, in integrated form, to the Main Computation Centre of the committee in Moscow.
The environmental reporting information includes data on (GVC GosComStat 1993, 1994):
Environment-related information is also collected by, and stored in the information systems of the Ministry of Civil Defence, the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Culture, the Agency for Governmental Communications, the Supervisory Board for Radiation Safety, and the Supervisory Board for Mining and Industry.
Industrial sectoral agencies and municipalities also carry out environmental performance monitoring of their enterprises, which is supposed to be soon partly co-ordinated through the Unified State System of Environmental Monitoring.
Another source of high-quality environmental data (primarily of sub-national scale) is the research projects conducted by sectoral research institutes, by institutes attached to the Russian Academy of Science and other traditional academies (e.g. the Russian Academy of Medical Science and the Russian Academy of Agriculture), and by universities and other institutions of higher education.
The research work of various institutions is partly co-ordinated through environmental programmes governed by federal agencies. The Ministry of Environmental Protection operates the federal programme Ecological Safety of Russia (MinPrirody 1992), which among other problems covers:
The Ministry of Science financed 16 environmental programmes in 1993, including (MinPrirody 1994b, Hefter 1994):
Some examples of other sectoral and inter-sectoral federal data-related environmental programmes are (MinPrirody 1994b, Hefter 1994, SB RF 1995):
The Committee for Informatisation considers health-related and environmental information systems among its priorities within the context of the prospective federal programme Informatisation of Russia (Kurnosov 1994).
There are environmental information activities which are related to international programmes developed under international or binational initiatives. Examples include programmes of the World Bank, WWF, UNEP, WHO, UNESCO, OECD, IUCN, IASC, UNDP, ICSU.
Environmental projects are also carried out by private consulting companies, but because of the relatively low profitability of these services the number of such companies is not large. Environmental NGOs may be another source of valuable (though often only local-scale) environmental data.
On the local level, the collection of environmental data may also be associated with the preparation of territorial/urban development programmes or environmental impact assessments. Environmental protection or impact assessment chapters in corresponding reports may contain data on air quality and emissions, water quality and wastewater discharges, the state of soils, vegetation and wildlife, sanitary conditions, protected areas, natural and cultural monuments, and environmental regionalisation. Territorial environmental projects may also be initiated by local authorities and be aimed at solving specific local problems or at performing integrated environmental assessments.
Two groups of problems arise in association with data generation activities:
The only general statement regarding environmental information products that can be made safely is that all collected data are stored on paper for a certain time within the institutions which directly performed or ordered a corresponding survey. Data can be stored in the form of draft or outgoing maps, collections of tables, or project reports. The number of document copies produced may be as low as 1 to 10.
Recently it has become more common to store the same kind of data in digital form (e.g. by digitising maps, making simple electronic databases, or preparing project reports using word processors). Yet in many cases these products are intended only for internal use rather then for sale and/or distribution. Usually the copies of such paper or digital products can be obtained only either from a data-set developer or from the person and/or institution that ordered the data-set (the latter can also represent a higher institutional or management level).
Generally speaking, the only way to guarantee the proper delivery of an information product is to contact the data holder directly. Higher administrative or territorial levels may in practice not be receiving all information from below, or may be receiving it in a substantially generalised form. At the same time the information flows do exist, resulting in the concentration of certain data at specially designated federal and/or regional nodes. On a sub-national level the most substantial amounts of environmental data are held by the territorial offices of the agencies enumerated in Section 3.1. Systematic transfer of information to central locations is arranged within the currently existing monitoring system operated by the Agency for Hydrometeorology, within the system of statistical reporting (Committee for Statistics), and within the system of sectoral cadastres of natural resources (see below).
Territorial integration of environmental data is performed in the course of the compilation of environmental maps and atlases of territories. Maps of the state of the environment have recently been compiled, among many others, for St. Petersburg city, the Moscow, Leningrad, Archangel, Voronezh, Ryazan, and Lipetsk oblasts, the Krasnoyarsk kray, and the Khakass and Buryat republics. Environmental atlases are being prepared for the Irkutsk and Murmansk oblasts. Digital environmental maps and atlases are in preparation e.g. for the Lake Baikal area, the Archangel, Irkutsk, Moscow, Murmansk, and Ryazan oblasts, the Altai kray, and Moscow, St. Petersburg, Obninsk, and Kostroma cities. The Agency for Geodesy and Cartography has signed agreements with approximately half of the Russian territories to develop various kinds of digital information products, including GISs, thematic spatial databases or corresponding software. Environmental information is also present in general-purpose geographic maps and atlases of the territories, of which a large number have been compiled.
Some local environmental authorities and/or statistical offices publish territorial reports on the state of the environment and territorial compendia of environmental statistics.
Data contained in background materials for emission permits as well as for other kinds of environmental permits are stored at local environmental agencies and at corresponding enterprises, and can also provide insights into pollution loading. Environmental passports for enterprises have been compiled since 1980 and contain information on the consumption of natural resources, production and allocation of emissions and wastes at a single enterprise.
Information regarding the compliance of various activities with environmental regulations is found at local and central offices of bodies performing supervisory functions, e.g. the Prosecutor Offices, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Sanitary Committee, the Committee for Fisheries, the Committee for Land Resources, the Agency for Forestry, the Supervisory Board for Mining and Industry, the Supervisory Board for Radiation Safety, and the Committee for Statistics, as well as at other sectoral agencies and at the enterprises themselves.
