Caper on the Black Sea coast

Feature story - 11 February, 2008
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.

Bolshoi Utrish Game Preserve

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

to:

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.