Sign the petition to the President of Russian Federation and Government about granting Utrish the status of federal reserve.



December 07, 2011    Arbitration Court of the Krasnodar Territory declared that the order of the regional Department of Natural Resources approving the state ecological expertise concerning the project of so-called «antifire» road leading to proposed construction site deep in the woods is illegal.

The initiator of the action — Environmental Watch on the Northern Caucasus.

Plans to build VIP-object is not removed, the threat remains, but the decision of the court is an important step to winning the struggle for the rescue of the reserve «Utrish.»

The volunteer ecology post of Ecological Movement «Save Utrish» continues its duty in the woods.

Utrish and all the people who stands on its defense,  need your support! Contact us: utrish2008@gmail.com

Wrecking Russia’s Wildlife:
The Khimki Forest, Utrish, Lake Baikal – whatever next?!

Despite the assurances to carry out ecological modernization made by Russia’s high authorities, the officials of all ranks – from the regional administration up to the bodies of the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation – persist in their intent to destroy the most valuable parts of Russia’s wildlife.

Khimki. Although there can be other ways, the Moscow-St Petersburg toll motorway is still to cut across the suburban Moscow woodland. The construction of the motorway destroying the integrity of the woodland provides an excuse for its further development, which will drastically deteriorate the living conditions of the Khimki district.

Utrish. According to the Government Executive Order No.1436p of September 2nd, 2010, on the establishment of the Utrish nature reserve, the most valuable coastal areas of the relict forest are to be set aside and got stripped of the status of regional nature reserve. This will allow for the implementation of the plans to construct therein an elite sports and recreational complex with a network of roads necessary for such construction. The unique landscapes get thereby doomed.

Lake Baikal. Pursuant to the Resolution No.1 issued by the Government of the Russian Federation on the 13th January 2010, the Baikal Pulp-and-Paper-Plant, the principal pollutant of Lake Baikal, was re-launched. The inspection testified that the plant dumps into the lake most harmful substances (including chlororganic compounds), which are not stipulated under the granted authorization. The worn-out equipment accounts for accidents and loss of life. Yet, the plant keeps functioning.

If we fail to defend the Khimki forest, Utrish and Lake Baikal today, tomorrow any valuable, or simply precious part of wildlife, can be sacrificed to the whim of an official or an oligarch.

The experience gained during the latest mass campaigns showed that the authorities could not wave aside the expression of the will of the people.

The Greenpeace of Russia, the Ecological Watch on the North Caucasus, the Save Utrish Movement, the Movement to Protect the Khimki Forest, the Baikal Movement, the Baikal Ecological Wave, the Social and Ecological Union, and Bellona hold a series of public actions to protect the Khimki Forest, Utrish and Lake Baikal in various towns of Russia.

To preserve the Khimki Forest, to consider alternatives for laying the motorway to bypass the Khimki Forest.

To scrap all plans to construct recreational facilities and infrastructure on the territory of Bolshoy Utrish nature reserve, to include in the nature reserve the coastal areas of pistache- and juniper-woodland which were set as the site for this construction.

To conduct an independent structural assessment of the Baikal Pulp-and-Paper-Plant and find an ecologically safe way to close it down while creating new job openings in the town of Baikalsk.

The common motto of the public actions:
“We stand for Utrish, Lake Baikal and the Khimki Forest! – We stand for our own wildlife!”

We urge you to join with us sometime between the 21st October and the 7th November and hold meetings, pickets, concerts, ‘green subbotniks’ and other public actions in defence of our wildlife and ecological rights of our citizens.

Every town or region can also – in the framework of this protest wave – put forward the most burning ecological problems.