Raw statistical reporting data are usually available only from territorial statistical offices. The aggregated data are regularly distributed among the authorities and selected users by the Main Computation Centre of the Committee for Statistics. The data are originally delivered in digital form but are not stored longer than the time needed for the preparation of a publication due to the lack of space and resources. The centre is now planning to produce a series of territorial statistical compendia which will include, along with other data, information about the protection of the environment (GVC GosComStat 1993). The federal-level environmental data yearbooks are regularly published and distributed by the Division of the Computation Centre (former RosInformCentre) of the committee (see also Appendix 3). Besides, this division holds a set of nationally-aggregated digital statistical data-sets, including those on environmental protection and management (RosInformCentre 1994).
A system of cadastres (registers) of natural resources has been established in the USSR with the purpose of systematic collection and registration of information about the stock, status, and use of:
Some information included in sectoral cadastres is stored in the form of digital databases. Other data are not yet available in digital form, but their transfer is under consideration.
Data on deposits of mineral resources have been collected and published under State and Territorial Balances of Mineral Resources for over 30 years (Buyanov et al. 1994). Since 1981 work has been carried out to rearrange this information in an expanded form into the State Cadastre of Mineral Resources. Co-ordination of activities is provided by the Federal Data-Bank holder RosGeolFund and by territorial data banks. Examples of nation-wide digital data-sets produced on the basis of cadastre information are the database Mineral Deposits as Natural System, which contains data on mineral resources, their quality, and geological conditions of extraction (RosGeolFund), the databases Mineral Deposits, Nickel/Copper Deposits, and Local Oil/Natural Gas Containing Systems (Institute of Mineral Resources Economics), the database Deposits of Construction Materials in Russia and the Economic Cadastre of Deposits of Non-Ferrous Metals (Main Computation Centre of the Committee for Geology), the database Deposits of Construction and Non-Ore Materials in Russia (Central Geophysical Expedition), the database Coal Deposits in the CIS (VNIGRIUgol), and the spatially-registered database of mineral deposits (VNIIZarubezhGeologiya).
Geological monitoring data on hazardous exogenous processes and on the state of permafrost are partly stored in digital form at the Geo-Ecological Centre of the Institute of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology. Large quantities of geological and geo-ecological data are also stored in either analogue or digital form at geological research institutions and at local offices of the Committee for Geology.
Data on meteorology, air quality and emissions, and on the composition of atmospheric precipitation are published regularly by the Agency for Hydrometeorology. Existing federal-level digital databases cover atmospheric emissions and air quality (Central Geophysical Observatory), snow pollution (Institute of Global Climate and Ecology), meteorology and solar radiation (Hydrometeorological Institute - World Data Centre and Central Geophysical Observatory), agro-meteorology (Institute of Agrometeorology). Air quality data collected under programmes of international co-operation (e.g. BAPMON, EMEP) are passed on to corresponding international centres and are published thereby.
The aquatic digital databases of the State Water Cadastre contain data on river hydrology, marine hydrology and pollution (all at the Hydrometeorological Institute - World Data Centre), surface water quality (Hydrochemical Institute), run-off distribution and the hydrology of lakes and impoundments (State Hydrological Institute), water consumption and wastewater allocation (VodNIIInformProyekt and local offices of the Committee for Water Resources). Digital data on ground-water, including a database of potential exploitation resources of ground-water integrated by the territories of Russia, and the database of monthly-averaged ground-water levels at selected wells, are stored at the Geo-Ecological Centre of the Institute of Hydrogeology and Engineering Geology; digital databases on ground-water regime and quality are also under development at the territorial offices of the Committee for Geology. A catalogue of the glaciers of the USSR has been turned into a spatial database at the Institute of Geography. A substantial amount of state monitoring data on marine water quality is stored at the State Oceanographic Institute. Data on water quality in public water supplies are also held, mainly in analogue form, by municipal enterprises and by the territorial offices of the Department of Municipal Engineering of the Ministry of Civil Construction.
Hydrological and water quality monitoring data collected by the Agency for Hydrometeorology are published annually. Ground-water data are published by the local offices of the Committee for Geology. Water use data are summarised and partly published by the Committee for Water Resources.
Analogue data products on land resources are held by various-level offices of the Committee for Land Resources and include information on land quality, classification, use and ownership. However, few data are present at these offices with regard to measured soil quality, as well as for non-cultivated lands. The accuracy of boundaries is also sometimes questionable. Therefore extensive surveys are planned for the updating and expanding of these data-sets, along with transition to storage of data in digital form. According to the State Programme of Land Monitoring, the Database on Land Quality and the spatially-distributed Land Monitoring Information System are to be developed in 1993-95 at the Committee for Land Resources, to be used by the State Land Cadastre and by the Federal System of Land Monitoring.
Data on soil pollution which are currently collected by the Agency for Hydrometeorology and by the Ministry of Agriculture are published regularly. The offices of the Ministry of Civil Construction hold data on urban land use.
Digital databases and analogue data-sets on forests containing information on forest resources at different levels of aggregation are held at central institutions (Research and Information Forest Institute, Institute of Forest Industry, Research and Information Centre for Forest Resources) and at some local forestry enterprises. A database on forest fires is held at the Research Institute for Forestry.
