Trilateral cooperation on Environmental Challenges in the Joint Border Area

This project ended in May 2015. Read more about the result of the project here.

The goal of the Trilateral cooperation on Environmental Challenges in the Joint Border Area (TEC) project is to produce information on environmental impacts of airborne emissions, regulation of waterways and climate change in the Finnish-Norwegian-Russian border region.

The project is made of five sub-projects which are:

  • Model calculations to obtain knowledge and information on the emissions, dispersion and deposition of airborne pollutants in the transboundary area
  • Comparison of national and international classifications of ecological state of surface waters.
  • Influence of pollution and climate variation in small rivers indicated by freshwater pearl mussels
  • Effects of hazardous substances, water level regulation and climate change on the ecological condition on the of the River Pasvik and Lake Inari
  • Evaluation and development of existing lake monitoring network of River Pasvik catchment area.
Environmental cross-border cooperation requires common practices for evaluating the state of surface waters. Nordic countries and Russia are using different classification systems and the project will give recommendations for using of the most reliable classifications, limit values and standards which are best suitable for the northern regions.

Main focus of the existing monitoring is set on the changes taking place under the varying load of the large Pechenganikel industrial complex on the Kola Peninsula. However, the harmful effects of the acidic pollution have reduced during the last decade while it seems that the emissions of some of the heavy metals (nickel, copper and mercury) have increased during the last 5 years. In the same time, the awareness has risen towards the risks induced by climate change and long-distance transport of hazardous substances.

The effects of these threats are regarded to be most severe in naturally harsh and species-poor arctic environments. Therefore it is important to "update" the existing monitoring by selecting parameters, which are sensitive to changes in climate and accumulation of toxic and hazardous substances.

During the project an ecological computer model which estimates the effects of changing climate into the Lake Inari ecology is developed. The results which the model gives are used for recommendations on the regulation of the lake.

Partners and more information

This is a cooperation project between Finland, Norway and Russia where the partners are:
  • Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Lapland (ELYLAP) - lead partner
  • Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)
  • Institute of the Industrial Ecology Problems of the North of Kola Science Centre (INEP)
  • Murmansk Administration for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (MAHEM)
  • The State Nature Reserve Pasvik (Pasvik Zapovednik, PZ)
  • Office of the County Governor of Finnmark (FMFI)
  • Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU)
  • Akvaplan-niva AS (APN) / NIVA
  • Bioforsk Svanhovd
  • University of Tromsø
The duration of the project is from 1 March 2012 till 31 December 2014 and it's funded by the Kolarctic ENPI program.

Lake sediments are layered materials that have drifted and fallen to the bottom of the lake. In the small lakes in the Inari-Pasvik region the top centimeters have been formed during the last 10-20 years, but already sediments from the depths of 30-40 cm tell us about the environmental situation of the pre-industrial time in the Kola Peninsula. These samples are taken in April 2013 when the ice cover is still strong.

The Vätsäri wilderness area, located on the north-eastern side of Lake Inari, has a large number of watercourses: 50,000 ha of watercourses out of a total surface area of 155,000 ha. The watercourses in the area are typically sensitive to acidification.  

 Zoobenthos-web.jpg  raakut_web.jpg
The zoobenthos reacts very sensitively to the changes in the acidity and the other water quality changes. That’s why many zoobenthos species are good as bioindicators telling us what is happening in the water environment.
The freshwater pearl mussels (Margaritifera margaritifera) are excellent indicators of environmental changes, as they have solid and impermeable shells that retain incorporated elements from the surrounding water. The mussels can be used as “archive” of the environmental situation back to the time it was young, i.e. more than 100 years. Note that only naturally dead mussels are used for analyses!

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