Join with us, propose scenarios of actions. We are looking forward to your response

Greenpeace, Russia www.greenpeace.org/russia/ru mihail.kreindlin@greenpeace.org
Movement to protect the Khimki Forest www.ecmo.ru ecmoru@gmail.com
Save Utrish Movement www.save-utrish.ru    utrish2008@gmail.com
Ecological Watch on North Caucasus www.ewnc.org envwnc@gmail.com
Social and Ecological Union http://www.seu.ru sergey-simak@yandex.ru
Baikal Ecological Wave www.baikalwave.eu.org mrikhvanova@gmail.com
Baikal Movement discoverbaikal.ru/bd savebaikal@mail.ru
Bellona www.bellona.ru rybakov@mail.ru



An open address to the President of the Russian Federation

Dear Mr.President,

We stand for saving the gem of the Black Sea coast – Utrish, for establishing a nature reserve where the relict forest will be preserved in all its entirety, without any reservations.

We find the Government Decree of 2nd September 2010 No. 14-36-p erroneous and categorically unacceptable from both ecological and ethic viewpoints. The nature reserve established henceforth sets aside the most valuable coastal areas thereby depriving them of their special status of preferential protection. The elite sport and recreation center to be built there under the auspices of the Department for Presidential Affairs will subject these areas to VIP-transmission. The relict forest will be cut across by access roads, which will be ruinous for the fragile relict ecosystems.

The Convention on Conservation of Biological Diversity ratified by Russia obliges it to protect these unique Mediterranean ecosystems of international significance.

We beseech you to directly exercise the right of presidential veto. We beseech you to do your level best to ensure the reconsideration of the Bill and establish a true Utrish reserve.

Maria St. Ruzina, coordinator of the volunteer movement Save Utrish

Prof. A.V. Drozdov,   PhD, senior researcher at the Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences

http://www.save-utrish.ru/?p=724       utrish2008@gmail.com


To Mrs Mary McAleese, President of Ireland
Dear Madam,

Although our countries lie miles apart from each other, the peoples of Ireland and Russia share much in their traditions, they hold dear many common spiritual and cultural values. There is an old Irish adage which runs, “He who hurts a widow shall not live a decade; he who cuts a juniper will not last a year”. For the Russians and the Irish, junipers have long been sacred.
Now, the only juniper and pastiche forest stretching along the Black Sea coast is in danger.
Could you stretch a hand of succour?
Still pristine, the Utrish relict forest with its 60 species – both plants and animals – registered in the Red Book of the Russian Federation is situated in Krasnodar Region, not far from the Town of Anapa. The Government’s Resolution had stipulated that this area should be turned into a nature reserve by the year 2010, which never happened. Moreover, the local authorities of Krasnodar Region have been sparing no effort to lobby through another bill, according to which the heart of the coastal lands densely covered with juniper trees is to constitute a building site for a huge recreational complex reserved for the elect, the powers that be, while the rest of the land is to be cut through with a network of roads to facilitate the access. This will destroy the relic landscape and Utrish will be consigned to oblivion. The construction of a road, disguised as a fire-prevention action, was illegally had started in December 2008, and the relic trees were felled without mercy. The law-enforcing bodies turned a blind eye to that. So volunteers, those who care for Nature, started coming from all over Russia to form a live shield against the felling. They succeeded in stalling the construction, it was subsequently acknowledged illegal, yet the threat remained. Even the machinery, the withdrawal of which had been officially recognized last spring, is still in place in Sukko, the settlement adjacent to Utrish; and it will take less than an hour to have it moved to the construction site. To prevent this, 14 months ago, enthusiasts set up an ecological station at the site of illegal works, in the forest by the mountain pass. They come and go – people from all walks of life, of all ages and professions – biologists and journalists and students: all those who care – they come and stay as long as they can, making do with tents and other temporary affairs.
Over 40 towns in Russia, Ukraine, Byelorussia, and even Germany stood up to hold meeting and demonstrations to save Utrish; scientists, nature protection organizations – Greenpeace, the WWF, the North Caucasus Ecological Watch, Save Utrish – addressed all government agencies with petitions to resolve the situation. Over 20,000 addresses to the President of Russia to take measures to save the relict forest, to establish a full-fledged nature reserve have been in vain; the video addresses from the towns
(http://www.save-utrish.ru/docs/public_appeals_of_cities) and appeals from children
(http://www.save-utrish.ru/2010/03/11/deti_za_utrish/) also fell flat. And, according to the officials of Krasnodar Region, the documents legalizing the construction are about to come in force.
We are writing to you from the “headquarters’ tent” pitched up on the spur of the Navagir ridge, where our ecological station has been lodged to guard the relict forest and the Russia rule of law. We appeal to you, Mrs President, to help us save the Utrish wild-life reserve, a genuine reserve of juniper and pastiche trees, which is valuable not only for Russia but for the whole planet of Earth – it is our common wealth.