Data on the state and habitats of vegetation and/or wildlife are stored (only partly in digital form) at the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Agency for Hydrometeorology, the Committee for Fisheries, the Inter-Agency Ichtyological Commission, the Departments for Hunting and Fish-Breeding of the Ministry of Agriculture, the territorial and local offices of the Ministry of Civil Construction and municipal engineering enterprises. The Agency for Hydrometeorology monitoring data on the state of freshwater plankton and benthos communities are published annually. Data on rare and endangered species are published in national and territorial Red Data Books. Examples of known or declared digital data-sets are the Database of Fish and Other Marketable Aquatic Life (Committee for Fisheries), the ZooMonitor database on populations of birds, mammals, amphibia and reptilia (Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science), the databases Impact Monitoring (under development) and Background Monitoring (Institute of Global Climate and Ecology), databases on the state of biota of protected areas (State Institute of Applied Ecology), rare animals and medicinal plants (NPP Logus), common and rare animals distribution, communities and habitats (Institute of Environmental Conservation, Institute of Geography, Moscow State University).
Since 1982 the Ministry of Public Health of the USSR has been operating the Unified State Information System ZDOROVIE devoted to environmental aspects of public health, which contains data on air pollution, drinking water quality, population mortality, and health statistics for cities of the USSR, including more than 80 cities in Russia (Abrosimova et al. 1994). This database is now operated independently by the Russian Republican Information-Analytical Centre of the Sanitary Committee and by the MedSocEconInform Centre of the Ministry of Public Health. The latter is also developing an urban health-environment information system that will serve as an information framework for the WHO Healthy Cities programme in Russia. The Information-Analytical Centre of the Sanitary Committee is establishing an information system to support the Federal Programme of Socio-Hygienic Monitoring. Besides, the Federal Programme of the Development of a Sanitary-Epidemiological System in Russia in 1993-95 has envisaged the elaboration of local, territorial and federal information systems and databases on public health and the environment (Melyukhin 1993).
An important set of information products is the series of national reports on the state of the environment, which since 1992 have been prepared annually by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. Other nation-wide federal-level reports, both general and problem-specific, have also been produced in the past few years (see Appendix 3).
Other initiatives related to the development of environmental data-sets of national or subnational coverage are projects aimed at small-scale environmental mapping and/or at the development of wide-coverage environmental databases. Some examples of initiatives resulting in general-purpose environmental information products are nation-wide general or environmental mapping or database projects (the Institute of Geography, Moscow State University, the Committee for Geology, the Agency for Geodesy and Cartography), the Atlas of Public Health and Environment ( the Public Health and Environment Foundation and the Centre for Post-Soviet Studies), the Arctic Environmental Database and the Environmental Atlas of Russia (Moscow State University), the Environmental Data Report Database ( the Institute of Global Climate and Ecology), the Volga River Catchment Basin database (the Institute of Environmental Problems of the Volga Basin).
There are also many examples of more problem-specific projects which result in the production of analogue or digital environmental data-sets of national or sub-national coverage on related subjects.
An important source of raw data directly related to the state of the environment is the remotely-sensed data from USSR/Russian satellites. Raw or processed aircraft and satellite imagery in either analogue or digital form is available from the Agency for Geodesy and Cartography through the State Centre Priroda and through some of its local enterprises. Of special value for environmental purposes is the multiband photographic imagery of high spatial resolution, like that derived by the RESURS-F1/F2 satellites. The Agency for Hydrometeorology supplies images from meteorological satellites, as well as from the OCEAN and the general-purpose RESURS-O platforms. These images are primarily held at NPO Planeta and at the Research Institute of Hydrometeorology - World Data Centre, as well as at a few other centres and institutes. In addition, the inter-departmental SovInformSputnik agency has been established for the release of the disclosed (mainly panchromatic, but very high resolution) imagery from military satellites.
Two important initiatives, which are being built upon the currently existing environmental information systems, and which are likely to significantly alter the current patterns of data flow and practices of information management, are the Unified State System of Environmental Monitoring and the Integrated Territorial Cadastres of Natural Resources. Both concepts are supported by a number of currently operational acts as well as present in the draft law On Protection of the Environment in the Russian Federation.
The concept of the Unified State System of Environmental Monitoring was approved by the governmental edict of 24.11.93 No. 1229 On the Establishment of a Unified State System of Environmental Monitoring. The purpose of the system is to provide information support for the integral assessment of the state of the environment in the Russian Federation as a whole as well as on the sub-national level.
The essence of the concept is to create data flows between various agencies undertaking environmental monitoring in Russia, so that all relevant sectoral information will be concentrated and further processed in an integrated form at the federal and territorial centres of the Ministry of Environment Protection and other agencies. The actual structure of existing sectoral monitoring networks is to be distorted as little as possible. The data to be covered by the system would ideally comprise virtually all existing information on environmental contamination, pollution sources, ecosystem response and public health. The Federal Centre for Geo-Ecological Systems and the State Institute of Applied Ecology bear the federal-level responsibility for the concept implementation. Apart from federal centres of general competence, the establishment/ assignment of federal-level centres for processing more specialised information is also under consideration. Similar centres of information analysis are to be created on the territorial level by the local offices of the ministry. An Information-Analytical System is to be established at the ministry to serve as an integrated all-ministry database. The federal information-analytic centre thereunder has already been opened in Moscow.
