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The problems of development and conservation of the mountain and foothill ecosystems of the North Caucasian Republics

THE 2ND ARCHITECTURE Festival of the North Caucasus interregional Association of the Union of architects of Russia, «Tradition and innovation in the architecture of the North Caucasus», was held from October 30 to November 3, 2013 in Nalchik, KBR.
Delegations from the Karachay-Cherkess Republic, Stavropol region, Northern Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Dagestan, Chechen Republic and guests from Moscow, Saint Petersburg and other regions of Russia took part in the work of this major architecture forum. A wide range of issues was considered during the festival, from the creation of the «Chamber of architects»— a new form of a professional organization which allows the Russian architects to adequately represent themselves in the World Trade Organization (WTO), to the traditional competition of architectural projects in various nominations.Our attention was attracted to a problem that not only was often mentioned in the official reports of the speakers, but also emotionally discussed by the specialists in the lobby interviews. It was the problem of the relationship between investors and architects.In most cases, the investor aims to build on the assigned territory, and then sell (or rent) as many square meters of housing as possible.
The architect strives not only for the aesthetic appearance of an architectural object, but also to minimize the anthropogenic and technogenic burden on the environment. In the Western countries, when such a situation arises, priority is given to the architects. In Russia, the case is often described by the well-known proverb «he who pays the piper calls the tune». As a result, modern architectural objects that do not develop the individual styles of their cities but spoil it become more and more frequent in the urban environment of the cozy North Caucasian cities. Besides, it's not enough to build a large architectural object. It is also necessary to ensure the object's functioning with the suitable energy resources, aquiring them from the city (the city's energy grid). Таking into account the existing deficiencies in regional territorial planning and in the master plans of the cities in some regions of the North Caucasus Federal district, this fact threatens to cause serious problems for the cities' uninterrupted provision with water, electricity, sewerage, etc. in the future. It should also be noted that the excessive anthropogenic and technogenic impact on the territory occupied by the architectural object will negatively affect the health of the people who will live in the object or to visit it. As it is usually said in such cases, one can hope that eventually, life will make constructive changes in the situation. The question of whether it was possible to make a positive impact today was posed by the attendees of the festival.

The problem of the mutual relations of investors and architects had an unexpected topical continuation. It is known that there are plans to actively involve the mountain and foothill areas of the North Caucasian republics in the recreation, tourism and sport industry.To do this, the authorities formed relevant companies and planned vast financial resources. Regional plans of development of recreational complexes on the mountain and foothill areas include all necessary topics, including economic, architectural and ecological. But a closer look at the methods of calculation of acceptable anthropogenic and technogenic burden on the ecosystems of these areas shows that they use some averaged values of environmental parameters. But unlike environmentalists of the Central regions of Russia, who are usually performing calculations of the ecological section, any resident of the North Caucasus Federal district republics knows that the nature of each and every mountain gorge is unique. Moreover, the dry concept of «uniqueness» cannot convey the variety of all external aesthetic and internal biological, physical and chemical differences. Every mountain gorge is a world of its own, with its flora and fauna, special soil, water and air. It is obvious that active development of the territory of these «unique worlds» requires unique methods of monitoring and conservation of its ecosystems. These unique methods, on the other hand, must also fully observe the economic interests of investors. With finding a solution to this complex, multifactorial problem in mind, the festival attendees expressed keen interest in the specific practical suggestions of experts of the Institute of Transdisciplinary Technology (Nalchik, KBR).

Let us remind that the term «ecosystem» was introduced by the British ecologist A.Tansley in 1935. An ecosystem is a community of objects of biotic and abiotic nature, the biodiversity of which enables a stable circulation of matter and energy within the boundaries of a certain territory. To understand how difficult it is for ecologists to find a solutions able to preserve a specific ecosystem, it should be noted that they should consider at least 49 laws and rules which regulate its existence (A. A. Gorelov, 2008).

But there are more difficulties. (Fig.1). Вставка фото — pic.1 .jpg Among these laws are the laws of deterministic type, which strictly regulate the relationships between the elements of ecosystem. Many of the laws are the trend laws that act only when the disturbances of the mutual relations of the elements in the ecosystem have reached a large scale. And, finally, there are "aphorism laws", which can be considered as the laws of diversity restriction. In these circumstances, predicting the response of the mountain and foothill ecosystems to the excessive anthropogenic and technogenic burden, as well as the search for the solution of the ecosystem preservation while keeping the economic interests of the investors problem, forces us to pay attention not so much to the specific laws and regulations, as to the patterns of the mechanisms of the integral ecosystem functioning. From here on, the problem enters the area of the transdisciplinary methodology.

Description of the integral functioning of an ecosystem involves the introduction of appropriate transdisciplinary concepts and terms. For example, numerous quantitative and qualitative parameters of an ecosystem's matter and energy cycle can be designated with only one transdisciplinary term «potency» (latent power of an ecosystem, which manifests under certain conditions). The role of «certain conditions» is given to a community of objects of biotic and abiotic nature and the relationships between them. Therefore the understanding of how the potency of an ecosystem is distributed on a specific territory and of the mechanism of its manifestation and transformation will make it possible to come closer to solving the problems discussed above.

