WIT Press

Ecopolis – Search For Sustainable Cities In Russia


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WIT Press


M Ignatieva


Ecopolis -search for sustainable cities in Russia M. Ignatieva Faculty of Landscape Architecture, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York, USA Abstract \“Ecopolis” is an interdisciplinary program established in 1979 at Moscow State University (Russia). The main goal of this program was to understand what a sustainable city is and to find ways to harmonize the relationships between man and nature. The scientific foundation of Ecopolis was a concept of the coherent evolution of the biosphere and humankind in terms of dynamics and the concept of noosphere (Vladimir Vernadsky). The town of Pushchino (Moscow Region, 20,000 population), the Scientific Center of Biological Research of the USSR Academy of Sciences was chosen as a case study. Scientists and graduate students from Moscow State University and many other Moscow institutions worked very closely with local community and city administration. A wide range of specialists from ecologists, biologists, sociologists, psychologists, teachers and doctors, to artists and journalists were involved in theoretical investigations and practical experiments. The practical output of this program was impressive, including nature conservation through a network of wildlife reserves within the city and the nearby suburbs and halting the operation of ecologically unfriendly passenger ships on the river Oka. Recommendations to improve the town’s waste-treatment plant were considered and special ecological educational programs in schools were successfully introduced, A visible positive change in the urban environment with a wide participation of the people of Pushchino was the most significant achievement of the Ecopolis program. Ecopolis was one of the first holistic eco- sociological programs around the world that introduced the concept of ecologically sustainable cities. Because of many years of political isolation, the ideas of Russian Ecopolis were not widely known in Western countries. \“Ecopolis” ideas have been very influential in Russia during the last 20 years.