On the territorial level one of the first steps taken in 1994 was the enactment of local regulations on monitoring activities (the Krasnodar, Primorskiy, and Stavropol krays, the Bashkortostan, Chuvash, Mariy-El, Mordovian, and Tatarstan republics, the Amur, Astrakhan, Kirov, Perm, Sverdlovsk, Tumen, and Vologda oblasts, and the Khanty-Mansi autonomous okrug). Some of these and other territories also came up with conceptual frameworks suited to local needs and conditions and/or with the creation of fragments of monitoring or analytical subsystems (the Bashkortostan, Karelian, Udmurt, and Yakut republics, the Krasnodar and Krasnoyarsk krays, the Amur, Archangel, Astrakhan, Irkutsk, Kalinigrad, Kaluga, Kirov, Leningrad, Lipetsk, Murmansk, Nizhny Novgorod, Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Orenburg, Perm, Pskov, Ryazan, Samara, Saratov, Sverdlovsk, Vologda, and Yaroslavl oblasts, and Chelyabinsk city). Several territories were selected to serve as model areas for the creation of territorial-level monitoring systems (the Astrakhan, Chita, Kaluga and Kurgan oblasts, the Bashkortostan, Karelian, Chuvash, Mordovian and Udmurt republics, the Khanty-Mansi and Yamal-Nenets autonomous okrugs, and the Mineralnye Vody area in the North Caucasus). So far it has been admitted that the most serious problems are of organisational nature and associated with establishing links with and between various data holders. Another bottleneck is that funding for the programme on the territorial level comes from local budgets and thus is dependent upon local authorities. At the initial stage of system implementation, its main products will be metainformation and a limited number of analytical overviews on the basis of existing data (Gavrilov 1995, Novoselova 1995, MinPrirody 1994b, 1994c, 1995b).
As a further development of the environmental monitoring system, its incorporation into a more comprehensive national security monitoring system is under consideration. The latter may be formed under the auspices of the Presidential Security Council to support national-level decision-making in terms of various aspects of national security, including environmental safety (Gerasimenko et al. 1994).
The concept of Integrated Territorial Cadastres of Natural Resources (Shevchuk et al. 1994, Itkin et al. 1995) has originated primarily from the need of local governments to incorporate environmental components into everyday decision-making. The integration of environmental data on the inter-sectoral level is necessary for providing an overall assessment of the local environment as part of a territorial socio-economic system. The cadastres of natural resources are considered to form part of the system of state cadastres which may be established under the leadership of the Committee for Informatisation (Lisitsyn and Monastyrskaya 1994, Manoshkin 1995) or other relevant agency. Of special importance is the calculation of payments to local budgets for the use of natural resources of the territory, which requires consistent, up-to-date, accurate, and officially certified information on natural resource availability, status and use.
The territorial cadastres are intended to create links between sectoral environmental and natural resource cadastres, existing urban/settlement cadastres which contain data on housing and engineering infrastructure, and socio-economic statistical data. The environmental monitoring data received through the Unified State System of Environmental Monitoring should contribute to the state-of-the-environment sections of integrated cadastres.
A pilot experiment on creating territorial cadastres is currently carried out under the supervision of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and in co-operation with other agencies and local authorities in 30 territories of Russia, including the Adygei, Karelian, Khakass, and Komi republics, the Krasnoyarsk, Primorskiy, and Stavropol krays, and the Amur, Belgorod, Ivanovo, Irkutsk, Kamchatka, Kaliningrad, Kaluga, Kemerovo, Kostroma, Kurgan, Leningrad, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Omsk, Orenburg, Perm, Sverdlovsk, Tver, Tula, Ulyanovsk, Vologda, and Yaroslavl oblasts. Actually active at the current stage are 20% of these territories (including the Irkutsk, Leningrad and Yaroslavl oblasts).
A regional approach will be implemented for ensuring the consistency of data and methodologies, with the co-ordination of the activities of several territories through regional centres rather then through a federal one. A regional pilot project involving the territories around Leningrad oblast is under way.
The guidelines on territorial cadastres are developed by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and by its specialised centres. The sub-programme Cadastres of Natural Resources is included into the federal programme Ecological Safety of Russia for 1995.
The list of sources of cadastre information may include state and sectoral internal statistical reporting products, routine survey and monitoring data, and data related to impact assessments, inspections, or other special purpose activities. Besides already existing cadastre data on mineral resources, land and soil resources, surface and ground waters, forests, game wildlife, and fish resources, the integrated cadastres are intended to cover such themes as climatic resources and natural risks, non-arboreous forest resources, endangered species and protected ecosystems, protected areas, areas of special recreational or cultural importance, recovered materials, and the generation and disposal of wastes. The parameters to be attributed to resource description include the stock and properties of the resource, its legal status, its quality in terms of environmental impacts and state, and its relative or absolute economic value. Cadastre information is supposed to be stored both in digital and in analogue form. This refers to both spatial and tabular parts of a cadastre.
The already available preliminary results of the experiment show that the insufficient activity of most of the territories can be explained by a number of objective as well as subjective factors (Itkin et al. 1995). These include the inability of the territories to allocate necessary funding, the absence of environmental management experience which would be relevant to the new economic conditions, and, finally, the reluctance of some officials to set up the proper inventory mechanisms for the use of the natural resources which are under their control.
It should be noted that both the monitoring and the cadastre programmes are often to be based on essentially the same data-sets operated by the same agencies. However, in an organisational sense the monitoring system is somewhat more top-to-down oriented, while territorial cadastres pay almost exclusive attention to the local/territorial level. Since it is required that unified protocols for collection, exchange and use of monitoring data should be established, the sectoral agencies must thus be able to deliver data to both programmes, the difference being the level of integration and the form of delivery depending upon the prospective use.
Like data-generation activities (see Section 3.1), the most important problems associated with the development of environmental information systems and products in Russia are the lack of co-ordination, product incompatibility, and the abundance of parallel projects. These are accompanied by an overall decline in activity. A special problem is the lack of metainformation: although certain metainformation sources do exist (see Appendix 2), their comprehensibility and reliability is far from being satisfactory. (Unfortunately, it must be admitted that this also applies to the corresponding sections of this report.) The maintenance and regular updating of metainformation for operational use is certainly carried out by interested institutions. However, since this is a very time- and labour-intensive process, not all of the existing metainformation is, or can be, made compatible with external standards and requirements given a very limited market and a pronounced lack of fund-supported demand.
