Petrozavodsk: Chronicles of Nature Books – Creating a Unified Database for Scientific Research and Planning for Joint Publications

A workshop organized in the context of the Helsinki University’s project (funded by Academy of Finland for 2011-2015) Linking environmental change to biodiversity change: long-term and large-scale data on European boreal forest biodiversity (EBFB)

Organizers.  Alla Gudym (director of Vodlozero National Park), Juri Kurhinen (EBFB Project coordinator, Helsinki University), Otso Ovaskainen (EBFB Project leader, Helsinki University)

Venue. Petrozavodsk, Vodlozero National Park Office, 15-18 April 2013

Background. Chronicles of Nature Books, published annually by National Parks and Nature Reserves through Russia, contain various kinds of valuable information about spatial and temporal patterns in biodiversity. While the Chronicles of Nature Books have been utilized in Russian language publications, very little has been published in English language scientific journals, which is surprising, given the unique nature of these data. In the context of the EBFB project, we have conducted a collaborative pilot project with Kivach Nature Reserve on phenology data (part of the Chronicles of Nature Data). Encouraged by the very positive experience, we decided to organize the workshop with the aim of extending Finnish-Russian collaboration on Chronicles of Nature Book data in several ways.

Aim. The aim of the workshop was to bring together such researchers working on Chronicles of Nature (and other related) data who are interesting in international collaboration – resulting in a common database and joint publications in English and Russian literature.

Participants. The workshop gathered in total 35 participants, out of which 30 represented different parts of (mainly) European Russia and 5 represented the Helsinki University (for the list, see participants; for a group photo taken during the field trip to Kivach Nature Reserve, see photo below).

Programme. The programme consisted of scientific talks by the participants (2 days), a field trip to Kivach Nature Reserve (0.5 days), and group work (1.5 days). For the group work we split to three subgroups: 1) Database Group, 2) Analysis Group, and 3) Discussion Group.

Outcome. The scientific presentations were most interesting and stimulating. The group work was highly successful, with the following outcomes.

  1. The Database Group identified the main data types compiled in Chronicles of Nature books and their availability among the participating organizations (see Database_group.xlsx). The next step is for the Helsinki group to prepare a www-based data entry form which the participants can use to input the Calendar data (phenology + meteodata). After this www-entries for other data types will be created, based on example files to be submitted by the participants.
  2. The Analysis Group utilized pilot data from the participating organizations to explore the possibilities that having similar data from different localities could offer. Given that only small subsets of data were available and that the analysis group had limited time, this preliminary work was highly successful in showing the potential behind compiling a common database. See the file for the report by the Analysis Group.
  3. The Discussion Group focused on the drafting the agreements that need to be signed between University of Helsinki and the participating Russian organizations. The version of the draft prepared during the meeting is found here. The EBFB project coordinator will be in contact with the participants on this issue.
  4. The need for a follow-up meeting was discussed and the idea gained lot of support. Ilminsky State Reserve, Kondinsky Lakes Reserve, Petshora-Ilytch Reserve and Helsinki University offered to host the next meeting. Out of these Ilminsky gained most support, and thus the preliminary plan is to organize a follow-up meeting (focused on scientific results, analyses, and possibly expanding the project to non-European Russia) in Ilminsky in Spring 2014.


1. Anatoli Kutenkov, 2. Juri Kurhinen, 3. Svetlana Igosheva, 4. Ekaterina Ershvova, 5. Evgeniy Meyke, 6. Otso Ovaskainen, 7. Maria Delgado, 8. Zoja Drozdova, 9. Aleksandr Suhov, 10. Svetlana Skorohodova, 11. Nadezda Kujanceva , 12. Tatjana Bespalova, 13. Irina Fedchenko, 14. Ljudmila Puchnina, 15. Eugene Kaigorodova, 16. Miroslav Babushkin, 17. Mikhail Kutuzov, 18. Leonid Simakin, 19. Nikolai Neverov, 20. Eliezer Gurarie, 21. Vladimir Bobrov, 22. Andrey Semikolennykh.
Not in the photo: Viktor Kovalev, Aleksandr Korjakin, Natalia Beliaeva, Marina Yakovleva, Milovidova Natalja, Lidija Vetchinnikova, Natalja Polikarpova, Aleksandr Shelekhov, Alla Gudym, Natalija Zamber, Larisa Nazarova, Ernest Ivanter, Alexander Artjemjev
Click picture for larger image.