Maria Ruzina, coordinator of the volunteer movement Save Utrish, widow and mother of three sons
Andrei Vinogradov, Ph.D, senior researcher of the Asov Fisheries Research Institute
Victor Sozdanin, meteorologist
Peter Ruzin, student
Artem Tursunov, musician 




On the 1st December the town of Anapa, on the 2nd the town of Novorossiysk witnessed an ‘open’ hearing on the project of nature reserve to start massive constructions on the territory of the relict forest.
The scenario was simple — two hours prior to the beginning of the hearings the hall started filling with officials delegated by the city autorities. Ecologists, scientists, public representatives were barred entrance. Security guards held the ground, forcibly blocking the way to everyone, women included.
Seven towns of Russia — Anapa, Krasnodar, Moscow, St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Maikop, and Apatity — held actions to protect Utrish.

The Ministry of Natural Reserves and Ecology deemed and duly promulgated the hearings successful.

Those who can hear us — HELP!

God save Utrish!


In the framework of the December wave of  «Save Utrish, Russia’s heritage» actions, towns of Russia and the Ukraine made a video appeal to the Russian President Medvedev, Russian and foreign mass media, as well as to all people of good will.http://www.save-utrish.ru/docs/public_appeals_of_cities

A Gift for Some, a Kick for Others?

3rd December 2009
On 1st December, Anapa witnessed public hearings on ecologic and economic rationale for substantiating the Utrish nature reserve. One might well think that a nature reserve were a good cause. So nobody had expected problems: scientists, experts, designers, citizens spoke for it, which was duly recorded. Bodies of local administrations addressed their recommendations to the commission for further consideration. Yet this simple and lawful development never came to pass. The reasons were simple.
In spite of the scientifically substantiated boundaries set for the reserve, the officials from the Ministry of Natural Resources and from regional departments ruled, contrary to the considerations proposed by scientists, to allot part of the land for a construction of a recreational and health centre under the auspices of the DAR (Gift) Foundation of Levit Ltd, backed by the oligarch Leonid Mikhelson. A year ago, work on the construction of the road leading to the spot started. Bulldozers, in violation of all existing laws, trampled down old juniper trees registered in the Red Data Book. The public, relying on the help of the public prosecution, managed to stop the mayhem. The only way to legalize the construction works was to hold public hearings where citizens and public authorities would approve of the project. Yet, with so many people opposed to such a development, the authorities decided – just to be on the safe side – to forestall the outcome by barring entrance to those who were against the construction of the road and the elite sports complex to be build on the territory of the would-be reserve. Judging from what happened in Anapa on 1st December, much effort and many means had been spared to simulate the public hearing.