One of the main kinds of decision-making to be supported by the state system of environmental information is the supervision and enforcement of compliance with environmental regulations. The supervision is carried out by federal and local authorities, as well as by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Sanitary Committee, the Prosecutor Offices, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Committee for Fisheries, the Committee for Land Resources, the Agency for Forestry, the Supervisory Board for Mining and Industry, and the Supervisory Board for Radiation Safety. The ultimate goal is a gradual improvement of the state of the environment, while practical aims may be the termination of dangerous operations or the collection of fines to finance specialised funds (see Section 3.4).
Decisions most often made in the course of supervision are concerned with:
Environmental information is also used during the preparation of environmental impact assessments required for many projects or activities able to negatively affect the environment, including:
In the case of court trial hearings connected with environmental problems, environmental data are used as evidence (Selivanov and Skoromnikov 1994), although related experience is still controversial and limited. Related problems and data requirements are likely to be associated with the introduction of environmental insurance, which is supported by the law On the Protection of the Natural Environment and is being introduced jointly by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Russian Insurance Company.
Environmental information is widely used for justifying a special environmental status of a territory, including its classification as a "zone of environmental emergency" or a "zone of environmental disaster" (MinPrirody 1994f, Petrov 1995), or for supporting the establishment of protected areas.
The concept of integrated cadastres of natural resources (see Section 3.2) is aimed at an integrated assessment of environmental management efficiency. This is another prospective use of data. The particular problems to be solved on the territorial level based on the information from integrated cadastres include (Itkin et al. 1995):
The problem, however, is that the methodology for integrated assessment of environmental values is not yet widespread and routinely used, though it is being worked on in a number of institutions.
The draft law On Protection of the Environment in the Russian Federation suggests the introduction of a "post-project monitoring" aimed at the "verification of preliminary forecasts of environmental impact", and of a system of "independent external environmental audits" of enterprises. Both initiatives seem to be relatively data-demanding.
In relation to the appearance of a realty market in Russia, the attention to environmental conditions in evaluating the cost of property will undoubtedly grow further. The variations of environmental quality already play an important role in realty assessments, e.g. in Moscow.
Another kind of use of environmental data is associated with their transfer to international organisations, as well as with data utilisation and analysis within various research projects.
Except for research projects, the routine methodology of environmental data analysis is not very advanced as yet. Statistical and modelling approaches are not common in routine practice, with the exclusion of the Agency for Hydrometeorology. No statistical concept of environmental and health risk is in practical use. Officially certified models of pollutant transport in the atmosphere and in the aquatic environment do not reflect the present-day state of knowledge in these fields. The culture of field model calibration and verification in everyday practice is not widespread. On the other hand, quite sophisticated analytic and modelling techniques and approaches have been developed in research institutions across Russia. Their implementation is impeded not only by the absence of proper approval mechanisms for new developments, but also by the inability of decision-makers to understand the procedures and to properly use their outcomes.
According to different estimates, there are several hundred to several thousand public environmental groups in Russia, varying with respect to their attitude to problem-solving from 'eco-fundamentalists' to pure pragmatics (Yanitskiy 1994). One of the oldest groups is the Russian Society for the Conservation of Nature, which started its operation in 1924. NGO activities vary at present from local protest actions to broad-scale environmental public hearings and assessments, although public mass actions seem to steadily be losing their impetus. Many of these groups are aware of existing sources of environmental information and make use of them, although it is not uncommon for NGOs not to trust any official information. In their turn, many officials are extremely reluctant to supply any data to public groups for fear of "improper and prejudiced interpretation".
The dissemination of environmental information is probably the least developed field in the range of environmental information activities. The access to information products (e.g. those described in Section 3.2) is hampered for "medium-" to "low-level" users (including the public, NGOs, and research and consulting institutions) by the small number of publication copies, high cost of data, and, quite often, by the reluctance of data holders to share their resources. Obtaining the necessary data to a great extent depends upon the person's or institution's experience, their connections in government and research sectors, and their financial capacities.
Media remain an important mean of distributing environmental information and knowledge. The central environmental newspapers Zelenyy Mir (The Green World, 40,000 copies, more then 20 issues a year), Spaseniye (Salvation), and the magazines ECOSInform (1,000 copies), Eurasia-Monitoring (2,000 copies), Ekologicheskiy Vestnik Rossii (Ecological Bulletin of Russia), Svet: Priroda i Chelovek (Light: Man and Nature), Priroda (Nature), Bereginya (Cherish-Goddess), Svirel' (A Reed-Pipe, children magazine, 15,000 copies) publish various environmental materials, including national state-of-the-environment reports. Over 50 environmental periodicals were published regularly in 30 territories in 1993 (MinPrirody 1994b). More than 100 popular periodicals devoted to local geographical and environmental studies were published regularly in 1990-93 (Boykova 1994). Non-specialised periodicals and news agencies also pay considerable attention to environmental affairs, though the public has lost a lot of interest in the environment in recent years. A number of environmental programmes are broadcasted at central and local TV and radio stations (e.g. People's Earth, Ecological Microphone). Again, the pronounced lack of funding and the fact that environmental programmes and publications are not very attractive for commercial advertisers make the operation of such media extremely difficult. Some financial support is provided by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, ecological funds and other external sources. A number of professional periodicals devoted to the environment experience similar problems.
