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PUBLIC PROSECUTION OFFICE: THE CONSTRUCTION OF A ROAD IN THE SOCHI NATIONAL PARK RESERVE IS ILLEGAL

12 march 2021
The Sochi Interdistrict Environmental Prosecutor’s Office confirmed the concerns of WWF that the roads being built on the territory of the Sochi National Park have not passed the state environmental assessment.

How did it all start?

Rosa Khutor LLC, developing its ski resort, paved the way through the Sochi National Park and the Sochi Nature Reserve. This road repeatedly overlaps the designated water area and the protective strip of the Mzymta river, and many trees were destroyed during its laying. According to satellite data, the road has been under construction for about 3 years and has come close to the borders of the Caucasus Reserve in the "Engelmanovy Polyany" area .

What's the problem?

This road passes within the boundaries of specially protected areas, and it has obvious signs of capital construction. This means that previously an object of this kind must necessarily undergo an Environmental Impact Assessment. It determines what damage the construction of the facility will cause to nature and wildlife, and how existing risks can be reduced. The result of the Impact Assessment is a conclusion containing reasonable observations about the compliance or non-compliance of the planned activity with the environmental requirements established by legislation in the field of environmental protection. The construction of a road on the territory of a protected area leads to degradation and destruction of the soil. It can disrupt the migration corridors of animals, and also contributes to the pollution of the territory, the death of flora and fauna of wildlife.
Spot 1. Snapshot 09.06.2017 Development of slope processes.
Spot 1. Snapshot 07.10.2018 Development of slope processes.
Spot 1. Snapshot 01.10.2019 Development of slope processes.
Spot 2. Snapshot 07.10.2018 Development of slope processes.
Spot 2. Snapshot 01.10.2019 Development of slope processes.
(с) WWF-Russia

What did WWF do?

In October, 2020 WWF-Russia appealed to the Sochi National Park and the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources (FSSNR) with a request to give an official answer about whether the Environmental Impact Assessment was carried out before the construction of the road. The FSSNR confirmed that this site had not passed the Impact Assessment. At the same time, the Sochi National Park explained that Rosa Khutor LLC carried out construction work on this object as a temporary forest road in accordance with the forest development project, which received a positive conclusion of the state expertise. According to the analysis of satellite images, two KAMAZ trucks can easily drive in opposite lanes on this "temporary" road.

What did the Prosecution Office say?

December 29, 2020 WWF-Russia sent a letter to the Prosecutor General's Office, in which it reported a violation of the law within the boundaries of the Sochi National Park. The appeal was forwarded to the Sochi Interdistrict Environmental Prosecutor's Office. On March 10, 2021, the supervisory authority confirmed that the project design documentation of the capital construction facility did not pass the Impact Assessment. However, at the same time, the Interdistrict Prosecutor's Office does not see any grounds for taking any measures of prosecutor's investigation.

"The development of infrastructure in specially protected areas of large-scale as we see in the Sochi National Park is unacceptable to be carried out on the sly, without public discussion and with law violations, - believes Dmitry Gorshkov, Director of WWF-Russia. - Unfortunately, we  frequently detect the implementation of infrastructure projects, for example, the construction of ski resorts under the guise of the idea of ecotourism development. Such an approach is unacceptable and leads to the loss of Russia's unique natural heritage."
(с) WWF-Russia
Rosa Khutor LLC, implementing the construction of a ski resort, positions itself on all public sites as an eco-friendly resort, which is not alien to the sustainable development of the territory. In fact, the ski resort implements large-scale infrastructure projects directly on federal protected areas, transforming the ecosystem. Even before the Sochi Olympics, environmentalists and environmental organizations warned about the high ecological significance of this territory – there are seasonal migration routes of forest hoofed animals and brown bears, and Colchis boxwood grew in the Mzymta valley.

What will happen next?

WWF-Russia believes that for cause of detected and confirmed violations, the road should be closed, and the sections through which it passes should be reclaimed. The damage caused to the environment as a result of violation of the law must be compensated in full.

In this regard, WWF-Russia is preparing an appeal to the Public Prosecution Office with a demand to go to court for the demolition of an illegal construction, as well as taking other measures of prosecutor's investigation.
(с) J. Naberezhnaya / WWF-Russia
For additional information please contact
Head of Caucasus Ecoregional Office