Hearings, allegedly public and allegedly open
The public hearings were scheduled to start in Anapa in the Rodina Complex at 4 p.m.; at 2 p.m. on Theatre Square, activists-ecologists were to hold an officially authorized picket in defence of the integrity of the reserve. Yet by this time, the main town square was the buzz of activity: the New Year Tree was being erected. The square was fenced; inside was a vehicle producing deafening noise while washing the pavement. The workman spent a good hour on scrubbing one and the same spot.
At 2 p.m., in the assembly hall of the Rodina Complex, the town administration started a meeting devoted to the matters related to the upcoming New Year celebrations. This meeting smoothly transferred into public hearings. Nobody had left the hall. Those who came to the hearings were duly registered, led through an X-ray machine in the lobby, yet never admitted further.
Two entrances were guarded by plain-clothed officials. Their looks and expressions they wore left no doubt about their profession of undercover men. There were also policemen in uniform and in plain clothes. Anapa is a small town, and the city dwellers know their police.
Among those who were barred from entering the hall were representatives of ecological organizations from Moscow, Novorossiysk, Krasnodar, the ecological public of Anapa, dwellers from Bolshoi Utrish, journalists, expert foresters, academic people.
Olga Alexandrovna Leontieva, Ph.D. in biology, senior researcher at the biogeography section, department of geography, Moscow State University, was at a loss – she had taken part in preparing the materials for the nature reserve and had come to Anapa from Moscow with a single aim to defend the plot of land meant to be cut off for the construction of the elite complex. It is here that rarest reptiles can be found, the species that have survived since the preglacial age. But the Moscow university academic was never allowed in.

A kick to the constitutional rights
I tried to enter the hall by showing the guards my synopsis. I had been asked to submit the synopsis earlier to an official from the education department of Anapa. I had stated my views and handed them over at the reception of the Head of Department. Certain that there was a mistake, I mentioned my name to the men blocking the way and asked them to check it against the list of speakers. It did not work, either. Then there came journalists armed with cameras, and I tried to sneak into together with them. No chance – the guards sandwiched me brutally, and one of them kicked me with his knee, mistaking me for a man, probably, or out of habit; and though it was not that painful, I did buckle. I also lost an earring in the skirmish, which I never found again. It did hurt and I was humiliated. For the State to set a mighty bully against a fifty-year old woman, mother of two children, scientist with a Ph.D., university professor, and representative of Russia at international ecological forums is a disgrace. With a sole purpose of preventing her from telling the audience that it was unthinkable to built a sports-and-health centre in the heart of a nature reserve and cut the territory with three roads. Under such conditions the very idea of starting a reserve is futile. The reserve cannot exist without its coastal part. Because it is the water that sustains the biodiversity of Utrish. It is only but natural – life is sustained by water. If one follows the recommendations provided by scientists, the best parts of the coast will be the habitat for turtles and other reptiles registered in the Red Data Book, for boars and roes, and not for the Russian elites, who keep on whining on TV about the impact of the economic crisis on their financial state. Yet they find the means to build sports facilities to add to their health improvement. Of course, the heart of the reserve might make a fine place for the elite recreation. No ordinary citizens would find their way here; no Greenpeace would ever bother them with inspections. Hunting would be perfect here. It is well-known how the elite like helicopter-hunting in nature reserves. There are the statistics.

Crisis or no crisis, there is always money if need be
On the previous day, my friends called me to say that officials from the Departments of Trade and Health had been ringing up shops and pharmacies located near the Rodina Complex urging them to keep their shops closed on the following day, for Greenpeace workers were expected to arrive and smash their windows.
A former student of mine told me that the disputed coastal territory beyond the waterfall was strewn with syringes which somebody had brought by the sack. This was to show the commission that came from Krasnodar that this relict forest had become a haven for drug addicts. Activists from the Save Utrish movement had collected and removed the evidence. Who and whose money stood behind this show? Can it have been the money of taxpayers?
The new Kuban television channel did its best to cover the public hearings on the nature reserve. The officials stated that all pseudo-ecologists – loud-voiced hooligans – were not permitted inside. While all the law-abiding citizens were very welcome. The officials must have meant themselves.
Here is the civil society for you. It consists of the predatory oligarchic elite and their bureaucratic lackeys. They nominate themselves and they elect themselves. They run all the national wealth, and natural resources. They possess riches and power beyond measure. While I, who wanted to have a say as is my constitutional right, got nothing better than a fine kick.
Well, Russia, have you set out on another round of dictatorship, fear, prohibitions, and allegations? Is their any way out? Television screens scream with lies. And our lot is to keep quiet and obedient. How much have our people sacrificed for the future of our children to protect them from falling into slavery… Is it all to no avail? Slavery is already knocking at our doors.