The NOOFACT, ECO-ACCORD and other agencies use telecommunications to distribute environmental information. International environmental electronic bulletins are available in Russia through the INTERNET. On-line access to information from the Ministry of Environmental Protection has been provided through a Bulletin Board System. The Russian Environmental Federal Information Agency operates the teletext-type TV-EcoInform information system for the distribution of environmental information to territorial environmental protection offices and other interested users (MinPrirody and TV-Inform 1994). The agency regularly sends information to over 80 local offices, some of the central environmental agencies in the CIS member states, research and educational institutions, and international organisations (e.g. the information from TV-EcoInform is received through the INTERNET by UNEP and OECD headquarters). The transferred information packages contain environmental legislation acts, reference and educational materials, conference information, and environmental status reports. Technically the system is capable of transmitting over 100 KB of uncompressed data per day, and the practical effectiveness is at present more often limited by the lack of appropriate information and by the inability of data receptors to use such amounts of data. The cost of transmission with TV-EcoInform is in many cases much lower then the cost of using alternative telecommunications, and the reliability is higher due to a generally low quality of telecommunication infrastructure outside central Russia and few other key areas. The National Information Agency which operates a teletext system using the first channel of the Russian television has been planning a transfer of geophysical data collected by the Agency for Hydrometeorology (Melyukhin et al. 1994). The establishment of the Local Space Service system for on-the-ground direct reception of data from RESURS satellites is now under consideration (Ascont 1995). The system will comprise a network of personal stations able to continuously receive compressed multiband 20-m resolution data at the rate of 3 Mbit/sec. The pilot experiment is to be conducted in 1995-98, and to be followed by a fully-operational stage upon its successful completion.
Environmental book publishing, in spite of the recent drop in the number of titles and copies, greatly contributes to the dissemination of environmental knowledge. Over 300 environmental titles came out in 1993, including 170 educational and popular texts and monographs and 130 conference proceedings, reviews, pre-prints, and reference publications. The total number of copies in 1993 was 50,000, varying from 50 to 50,000 copies per title (which is not very many given the 150 million population). The support of environmental publishing from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and from the Russian Ecological Fund is critical, though not sufficient to maintain the desired level (MinPrirody 1994b).
Environmental education forms a basis for the literate environmental information user community. General environmental programmes are being introduced at all levels of education, including pre-school (kindergarten), primary to high school, technical colleges, and institutions for higher education. The theory and methodology of environmental education are dealt with at about 140 institutions under 60 sub-programmes within the programme Ecological Safety of Russia. The Association of Environmental Education and the Inter-Agency Commission on Public Environmental Education have been created as a national-level co-ordinating mechanism, and sub-national centres of environmental education have been locally established, e.g. in the Kamchatka, Leningrad, Perm, Sverdlovsk and Tumen oblasts, and in the Altai and Stavropol krays (Sostoyaniye... 1994).
A number of secondary-/high-school institutions have introduced special environmental courses, e.g. Health and the Environment, Man and the Biosphere, Basic Ecology, Human Ecology, Nature and Culture. Environmental problems are also being taught in the context of international school projects, i.e. international projects on river watch GREEN (Zelenyy Mir 1994), and a project on domestic animals and acid rain, the KidNet. A considerable environmental component is present in basic high-school courses in Biology and Geography. A separate compulsory course Ecology has recently been introduced in school curricula. Local and national Olympiads (contests) in Biology and Geography for school students have been arranged for years, and a national Olympiad on the Environment has been held since 1994. Environmental projects and camps are held in many parts of the country, including the All-Russian Summer School on Ornithology, Geo-Botany and Aquatic Ecology held on the Black Sea since 1993. A national competition for school students Water on the Earth was held in 1994 (Sostoyaniye... 1994, MinPrirody 1994b).
Basic environmental courses are included in the curricula of the technical colleges. Specialised technician-level training is offered within programmes in Environmental Protection, Industrial Air Quality Control, Water Supply and Wastewater Disposal, Air Quality Monitoring, Water Quality Monitoring, Soil Quality Monitoring, Hydrology, Meteorology, Hydrogeology and Engineering Geology, Forestry, Land Management, Irrigation and Drainage, Wildlife Management, Aero-Geodesy, Cartography, Sanitary Medicine and Epidemiology (Novikov 1993, MinPrirody 1994b).
The universities and other institutions of higher education in Russia are the main sources of environmental professionals for all sectors of the economy. The first environmental department was formed at Kazan State University in 1969. Furthermore some 10 more departments were established throughout the USSR by 1988, including those at the universities and other institutions of higher education in Ekaterinburg, Perm, Rostov-on-Don, St. Petersburg, and Voronezh. In the 1980s Environmental Engineering departments were established at the Moscow Institute of Chemical Engineering and at other institutes with similar background. Over 250 Russian institutions offered in the early 1990s training in fields with significant environmental components, such as Biology, Zoology, Botany, Microbiology, Soil Science, Geography, Meteorology, Hydrology, Hydrography, Oceanography, Sanitary Medicine, Hydrogeology and Engineering Geology, Environmental Engineering, Architecture and Urban Construction, Landscape Architecture, Civil Construction, Air Quality Control, Water Resources, Aero-Geodesy, Cartography, Remote Sensing, Agro-Chemistry and Soil Science, Land Management, Irrigation and Drainage, Forestry and Gardening (Tatur 1991).
Nowadays, along with the state institutions of higher education, some private institutions offer extensive environmental programmes (e.g. Moscow College of Arts and Ecology, the International Independent University of Ecology and Political Science, the International University).