Often the nature itself helps in finding solutions for complex multifactor problems. For example, it is known that soil desiccation leads to its cracking. Fracturing is observed both in the depth and on the surface. A soil fragment, separated from other fragments by fissures is called takyr. It is interesting that the surface fracturing (takyrisation) is discovered not only under our feet. It turnes out, the takyrisation can be found in all spheres of the Earth: the atmosphere, the hydrosphere and the lithosphere.The planetary fracturing was known in geology since the beginning of the XX century. The planetary fracturing network was confirmed during the decryption of the maps of anomalous geophysical fields and was named «regular matrix of the Earth's crust». Interestingly, the shapes of the cyclones and anticyclones change with their movement in general accordance with the structure of the local «regular matrix of the Earth's crust». Fracture zones of the seabed can be recognized in the fracturing picture of the Arctic ocean's ice cover and the unevenness of the World ocean's surface follows the outlines of the larger structures of the ocean floor fracturing (Golubev V, 2008). The takyrs' outlines are clearly manifested in the contours of the political boundaries (Fig.1). All this has allowed making assumption that in nature, the boundaries of a particular ecosystem coincides with the boundaries of the takyr territory of certain size. Smaller takyrs constitute the structure of a larger one, consistently dividing the ecosystem into its natural fragments. Within the framework of a transdisciplinary methodology it was possible to propose the model of a «spatial unit of order» (Fig.2).

This model demonstrates the consequential consolidation of takyrs and, therefore, uncovers the spatial structure of ecosystems. This spatial organization of an ecosystem arranges the distribution of its unique features and characteristics by individual fragments of its territory.

The experiments conducted to study the fragments' properties of the transdisciplinary model of the spatial unit of order with test objects of biotic and abiotic nature (aquatic microorganisms, chemicals solutions, electronic devices) showed results that surprised scientists. It turned out that, other conditions being equal, the results of experiments in spatial fragments were not the same (PutintsevA. I., 1995).The processes occurring in the fragments I and II converged to the results characteristic for the normal (reference) ecosystem condition. The processes in the III and IV fragments corresponded to the actual (current) one. This can be seen on the size and appearance of the sodium chloride crystals formed in the different areas of the model (Fig.3).

The results of these experiments allowed to make the following conclusions:

— the term «ecosystem» is to be understood not just as a territory, but as a territory of a strictly defined size;

— the boundaries of an ecosystem's territory, as well as the boundaries of its territorial fragments, can be identified by overlapping the maps of the region with the corresponding model of the spatial unit of order;

— the identical processes of matter and energy transformation occurring in different fragments of an ecosystem have a different impact on the overall condition of the ecosystems;

— therefore, by maintaining the condition of certain fragments of an ecosystem, it is possible to create a required response of the ecosystem as a whole to the excessive anthropogenic and technogenic burden or, to put it simply, to control the overall ecosystem condition.
In practice, when solving the problems of the mutual relations of architects and investors, these findings lead to the development of a list of compensatory measures. The "measures" meaning mandatory architectural and other solutions that must be implemented in a certain fragment (or fragments) of an ecosystem, the architectural solutions varying from wildlife preservation and greenbelt expansion to minor architectural forms using specific natural or artificial materials. The list of compensatory measures may include a number of other solutions suitable for each ecosystem, taking into account its specific features.

The idea of using compensatory measures has been implemented in a number of landscape architectural projects that won diplomas in the competitions of this festival and other architects' forums. This allows us to hope for the wide introduction of the transdisciplinary technologies into the fields of construction and architecture in other regions of Russia and the North Caucasus.

However, the formation of the ecosystem's response to the excessive anthropogenic and technogenic burden is only half the story. Any interference in the biological process of an ecosystem requires means of objective monitoring of its general condition. The monitoring should allow real time observations of the changes in the general condition of the ecosystem occurring due to the influence of the compensatory measures. Otherwise, improper activities can lead to serious negative consequences for the ecosystems. Being aware of this, the specialists of the Institute of transdisciplinary technologies have developed in 2008 the automated system of monitoring of the overall condition of an ecosystem — ASM «Express-ecolog».

The work of the ASM «Express-ecolog» is based on the following principles. As it was mentioned above, an ecosystem is characterized by two parameters, which are relevant to its integral functioning. They are the definite structure of takyrs, and numerous quantitative and qualitative parameters of the matter and energy cycle of ecosystems, which were identified with one transdisciplinary term «potency». To obtain information about the state of the potency conversion in an ecosystem within a certain particular structure of takyrs, it is necessary to use an identical structure of the device (dosimeter). Test-objects in passive mode were placed in the nodes of its design. The role of these test-objects was played by quartz oscillators. As a result, the instrument (dosimeter) acted as an antenna, resonating with the takyr structure of the ecosystem's territory of a certain size. Changes in the oscillators'frequency similar to the behavior of mercury in mercury thermometers. Thus it became possible to create a generic «thermometer», which not only reported the information about the «health condition» of the ecosystem in real time, but also made it possible to see the process of the potency accumulation in it, for executing or supporting certain natural phenomena. Information from dosimeters is transmitted to the base computer via cellular networks. Special software decrypts the information from dosimeters and displays it on the screen in the form of graphs. Periodicity of measurements of the current state of the ecosystem's territory can vary from 3 minutes to two weeks. An example of graphical information about the general condition of the foothill ecosystems of the North Caucasus is shown in Fig.4.

Thus, the use of transdisciplinary technologies of zoning of an ecosystem's territory and also the development and implementation of compensation measures and introduction of the «Express-ecolog» automated monitoring systems gives us hope that the complex multifactor problems of the relationship between architects and investors, the population of mountain territories and investors, can get a positive solution. The effect of such a solution could be considerably enhanced through the creation of regional public Centers of monitoring of the overall status of the territory of mountain and foothill ecosystems. Ensuring free access of the population, specialists of concerned organizations, as well as investors to the information on ecosystems published in real time will significantly reduce the social tension that inevitably arises as a result of active development of these territories.

B.C. Мокий

By V. Mokiy

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«Золотая площадь». Международный журнал культурной и деловой жизни.
The Golden Plaza. International Magazine of Culture and Business.
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