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Премия рунета 2017
Battle for the Caucasus
Is the world heritage under threat?

The «Western Caucasus» site has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999. The major part of the territory of the site is occupied by the Caucasus Nature State Reserve, the «Bolshoi T’hatch» Natural Park, nature monuments «Mountain Ridge Buynyi», «Upper River Tsitsa» and «Upper River Pshekha and Pshekhashkha».

In preparation for the Olympic Games in Sochi, the status of Sochi Wildlife Sanctuary and part of Sochi National Park was to be upgraded and included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site «Western Caucasus» as a compensation for the damage caused to nature. However, at the end of 2015 the Russian government has «changed its mind," and instead of upgrading the status of the territory has been lowered. Now these previously protected lands, adjacent to the Caucasus Nature Reserve, can be built up. Lowering the status of this valuable region can lead to its uncontrolled development.

In March 2017, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had already ordered the transfer of part of the territory of Sochi Wildlife Sanctuary and Sochi National Park to companies associated with «Rosa Khutor» ski resort. 13 allocated land plots, with a total area of just over 392 hectares (the «Mzymta» site), are directly adjacent to the UNESCO World Heritage site «Western Caucasus». UNESCO’s 2008 and 2016 missions have noted that construction in the immediate vicinity of the World Heritage «Western Caucasus» site puts it at risk.

If the protected natural areas are handed over for construction, we can lose the largest stand of untouched mountain forests in Europe, and the program for the reintroduction of Central Asian leopards will become meaningless: the sports facilities will close the only corridor for expansion of predators to other regions of the Caucasus.

How we are losing the «Western Caucasus»:
chronology
Caucasus
The Programme for Persian
Leopard Reintroduction
Igor Chestin about
Persian leopard