At present the system of higher education in Russia is undergoing a transition from the previously existing 5-year system of education leading to the Diploma of Higher Education to a more complex arrangement which incorporates training towards 3 kinds of undergraduate/graduate degrees, i.e. the Bachelor's Degree (a 4-year programme), the Master's Degree (an additional 2-year programme), or the Diploma of Higher Education (a 5-year programme, without the requirement of earning the Bachelor's Degree). Due to the changes a rearrangement of the classification of qualifications has taken place (Shadrikov 1994), accompanied by a substantial change in course contents. State educational standards containing basic course requirements are to be introduced by 1998. Before that a set of preliminary standards is being prepared.
The classification of the Bachelor's Degree qualifications has already been formed and officially approved. Along with many traditional entries (i.e. Biology, Geography, Geology, Hydrometeorology, Civil Engineering, Geodesy, Agro-Chemistry, Forestry, Fisheries, Aquatic Bioresources), new qualifications have been added such as Ecology and Environmental Management, Engineering Protection of the Environment (already offered at 2 institutes), Environmental Construction, Land Management and Land Cadastre.
Two umbrella groups of qualifications for the Diploma of Higher Education have been established. These are Ecology and Environmental Management and Life Safety. The first group comprises 7 separate qualifications related mostly to natural and social sciences (Environmental Management, Geo-Ecology, Bio-Ecology, Agro-Ecology, Irrigation and Drainage, Protection and Management of Water Resources, and Environmental Construction; in the future the qualification in Geological Ecology may be added to this group and is now considered by 12 universities). The Environmental Protection and Natural Resource Management qualification, which is also in this group, however, has a much stronger engineering component. The second group covers 4 qualifications of engineering nature (Life Safety, Engineering Protection of the Environment, Technological Safety, Emergency Response), which are already offered by at least 20 engineering institutes. Some other new related qualifications are Environmental Education (for institutions offering degrees in pedagogy), Ecology (for environmental departments of purely engineering sectoral institutions of higher education), Land Cadastre and Urban Cadastre.
Intensive training for working professionals is offered within several programmes, i.e. Ecology and Environmental Management, Ground-Water Protection, Landscape Architecture, Environmental Education.
As regards the non-professional environmental education in the institutions of higher education, Biology and Basic Ecology course for science students and a Life Safety course for engineering students (which covers the issues previously taught within Occupational Safety, Civil Defence and Environmental Protection courses) are now being taught on a compulsory basis at the institutions of higher education.
Given the variety of programmes, there is, however, a limited number of training programmes directly related to environmental information management. Mapping is taught at all institutions with Geography, Cartography, Geology, Soil Science, Forestry and similar programmes. Several institutions already teach GIS, and over 30 more are introducing corresponding programmes in the near future (Lourie 1994). The statistical foundations of data processing is taught within almost all programmes. All programmes of engineering nature have strong components related to higher mathematics and computer science (these are also taught to a lesser extent to science students). At the same time there are only a few institutions offering really advanced courses in environmental data analysis, environmental modelling or environmental decision-support. This, among other factors, accounts for the insufficient use of existing and elsewhere known techniques.
Nevertheless, in spite of the economic difficulties, the Russian educational system, with its deep traditions, numerous links to industry, government, the business and research community, and its highly-qualified personnel, has much to offer with regard to the development of environmental information systems and networks.
The framework for the generation, distribution and use of environmental information is defined by current environmental and information legislation, which is eclectic by nature and has not been comprehensively developed as yet (see Sections 2.2 and 2.3).
The new Constitution adopted in 1993 contains a number of statements directly related to environmental information problems. The most important innovation is the special regime of environmental data distribution. Besides the general rights of citizens to information expressed in article 24 (information affecting rights and freedoms) and article 29 (collection and dissemination of information; see also Section 2.3), the Constitution directly states that
The specific mechanisms of public access to environmental data are as usual supposed to be defined by supplemental laws and acts, none of which has yet been enacted.
The law On the Protection of the Natural Environment, currently in force, states that the "designated agencies receive environmental information from other agencies, institutions, organisations and enterprises on a free-of-charge basis" (7). These agencies, in their turn, are entitled to provide the public with necessary environmental information (6, 7), including the annual national state-of-the-environment report (6). Citizens and public groups have the right of access to "timely, complete and reliable information on the state of the environment and on measures for its protection" (12, 13). Conditions should be provided for free, unrestricted international exchange of information on environmental research and engineering (92).
Collection and analysis of environmental data are dealt with in the governmental edict of 24.11.93 No. 1229 On the Establishment of a Unified State System of Environmental Monitoring (see Section 3.2). The draft law On Protection of the Environment in the Russian Federation, prepared by the expert group of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, similarly to the current law entitles the specially designated agencies to carry out environmental monitoring within the framework of the Unified State System of Environmental Monitoring as well as within the system of sectoral and integral territorial cadastres (20, 21, 22). The agencies performing environmental monitoring should provide interested users with "current and urgent information on environmental change, corresponding warning and forecasts" (22 (4)). It has also been suggested that monitoring data should be provided free-of-charge to federal and territorial legislative bodies and to Russian citizens (22 (5)), while sold to other institutions and organisations (22 (6)).
Maintenance of the systems of cadastres of natural resources is required by the acting law On the Protection of the Natural Environment (8, 9, 16). The directive of the government of 05.04.92 No 695-r (3) assigns the Ministry of Environmental Protection together with the Committee for Statistics the responsibility for improving the registration of natural resources and recovered materials. By the governmental edict of 19.08.92 No. 602 On Measures for the Implementation of the Programme of In-Depth Economic Reforms (83) the Ministry of Environmental Protection together with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Fuel and Energy, and the Sanitary Committee are made responsible for the preparation of the cadastres of natural resources.