Svetlana Pan’kova, Ph.D.

2009-11-16 First answers from famous foreign scientists 

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, The Eastern Alpine and Dinaric Association for Vegetation Science strongly supports the appeal for the conservation of Utrish forest in NW Caucasus, an unique ecosystem of great significance for the Mediterranean biogeography.Salzburg, 15.11.2009The president: Prof. Paul HeiselmayerThe general secretary: Dr. Christian Eichberger


Eastern Alpine and Dinaric Association for Vegetation Science

c/o Prof. Paul Heiselmayer, Dr. Christian Eichberger Department of Organismic Biology

Work Group Ecology and Diversity of Plants

University of Salzburg

Hellbrunnerstr. 34

A-5020 Salzburg




I strongly support the appeal for the conservation of the Utrish forest as a biotope of Mediterranean value

prof. Sandro Pignatti, Hon. President of the East-Alpine-Dinaric association for Vegetation Science.


29 October 2009 

Urgent! An appeal to the UNEP, nature conservation organizations, scientists, journalists, and all those who are willing and able to help
The Utrish old-growth forest is in peril!

In November 2008, with the utter connivance on the part of the local authorities, work began on the felling and construction of the road to cut through the Utrish juniper-and-pistache forest stretching along the Black Sea coast near Anapa, Krasnodar Region, Russia.

People from many Russian towns came to the spot to form a live barrier to the trailbuilders. They succeeded in stalling the construction works.

Many Russian cities have held actions to protect Utrish. Over 16,000 hard and electronic appeals made by citizens of Russia and other countries have already been sent to the President of the Russian Federation.

Persistent appeals made by nature conservation organizations to the authorities compelled the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian Federation to deem the construction illegal and confirmed the resolution to create a reserve in this area.

Yet, the construction machinery is still in place. The court trial in an action for the Ecological Watch Northern Caucasus started several months ago is still dragging on. On September 29th 2009, the Krasnodar Region Court of Arbitration disallowed the claim. An appeal against the opinion of the court has been made.

Since January 2009 volunteers have kept watch on the construction site.

On October 16th 2009, the WWF and the Russian Greenpeace addressed Dmitry Kozak, deputy chairman of the government of the Russian Federation, with a joint appeal, which, among other things, said, “… notwithstanding the Utrish Reserve Project, commissioned to the WWF by the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation, which was specifically designed to protect most valuable old-growth juniper and pistache trees, the Krasnodar Administration refuses to extend the reserve to encompass this territory. Moreover, the territory of the intended reserve is to be turned into a site featuring a complex of the Presidential Administration Department and the relevant infrastructure”.

According to the latest report from the ecological picket station at Utrish, another gang of workmen has arrived to check and tune up the machinery.

Help us to preserve Utrish!

We are asking all international nature conservation organizations and scientists to appeal to the Russian President urging him to protect Utrish. We are asking journalists to come up with a broad coverage of the situation in the international press. We appeal to all volunteers from international public organizations stationed in Russia – maybe, you can make it to Utrish to support the ecological Forest Watch together with other Russian citizens.

