Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category

Ok, it’s time to finish the story about land monitoring in Sverdlovskaya region. In this post I would like to demonstrate some of the most unpleasant types of the land use.

Lets begin with illegal dumping. This dump (note that there is the smoke from waste burning down) is located right next to the potato field (mmm… seems these  potato are tasty). The ground was intentionally excavated here for dumping waste. Obviously this dump is exploited by the agricultural firm – owner of this land, but who cares…

Panorama of freshly burnt illegal dump

The next stop is peat cutting. A huge biotops are destroyed for no good reason (I can’t agree that use of peat as an energy source is a good one). At the picture below you can see a peat cutting with the area of 1402 ha. There are dozen of them in the study area…

Peat Cutting (RapidEye, natural colours)

But the most ugly scars on the Earth surface are left from mining works. There is Asbestos town in Sverdlovskaya region. It was names after asbestos that is mined  there. The quarry has an area of 1470 ha and its depth is over 400 meters. Its slag-heaps covers another 2500 ha… The irony is that this quarry gives a job for this town and killing it. You see, if you wand to dig dipper you have to make quarry wider accordingly. Current depth is 450 m and in projects it is over 900 m, but the quarry is already next to the living buildings. So quarry is going to consume the town… By the way, the local cemetery was already consumed. Guess what happened to human remains? Well, it is Russia, so they were dumped into the nearest slug-heap.

Here is the panorama of the quarry. You may try to locate BelAZ trucks down there 😉

Asbestos quarry

Here is the part of the biggest slag-heap:

A slag-heap

That’s how it looks from space:

Asbestos town area (imagery – RapidEye, NIR-G-B pseudo-colour composition)

And in the end I will show you the very basic schema of disturbed land in the study area (no settlements or roads included). Terrifying isn’t it?

Basic schema of disturbed land

While every normal environmental scientists perform their field surveys in Summer (unless there is a need to do this in a specific time of the year) I had to do mine when the weather was not that good. In a five days my colleague and I had to collect land monitoring archives of 3 districts of Sverdlovskaya region, soil samples for analysis for heavy metals concentrations and take pictures of the disturbed lands.


On Friday and Saturday I performed 2 installations of QGIS. Not a big deal, but…

The first installations was at the department of the land management and land monitoring of the Administration of the Rosreestr in Petrozavodsk, Republick of Karelia!!! Yeah, baby! And a great thing was that I was able to provide them with the Russian manual, thanks to the GIS-Lab! People form this department (of the land management and land monitoring) had no any GIS(!!!) … Until now.  But they needed a GIS to be able to work somehow with the MapInfo layers of the  major Land Monitoring Project of the Roseestr I took part (de jure I was a single executer for the one of the objects, but de facto beyond my primary charge, I was a supervisor for the other 3 objects out of 7). The solution was clear to me – QGIS is able to visualise .tab; it is free of charge and it is legal to use it; besides no one was going to buy anything for this department. Hope they will be using it. Here you are the place of this installation:
The second installation was performed on the notebook of my colleague by this project – a professor of the Politechnical University who teaches to work with MapInfo. The main part of the work with my object was done with QGIS and it was only finalised in MapInfo, and I’ve used an opportunity to demonstrate advantages of the open-sourced product to this professor (as I did with the Technical Report on the project to the Rosreestr). Hope he will tell about QGIS to his students (many of them are programmers for Linux by the way) and maybe he will even start to lecture on it instead of MapInfo someday. 
In addition I’ve taught the people from the department and the professor how to use GLOVIS.