The Movement of Nature-Protection Squads, the Social and Ecological Union /SoES/, Greenpeace Russia and Moscow's ecological police are conducting a large-scale operation called Pervotsvet, or Early Spring Flowers, whose purpose is to prevent collection and sale of rare and protected species of spring flowers. The operation was launched in Moscow and other cities of Russia, as well as in Ukraine, the Caucasian Biospheric Reserve, in the direction of the Ukrainian and Caucasian railway lines.
The spring flowers most often sold in Moscow are snow drops galianthus, cyclamen Colchicum, cyclamen Kuznetsov, crocus geyfeli, and some other kinds of wild flowers listed in the Red Books of Russia and Ukraine. Picking these flowers in the Crimea, the Caucasus and Southern Russia, collectors trample vast territories of reserved woods. One-third of the plants gathered gets thrown away during the sorting procedure, transportation and sale. Such barbarian methods of handling flowers have brought these particular species to the verge of extinction.
Since the mid-seventies, the Nature-Protection Squad of Moscow State Lomonosov University was trying its best to protect the spring flowers. In the way it is conducted today, the operation was launched in 1998. The effort almost halved the amount of flowers imported to Moscow. Flowers are being confiscated from vendors or arrested in large quantities at railway terminals.
The operation called Pervotsvet-2003 covers several different directions. The Nature-Protection Squad and the ecological police will carry out special joint raids to seize flowers from vendors offering them at open-air markets and railway terminals. The flowers seized will be handed over to hospitals and children's homes. Simultaneously, the Caucasian State Biospheric Reserve and laboratories of the Lomonosov University's Biological Faculty will launch a research to find out the extent of damage people cause by collecting these flowers.
The purpose of ecological and educational activities is to lower the demand for early spring flowers among the population, which is extremely difficult to do, because after a long winter, each of us would love to get hold of a "live messenger" of spring...
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