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Logging Called Threat to Krasnodar Reserve!

Logging Called Threat to Krasnodar Reserve

The Moscow Times. http://www.moscowtimes.ru/article/600/42/373357.htm

23 December 2008 By Maria Antonova / Staff Writer

Krasnodar regional authorities are turning a blind eye to a massive, illegal logging project in a nature reserve on the Black Sea, local environmentalists say, in what could be an attempt to open the protected area to commercial tourism.

A local forestry official confirmed that logging was being done in the park, but denied that the project violated federal or local environmental protections.

Officially, the project is a four-kilometer fire safety road bisecting the Bolshoi Utrish reserve, connecting an existing road on its border with the Black Sea. But officials admitted that the road would be used for recreational development of the coast, and environmentalists said the construction would irrevocably damage the park, which is on track to receive the federal government’s most protected status.

Converting pristine areas along the Black Sea into resorts has been a lucrative business for the Russian construction industry, particularly since investors started flocking to the region after Sochi was chosen to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The Bolshoi Utrish reserve is located about 250 kilometers up the coast from Sochi and just 15 kilometers south of the resort city Anapa.

Loggers have already cut into the park from both sides by more than a kilometer, chopping down thousands of trees that are in the Red Book of endangered species, said Andrei Rudomakha, coordinator of the North Caucasus Environmental Watch, an organization based in Maikop, the capital of the neighboring Adygeya republic.

The dry, subtropical forest in the reserve is unique in Russia and is the northernmost such forest in the world, environmentalists said.

“Judging by the impudence and the scale of work, some big interests are involved in this project,” Rudomakha said. “Everything about this construction is illegal from start to finish, and nobody is doing anything to stop it.”

Activists’ Efforts

Bolshoi Utrish is a zakaznik, a protected park where some recreational use, such as camping, is permitted. Under a 2001 government decree, the park is supposed to become a zapovednik by 2010, making it federally protected with strict regulations on any human activity.

And although the park remains protected on paper, the zakaznik administration was dispersed in the late 1990s because of a lack of funding. It is now managed by the regional branch of the Federal Forestry Agency, which ordered the road’s construction.

According to federal law, any logging activity in a protected area has to undergo a state environmental assessment, which includes public hearings and a calculation of environmental damage, said Mikhail Kreindlin, an expert for Greenpeace in Russia. Another federal law prohibits the destruction of endangered species, and regional authorities themselves prohibited any road construction in this park in 1994, he said.

Official Response

Alexander Byuller, a deputy head of the Krasnodar region forestry agency, confirmed by phone that the 8-meter-wide road was being built for the agency’s “internal use.”

“The purpose of the clearings is building a fire safety road,” Byuller said. He said the felling of endangered species of trees was not prohibited for such purpose, and he denied that the work was illegal because it was cleared by the regional department of emergency situations and state environmental control.

For MT

The State Duma blocked an inquiry.

But when asked whether the road would be used solely for fire safety, Byuller said it would “also give access to the coast, where the forestry is already offering plots of land for recreational use.”

Earlier this year, someone already won the right to rent 100 hectares on the coast in an auction, he said. “I don’t know what will be there, nobody showed me the project,” he said.

Although the park’s status permits recreational use, clear cutting is prohibited and only temporary structures can be put up. Difficult access to the park’s interior has so far ruled out mass tourism, although it attracts campers, some of whom live in the park year-round.

Byuller said the road would help spread tourism more evenly across the coast and make the region “more like Europe,” where protected areas have good road networks and facilities.

“These Rudomakhas should be forced to work for the state and pay taxes,” instead of “being financed from abroad to chain themselves to things,” he said. “He should take a chainsaw and go chop some wood for socially unprotected babushkas.”

He also expressed little concern for the tourists already enjoying the park, calling them “nudists on the wild beach.”

Environmentalists say they are stunned that the regional department of the Federal Inspection Service for Natural Resources Use — the environmental watchdog of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry — is allowing the works to continue.

North Caucasus Environmental Watch has sent the watchdog, which is responsible for protecting endangered species, repeated requests to look into the issue, Rudomakha said.

Natalya Maltseva, the deputy head of Krasnodar region’s branch of the watchdog, declined to comment for this story and advised calling the press department of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry. The ministry’s press service said they had no information on the situation.

Rudomakha’s group has also sent letters to Yevgeny Golovachyov, the nature protection prosecutor for the Azov and Black Sea district, asking him to look into the logging.

Golovachyov also declined to comment before receiving official permission from the Krasnodar regional prosecutor. A faxed request sent Wednesday to the regional prosecutor went unanswered.

