Sochi win is a big challenge for Russia, says WWF
First of all, WWF is worried by the future of one of the most valuable nature areas of the Sochi national park, the Grushevaya polyana, the projected site of the bobsleigh and luge track and other sports facilities. Construction of these facilities will inevitably lead to forest logging and destruction of habitats of endangered species and unique flora and fauna of the national park.
The state environmental expert review expressed the same concerns in April 2007 by calling construction plans at the Grushevaya polyana undesirable. The experts also recommended excluding hydropower plant construction plans on the Mzymta River from the Sochi development programme.
“Now, when Russia ’s Olympic bid has won, the international public will be able to assess the country’s commitment to environmental requirements during the construction of the Olympic facilities”, says WWF-Russia CEO Igor Chestin.
WWF believes that an independent and full monitoring, including satellite monitoring, should be conducted during the preparation to the Olympic Games – 2014. It is important to construct Olympic facilities and infrastructure only at sites approved by the state environmental expert review.
“The land of protected nature areas should not be used for building facilities that have nothing to do with the Olympic Games”, says WWF-Russia Director of conservation policy Evgeny Shvarts. “Sochi development should not lead to the deterioration of nature reserves and national parks”.
According to Evgeny Shvarts, new protected areas should be created to compensate for the increasing human pressure on the unique region’s nature landscapes, some of which were recommended by the state environmental expert review for the Sochi development programme. It is also important to finally set up the Utrishsky nature reserve, approved by the Government of Russia as early as in 1994 and 2001.