“Russia is responsible for this spot to the whole world”. (Oleg Tsaruk, head of regional department WWF “Russian Caucasus”, December 2008)

The All-Russian Voluntary Movement «Save Utrish»  http://www.save-utrish.ru  http://www.save-utrish.ru/english
utrish2008@gmail.com   savejuniper@gmail.com
The Ecological Watch Northern Caucasus http://www.ewnc.org   envwnc@gmail.com


Since December 2008 large-scale felling of Red-Book-relic trees has been in progress in Bolshoy Utrish, Krasnodar Region to build a road to facilitate future constructions. Although the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian Federation expressly ruled this construction illegal and promised to grant a status of a federal wildlife reserve to Utrish, nothing came to pass. We are asking you to stretch a hand of succour to those already engaged — Greenpeace, WWF, the All-Russian Voluntary Movement «Save Utrish», the Ecological Watch of the North Caucasus and a non-violence resistance group of activists from many Russian towns who are camping on the spot to oppose illegal constructions works.
You can also read some news articles in English here.

Russia Today   2009, January 08 video  Wild forest in danger

Watch the video

The public appeal of  voluntary movement “Save Utrish”

In Utrish reserve, in a temporary camp people from different regions of Russia has written this public appeal. There are about 30 signs below it, but signing it up continues.

We have come to Utrish from different cities to stop the destruction of the relic forest which is the patrimony of Russia and the whole planet Earth.

We explain to the workers involved in construction their role in criminal plans of their bosses and ask them to stop work. We take pictures of the forest logging, destruction and damage of trees listed in The Red Book, geodesic holes, equipment brought and we are ready to share all the information we have.

We are ready to organize a picket line, ready to participate in any legitimate protest form.

We appeal to the Russian and international environmental organizations, journalists of any rank, all people who care to help Utrish.

They are criminals who destroy the wild nature of reserve “Bolshoi Utrish”. If you will remain silent and step aside, next they will come to your house.

SOS!!! Cutting down continues!

30 December, 2008
The trees on Bolshoi Utrish are being cut down for three last days. Witnesses say that junipers are being cut and uprooted. That happens despite the ban issued by Environmental Prosecutor’s Office on 19 December. Construction machinery that was sealed and subsequently removed has now returned back. Law Enforcement authorities does not help much. Police squad that has departed to the place yesterday from Anapa has reported they were unable to reach the place because of the bad roads condition.

Logging Called Threat to Krasnodar Reserve

The Moscow Times.  http://www.moscowtimes.ru/article/600/42/373357.htm

23 December 2008 By Maria Antonova / Staff Writer

Krasnodar regional authorities are turning a blind eye to a massive, illegal logging project in a nature reserve on the Black Sea, local environmentalists say, in what could be an attempt to open the protected area to commercial tourism.

A local forestry official confirmed that logging was being done in the park, but denied that the project violated federal or local environmental protections.

Officially, the project is a four-kilometer fire safety road bisecting the Bolshoi Utrish reserve, connecting an existing road on its border with the Black Sea. But officials admitted that the road would be used for recreational development of the coast, and environmentalists said the construction would irrevocably damage the park, which is on track to receive the federal government’s most protected status.

Converting pristine areas along the Black Sea into resorts has been a lucrative business for the Russian construction industry, particularly since investors started flocking to the region after Sochi was chosen to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The Bolshoi Utrish reserve is located about 250 kilometers up the coast from Sochi and just 15 kilometers south of the resort city Anapa.

Loggers have already cut into the park from both sides by more than a kilometer, chopping down thousands of trees that are in the Red Book of endangered species, said Andrei Rudomakha, coordinator of the North Caucasus Environmental Watch, an organization based in Maikop, the capital of the neighboring Adygeya republic.

The dry, subtropical forest in the reserve is unique in Russia and is the northernmost such forest in the world, environmentalists said.

«Judging by the impudence and the scale of work, some big interests are involved in this project,» Rudomakha said. «Everything about this construction is illegal from start to finish, and nobody is doing anything to stop it.»

Activists’ Efforts

Bolshoi Utrish is a zakaznik, a protected park where some recreational use, such as camping, is permitted. Under a 2001 government decree, the park is supposed to become a zapovednik by 2010, making it federally protected with strict regulations on any human activity.