Tourist Petition

Russians who regularly spend summers in Bolshoi Utrish have written a petition to President Dmitry Medvedev that was signed by more than 4,600 people from Moscow and other cities, said Maria Alyokhina, a Muscovite who is one of the petition organizers. The signatures were taken to the presidential administration on Monday, and a sanctioned rally is to take place Tuesday at 2 p.m. near the Krasnopresnenskaya metro station.

“We are appalled that they are cutting trees in what we consider our second home,” said Alyokhina, adding that rumors were circulating that the site would be completely closed to the public to create a new government dacha. Alyokhina estimated that about 1,000 people camp in Utrish every summer.

Campers at the park confirmed that construction work deep in the heart of the reserve was in full swing. “Clear cutting is still being done by three logging teams close to the coast, and there is also a team of land surveyors who are using drilling equipment,” Nikolai Linnik, who is one of 15 people currently living in the reserve, said by phone last week.

Linnik said a “campaign is under way since this summer to discredit Utrish and its dwellers,” which has included “provocations” by unknown men and local police, who subsequently jailed some campers for up to five days for assault of an officer. He also said drug control officials from Anapa had planted marijuana in one of the camper’s trailers.

Some people live in the reserve for years at a time, Linnik said. “We are the only ones who survey it and take out the trash,” he said.

Outcome in Doubt

The fate of Bolshoi Utrish and other protected parks remains an open question as major commercial interests — particularly logging and tourism — make the country’s environment laws difficult to enforce and profitable to flout.

The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said in May that the reserve was still on track to receive the strictly protected zapovednik status.

On Dec. 10, State Duma Deputy Sergei Obukhov, a Communist from the Krasnodar region, called for an inquiry into the government over the allegedly illegal logging, but the pro-Kremlin party United Russia, which has an overwhelming majority in the Duma, blocked the inquiry.

Obukhov has since written five personal inquiries regarding the reserve to various officials, including Krasnodar Governor Alexander Tkachyov, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Yury Trutnev, and Vladimir Kirillov, head of the ministry’s environmental watchdog. Given Obukhov’s status as a deputy, such inquiries must be acted on and responded to within 30 days.

“An official request from the Duma to the government would be processed much faster and would not be waved off,” Obukhov said in a phone interview. “But the deputies decided against it.”

“This is a regular occurrence,” Obukhov said. “When big money comes into the picture, nature falls silent and nobody cares about the environment.”

Public appeal

Here we stand with a desperate appeal.

The felling of juniper and pistache trees is underway in Bolshoy Utrish wildlife sanctuary at the Black Sea coast in Krasnodarsky Krai. They are felling trees and laying out a road.Works started at the beginning of December have been carried out nonstop round the clock,

resulting in vast spaces of clear-cuts.Notwithstanding hundreds of letters and appeals addressed by individuals and ecological organizations to local authorities and the government, there has been no response.

We urge you to make this matter public and stop the destruction of natural habitats which are the heritage not only of Russia but also of the world community.

Photographs and information can be found at http://www.save-utrish.ru/category/news

St Petersburg Charity Foundation “Children of the City”

Murmansk Regional Youth Public Environmental Organization “Priroda I Molodezh” (Nature and Youth)

(contact utrish2008@gmail.com )

http://www.ewnc.org/?q=node/1922 (Rus)

Ecological watch of the North Caucasus
Information distribution
The 10th of December, 2008
The statement of social ecological organizations concerning the emergency situation with the construction of a road on the territory of the wildlife area “Bolshoi Utrish”

Our organizations are extremely worried about the emergency situation in the wildlife area “Bolshoi Utrish” located in the area of the resort town Anapa. These days a motor road “Sukko-Utrish” is being built there. There is an intention to make much of the road right on the territory of Bolshoi Utrish. As a result of the construction works, several thousands of trees were cut out, natural landscapes were damaged on the considerable part of the area. These activities damage the nature of this especially protected area very much.

Unique natural complexes of Mediterranean type subtropical forests which are inhabited by many rare and protected plants and animals included into the Red book and the Red list of the International Union of the Nature protection were preserved in the “Bolshoi Utrish”. Here the only inviolate forest track of such forests in Russia is situated.

The safety of this area is an issue of not only national but also international importance. For 30 years already the idea of making a natural reserve here has been relevant. It is confirmed by 2 instructions of the RF government – № 572 from the 23rd of April, 1994 and №725 from the 23rd of May, 2001. According to the last instructions the natural reserve “Utrish” should be established not later than in 2010. Ecological and economic grounds for its creation were collected. The road construction contradicts the RF government plans as in case the road is built further, it will be impossible to establish the reserve.

Besides the fact that unique nature complexes, considered to be world’s treasures and Russia’s pride, are damaged, our organizations are outraged by the fact that the construction works are illegal, they damage the wildlife area and no positive conclusion of the state ecological expertise was received.

