antali_ya (antali_ya) wrote in ecologists,

Saving of the unique natural area

I'd like to ask you to sign the international petition for saving of the unique forest at the Black sea (in Russia)

Thank you!

Information about the problem:

Creating the Utrish reserve is one of Russia’s most important steps in
preserving biodiversity. The natural territories on the Abraussky
peninsula and the Markotkh ridge, which consist of dry subtropical sub-
Mediterranean type ecosystems, have been recognized as uniquely valuable
both in Russia and on the international level. This geographical area is
recognized as a world-class center of plant biodiversity and endemism
(WWF/IUCN 1994, 48) under the name Novorossia. The necessity of
recognizing the area as the Utrish reserve has been discussed since the
late 1980s. There have been two government decrees for its creation,
#572-r on April 23rd, 1994, and #725-r on May 23rd, 2001. The last
decree sets the deadline to create the reserve by 2010.
It is necessary to note that over the past two years the Natural
Resources and Environment Ministry was taking serious steps toward
creating the Utrish reserve and protecting the unique ecosystems on
Abraussky peninsula and the Markotkh ridge. In 2008 the Ministry
assigned to the WWF-Russia the planning of the Utrish reserve. In august
2008 the complete reserve plan was submitted to the ministry. The
planned reserve was to have two clusters, the Abraussky cluster, which
would include an aquatic zone, and the Sheskharissky cluster, which
would be located in the mountains between Kabardinka village and the
city of Novorossiysk. Such a reserve, despite its moderate area, would
preserve the most valuable territories.
The said plan was accepted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and
Environment and was supposed to be forwarded to the relevant agencies
for approval.
However, as planning for the reserve was going on, the Office of
Presidential Affairs came forth with its own project for a luxury
“sports and health complex” (de-facto a new government residence) right
in the heart of the future reserve and with transport infrastructure
that would include two auto roads. The resort project stipulates massive
alteration of landscape, shoreline and forest growth. In Fall of 2008 a
road began to be build illegally toward the site of the planned resort,
masked as a “fire safety road.” Construction of the road included
massive cutting of endangered species and was stopped only due to public
After road construction was stopped, the Office of Presidential Affairs
and the Krasnodar region administration, took measures to exclude the
site planned for the resort complex from the planned reserve. They also
excluded most of the coastal areas of the Abraussky cluster, and the
entire Sheskharissky cluster. These initiatives were unfortunately
supported by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry. The final
boundaries of the Utrish reserve, which were approved by the ministry,
do not include the most valuable areas, areas that were the reason for
creating the reserve in the first place.
Neither the ministry nor the regional authorities provided any
explanation for severely decreasing the area of the planned reserve. In
order to avoid criticism of the altered reserve plan, Krasnodar regional
authorities forcefully excluded NGO representatives and independent
experts from public hearings for the project, which were held in Anapa
and Novorossiysk on December 1st and 2nd.
Excluding the Sheskharissky cluster and the coastal areas of the
Abraussky cluster from the reserve makes creating the reserve
practically pointless. The main goal in creating the reserve in the form
finally approved by the ministry is not to protect Mediterranean and
coastal ecosystems, but to create conditions under which it would be
legal to build a government residence and other recreational venues. The
current status of the territory as the regional protected area “Zakaznik
Bolshoi Utrish” does not allow the Office of Presidential Affairs to
legally construct a residence on the shore. If the reserve is created in
the boundaries approved by the ministry, this obstacle would be removed,
despite the fact that the plot chosen for the residence is of critical
importance for the reserve. Here is why:
-Coastal areas that would become vulnerable to construction have the
most significant juniper, pistachio, juniper-pistachio, and juniper-oak
forests, for whose protection the reserve was to be created.
-The flat coastal areas are most densely inhabited by the Nikolsky
tortoise Testudo graeca nikolskii, European legless lizard Pseudopus
apodus, three-lined lizard Lacerta media, Aesculapian Ratsnake Elaphe
longissima, Dahl's Whip Snake Coluber najadum, Schmidt's Whip Snake
Dolichophis schmidti and many other species, protected in the Russian
Federation. The salt-water lagoons on the coast of the Black Sea in 72nd
and 79th quartals of the Anapa forestry, which would also fall under
construction of the resort, are a unique reproduction sites for the
four-lined goby Chromogobius quadrivittatus, which is included in the
Red Book of Krasnodar region. This species inhabits Russian territory
only on the Abrau peninsula. The chances of its survival outside of
protected territories are very slim.
For above mentioned reasons Russian environmental NGOs, scientists and
community ask the President Mr. Medvedev, the Russian Natural Resources
and Environment Ministry and other government agencies about creating
the Utrish reserve within boundaries that have been scientifically
argued, including the Sheskharissky cluster and the flat coastal areas
of the Abraussky cluster.
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