Laws devoted to the protection of specific resources (e.g. air, water, land, forests, wildlife), or to the regulation of activities with substantial environmental components (e.g. civil construction, sanitary supervision) usually also contain chapters on related information activities. The laws On the Protection of Atmospheric Air in the RSFSR (45), On Public Sanitary-Epidemiological Well-Being (5, 32), On Mineral Wealth (27-32), On the Principles of Urban Construction in the Russian Federation (6, 8), On Wildlife (15, 16), Water Code of the RSFSR (104-108), Land Code of the RSFSR (109-111), and Principles of Forest Legislation of the Russian Federation (74-78) explicitly and in more or less detail regulate the collection and use of relevant data. It is generally required that information collected and stored under state programmes (such as national monitoring systems or state cadastres) should be managed according to unified standards, and unconditionally used for official purposes. Relevant state agencies are made responsible for managing certain kinds of data by the above-mentioned acts, as well as by the corresponding Statutes, of which each one is devoted to a single agency, describes its functions, rights and responsibilities, and is approved by the government.
Environmental data access policies are, besides the Constitution, highlighted in general information legislation. The law On Information, Informatisation and the Protection of Information (see Section 2.3) states that:
"No restrictions can be imposed on the access to documents containing... data on accidents, environmental, meteorological, demographic, sanitary-epidemiological or other information which is necessary to support the safe functioning of settlements, industries, safety of citizens and the public as a whole" (11 (3)).
The law On State Secrets (7) includes data on accidents and catastrophes, the state of the environment, public health, sanitary, demography, and agriculture in the list of types of information that can not be classified as state secrets, and defines the responsibility for inappropriate classification (see Section 2.3). On the other hand, scientific and economic information, including data on "distribution and amount of state material reserves", as well as scientific data "of defence or economic importance, significant for the provision of security of the Russian Federation" (2) can be declared a state secret.
According to the governmental edict No. 35 of 05.12.91 On the List of Types of Information that can not be Classified as Commercial Secrets, access to information on environmental pollution cannot be restricted due to reasons of confidentiality.
The law On Public Sanitary-Epidemiological Well-Being (5) states that citizens have the right to complete and reliable information on:
The law On Mineral Wealth provides a comprehensive treatment of geological data ownership:
"Information on geological composition... contained in geological reports, maps and other materials, is the property of the client who has financed the work which has resulted in the production of the given information... The sub-contractor is allowed to use this information for research or academic purposes insofar as the commercial interests of the client are not affected.
The Principles of Forest Legislation require that forest registration and cadastre data should be subject to publication (77).
Some environment-related acts explicitly define the data access principles. For instance, governmental edict No. 532 of 03.08.92 On Increasing the Efficiency of the Use of Data on Hydrometeorology and Environmental Pollution in the National Economy states that the public and interested institutions must be provided free-of-charge with information on background environmental quality, regular weather forecasts, and natural disaster warnings, while private companies and other interested institutions (excluding federal and territorial agencies and authorities) may obtain necessary environmental and hydrometeorological data on a paid basis.
However, as mentioned before, quite often the issued acts are not appropriately accompanied by underlying guidelines and practical mechanisms, which are yet to be set up. For the time being it has been observed that "the provision or publishing of up-to-date reliable information is systematically refused" (O Pravovykh... 1994). Besides, the release of sectoral data to external users must in many cases be carried out under control of sectoral or institutional expert commissions, which can also have its practical implications.
Separate acts have also been adopted on the presidential or governmental level to regulate certain other environmental information activities, i.e. land cadastre and land monitoring, socio-hygienic monitoring, registers of radioactive materials, and national state-of-the-environment and public health reporting (see Appendix 4).
As regards the economic framework of the development of environmental systems, this must be looked at within the overall context of the situation with regard to the funding of environmental activities in Russia (see also Section 2.2). The two principal mechanisms for the funding of environmental activities are federal/territorial budgets and ecological funds (Petrov 1995). The latter are raised from various fines for violating environmental legislation, voluntary contributions, and dividends resulting from previous investments. The amount spent from these sources for environmental information purposes at either federal or territorial level depends mainly upon what degree of importance is attributed to particular kinds of environmental data by funds holders, i.e. by state agencies or local authorities. Most likely to be funded are programmes which result in economic benefits, such as territorial cadastres of natural resources. However, even in this area the interest and level of activity are not yet very high (Itkin et al. 1995).
One of the obstacles for the establishment of an appropriate level of funding is the uncertainty associated with the benefits of possessing environmental data compared with their cost. While the market value of information is often obvious, the government systems usually find it difficult to determine the value of data and information and the required amount of investments, especially under the conditions of a considerable budget deficit and inability to finance the basic needs of the society.
The problems associated with the current low level of funding of environmental information activities (see Sections 3.1 and 3.2) and of environmental management as such (see Section 2.2) make it difficult to predict how soon the concepts introduced by the above-mentioned regulations will be implemented in practice, and how this will influence the performance of the respective agencies and institutions. A major contradiction is the fact that environmental data can be made completely open only if the government takes the full financial responsibility for data generation and information analysis systems. Otherwise, either no data will be produced or efforts will be made at every level to avoid their free dissemination.
[Table of contents] [Previous part] [Next part] [References] [Order forms] [ENRIN]