The ecological watch of the North Caucasus, the WWF of Russia, The Greenpeace of Russia and the International social and ecological union appeal to the state agencies and, first of all, the administration of the Krasnodarskii region, that is in charge of the wildlife area, to take prompt action to stop the motor road “Sukko-Utrish” construction. We appeal to the Ministry for natural resources and ecology of the RF that should work more intensively on the natural reserve “Utrish” establishment.

Ecological watch of the North Caucasus

WWF of Russia
Greenpeace of Russia
International social and ecological union

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

Many people all around Russia became extremely anxious about the situation in the sanctuary ‘Bolshoy Utrish’, which is located on the territory of the city-resort Anapa, Krasnodarsky Krai. There started a construction of a highway, the most part of which is supposed to go through the territory of the sanctuary and сonnect two towns Sukko and Utrish. Several thousands of trees were cut down as a result of the construction. The natural landscape was destroyed. Those activities cause an irreplaceable damage to a natural complex on such a protected natural territory. There have remained unique natural complexes of subtropical woods of the Mediterranean type in the sanctuary ‘Bolshoy Utrish’. Those woods are inhabited by many rare and protected kinds of plants and animals, included in The Red Book and The red list of the International Union of Wildlife management. This is the only one forest tract of that kind on the territory of Russian Federation which was not destroyed. This is a place where you can meet: butcher’s-broom, pistacia mutica F. et. M., Juniperus foetidissima Willd,Elaphe longissima (Laurenti, 1768),Testudo graeca Nikolskii and others. A lot of those trees were cut down during last few days.

The protection of this territory has the international significance.

It has been more then 30 years since they started talking about the creation of the sanctuary. This was consolidated by two decrees by the government of Russian Federation- №572-р from 23.04.1994 and №725-р from 23.05.2001. According to the last one decree there should be created the sanctuary on this territory by 2010. There was prepared an ekologo-economic substantiation of the necessity of creation of the sanctuary. The building of the road conflicts with these plans of the governments of Russian Federation. If the road is constructed, there will be impossible to create the sanctuary.

Works started at the beginning of December and have been carried out nonstop round the clock, resulting in vast spaces of clear-cuts. There was created a cutting which is already longer then 1 km. Notwithstanding hundreds of letters and appeals addressed by individuals and ecological organizations to local authorities and the government, there has been no response. Since the government does not respond, and there is a danger of the whole area being used for the elite building, we urge you to make this matter public and stop the destruction of natural habitats which are the heritage not only of Russia but also of the world community.

Ekaterina Pavlushchenko.


Caper on the Black Sea coast

February 11, 2008

Russian Federation — The Russian Federation — January, 29th, 2008 scientists and representatives of the public ecological organisations have addressed to the President, the Government, the General Public prosecutor of the Russian Federation, to the Governor of Krasnodar territory with the requirement to stop immediately the destruction of the unique natural complex of the «Bolshoi Utrish» Game Preserve located near the Anapa Resort in Krasnodarsky krai.

The Preserve formed in 1986, is an unique space of the almost untouched relic juniper woods at the Black Sea coast. Here are three kinds of arbuscular junipers, a lot of endemic plants, about 60 kinds of plants and animals brought in the Red book. In view of value of this territory under the order of the Government of the Russian Federation from May, 23rd, 2001 N 725-r till 2010 the State Natural Reserve «Utrish» here should be formed.

Attempts of capture of this territory by different private structures became frequent last two years. Cases of poaching and illegal cuttings down became frequent too.

On November, 22-23rd, 2007 in the territory of the reserve near the lake Zmeinoe the significant space of juniper pistache-woodland was cut down and cleared away for construction of the road. It was found out, that on October, 21st 2007 this space was transferred by the order of the head of administration of Anapa in rent for 5 years to OC “Rosinvest”, which admitted the roughest infringements of the nature protection legislation.

“Unfortunately, the check did not make necessary legal actions for an establishment of the size of the harm put to natural complexes and it did not help to attract guilty persons to responsibility, - Mikhail Kreindlin, the head of the protected natural territories project, said, - Most likely it means, that the local authorities are interested in site development of the unique territory, and they interfered objective check in every possible way”.

The Greenpeace organization of Russian Federation supports the reference of experts and NGOs and we hope that the federal authorities will take necessary measures for preservation of the unique nature complex of the «Bolshoi Utrish» Game Preserve, and will involve guilty in responsibility.

