Illegal construction halted in a nature reserve in the Russian Caucasus
Last week the Border Guard finished dismantling 3 buildings and 2 bridges, which they illegally constructed in April and May in the center of the protected area, right in the middle of animal migration routes. Today staff of the Caucasus nature reserve informed WWF that the Border Guard are taking away the last construction materials from the site.
WWF also received a letter from the Military Prosecution, in reply to the joint appeal by WWF and Greenpeace made in May. According to the Prosecution, it will further investigate the case to determine the guilt of certain members of the Border Control.
According to the Caucasus nature reserve, the damage to the environment caused by the illegal construction totals 429 375 rubles (about 13 500 US Dollars). The greatest damage was done to the soil, which the reserve now has to repair to return it to the original condition.
According to Anatoly Kudaktin, chief research officer of the Caucasian reserve, now animals can freely migrate in the area. The deer mating season is beginning, and soon the reserve workers will conduct their census and determine whether the construction works have had a negative impact on the population.
“We are glad that in this case law has won and the reserve has been saved by our joint efforts”, - Vladimir Krever, the head of the WWF-Russia biodiversity program says.
Here, on the intersection of two rivers – Tsakhvoa and Malaya Laba – animals such as red deer, European bison, wild boars, and brown bears, have important seasonal migration routes. The construction would drastically reduce their populations. The prey base of the Persian leopard would also be affected, and therefore military invasion could threaten the reintroduction of the rare cat to the Caucasus. According to the project, the leopards bred in the special center at the bordering Sochi national park, are to be released into the wild nature of the Caucasus reserve.
The Border Guard started the illegal construction of its military base in the middle of the Caucasus nature reserve, despite the objection of the reserve staff, in April 2012. WWF and Greenpeace appealed to the Russian Military Prosecution and UNESCO in May 2012.