An Open Letter


Mr V.V. Putin, President of the Russian Federation

Mr D.A. Medvedev, First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation

Mr A.D. Zhukov, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation

Mr U.P. Trutnev, Minister of Natural resources of the Russian Federation

Mr U.Ya. Chaika, Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation

Mr L.G. Korzhinek, Prosecutor, Krasnodarsky Krai

Mr A.N. Tkachev, Head of Administration of Krasnodarsky Krai

Mr .N. Pakhomov, Head of Administration, resort town of Anapa

Dear Sirs,

Aren’t you fond of the Black Sea?
You surely are.
Isn’t it the thing from childhood - yours and ours?
It is also our future and that of our children.
That is why we appeal to each and every of you – it is of vital importance to spare the Bolshoy Utrish Nature Preserve. The immediate address may pave the way to the development of the whole Black Sea coast of Russia.

The 12.5 km stretch of the sanctuary established in 1986 lies between the settlements of Maly and Bolshoy Utrish. It is the only area of all but virgin relict juniper forest on the Black Sea coast (three species of evergreen juniper trees, lots of endemic plants and animals that are registered in the Red Data Book). Owing to its specific value and in accordance with the Direction issued by the Russian Government on 23rd May 2001 (No. 725-p), there shall be established a state nature reserve “Utrish”. The would-be nature reserve and hitherto preserved sanctuary will not only protect the wildlife of this still virginal stretch of the Black Sea coast, but also contribute to the sustainability of the environment along the whole of the seaside between Anapa and Novorossiysk.

Several years ago the directorate of the Nature Preserve was broken up, in 2007 the Anapa urban forestry followed suit. Yet, with the Nature Preserve still enjoying its official status, various private entities kept making attempts to encroach on its territory during the recent two years. Instances of poaching have become more and more frequent. Private entrepreneurs felled both dead and live relict juniper trees in the coastal part of the Nature Preserve. Felling has gained momentum.

On the 22nd -23rd November 2007, a large spot of juniper and pistachio tree forest nearby Zmeinoye Lake was cleared to make room for construction of a motorway. This immediately brought along several appeals to RosPrirodNadzor (Russian nature protection inspectorate) and the Office of Public Prosecutor in Krasnodarsky Krai made by public organizations, citizens of Anapa, followed by extensive coverage in the press.

Chernomorsk inter-regional group at the Directorate of RosPrirodNadzor in Krasnodarsky Krai together with a representative of Anapa inter-regional prosecution and a representative of the Ecological Watch-Over in the Northern Caucasus responded with an inspection to check whether the nature protection laws had been observed prior the felling. It turned out that on 21st October 2007, a month before the clearing of the forest, this spot of land had been leased by Head of Administration of the resort town of Anapa to RosInvest Co. Ltd for 5 years, the latter having grossly violated the nature preservation legislation. The situation grows beyond a particular instance, which is a very alarming matter.

At present, with the run-up for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, establishment of a special economic zone of tourist-recreational type in Karasnodarsky Krai, blueprints for the development of transport infrastructure on the coast, other projects and measures for its development, many coastal territories are undergoing a change in official status. All these undertakings have not become systemic yet. Fears are quick to emerge lest part of the Bolshoy Utrish Nature Reserve should be alienated; moreover, other ecologically valuable territories might suffer as well.

We would appreciate it very much if all-out measures should be taken to preserve the unique sanctuary, its structure and its staff be restored and the Direction issued by the Government of the Russian Federation (N 725-p) on the establishment of a state nature reserve should be implemented by the set target date.

We would also like to suggest that the Russian Government, Krasnodarsky Krai Administration and its municipal entities should join their efforts – together with groups of experts and eminent specialists engaged in ecological territorial planning, nature protection, recreational planning, addressing ecological, economic and social problems, and in concert with general public – to openly discuss the problems of the whole Black Sea coast and work out an ecological and socially responsible strategy of its development. We are determined to make every possible effort to achieve this aim and we hope that the addressees will respond with similar initiatives.

We would appreciate it very much if you send your answers to all the electronic addresses listed below.

Prof. A.V. Drozdov, PhD, senior researcher at the Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences;

V.P. Chizhova, PhD, senior researcher at the Department of Geography, Moscow State University;

Prof. V.V. Akatov, PhD, head of the Ecology and Nature Reserve section at Maykop state technological university;

T.V. Akayova, PhD, senior researcher at Caucasian state nature biosphere reserve;

M.S. Ruzina, Programme Director, St Petersburg Charity Foundation “Deti Goroda” (Children of the City); since 1994 contributing to the cause of the Nature Reserve;

S.V. Yermolaev, head of Krasnodar regional nature protection public organization “Utrish”;

V.V. Mitrofanenko, plenipotentiary at the Russian charity foundation “No to alcoholism and drug addiction”, docent at Sociology and Social Work section at North-Caucasian state technological university;

A.V. Rudomakha, coordinator at the Ecological Watch Northern Caucasus.



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