And although the park remains protected on paper, the zakaznik administration was dispersed in the late 1990s because of a lack of funding. It is now managed by the regional branch of the Federal Forestry Agency, which ordered the road’s construction.

According to federal law, any logging activity in a protected area has to undergo a state environmental assessment, which includes public hearings and a calculation of environmental damage, said Mikhail Kreindlin, an expert for Greenpeace in Russia. Another federal law prohibits the destruction of endangered species, and regional authorities themselves prohibited any road construction in this park in 1994, he said.

Official Response

Alexander Byuller, a deputy head of the Krasnodar region forestry agency, confirmed by phone that the 8-meter-wide road was being built for the agency’s «internal use.»

«The purpose of the clearings is building a fire safety road,» Byuller said. He said the felling of endangered species of trees was not prohibited for such purpose, and he denied that the work was illegal because it was cleared by the regional department of emergency situations and state environmental control.

For MT

The State Duma blocked an inquiry.

But when asked whether the road would be used solely for fire safety, Byuller said it would «also give access to the coast, where the forestry is already offering plots of land for recreational use.»

Earlier this year, someone already won the right to rent 100 hectares on the coast in an auction, he said. «I don’t know what will be there, nobody showed me the project,» he said.

Although the park’s status permits recreational use, clear cutting is prohibited and only temporary structures can be put up. Difficult access to the park’s interior has so far ruled out mass tourism, although it attracts campers, some of whom live in the park year-round.

Byuller said the road would help spread tourism more evenly across the coast and make the region «more like Europe,» where protected areas have good road networks and facilities.

«These Rudomakhas should be forced to work for the state and pay taxes,» instead of «being financed from abroad to chain themselves to things,» he said. «He should take a chainsaw and go chop some wood for socially unprotected babushkas.»

He also expressed little concern for the tourists already enjoying the park, calling them «nudists on the wild beach.»

Environmentalists say they are stunned that the regional department of the Federal Inspection Service for Natural Resources Use — the environmental watchdog of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry — is allowing the works to continue.

North Caucasus Environmental Watch has sent the watchdog, which is responsible for protecting endangered species, repeated requests to look into the issue, Rudomakha said.

Natalya Maltseva, the deputy head of Krasnodar region’s branch of the watchdog, declined to comment for this story and advised calling the press department of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry. The ministry’s press service said they had no information on the situation.

Rudomakha’s group has also sent letters to Yevgeny Golovachyov, the nature protection prosecutor for the Azov and Black Sea district, asking him to look into the logging.

Golovachyov also declined to comment before receiving official permission from the Krasnodar regional prosecutor. A faxed request sent Wednesday to the regional prosecutor went unanswered.

Tourist Petition

Russians who regularly spend summers in Bolshoi Utrish have written a petition to President Dmitry Medvedev that was signed by more than 4,600 people from Moscow and other cities, said Maria Alyokhina, a Muscovite who is one of the petition organizers. The signatures were taken to the presidential administration on Monday, and a sanctioned rally is to take place Tuesday at 2 p.m. near the Krasnopresnenskaya metro station.

«We are appalled that they are cutting trees in what we consider our second home,» said Alyokhina, adding that rumors were circulating that the site would be completely closed to the public to create a new government dacha. Alyokhina estimated that about 1,000 people camp in Utrish every summer.

Campers at the park confirmed that construction work deep in the heart of the reserve was in full swing. «Clear cutting is still being done by three logging teams close to the coast, and there is also a team of land surveyors who are using drilling equipment,» Nikolai Linnik, who is one of 15 people currently living in the reserve, said by phone last week.

Linnik said a «campaign is under way since this summer to discredit Utrish and its dwellers,» which has included «provocations» by unknown men and local police, who subsequently jailed some campers for up to five days for assault of an officer. He also said drug control officials from Anapa had planted marijuana in one of the camper’s trailers.

Some people live in the reserve for years at a time, Linnik said. «We are the only ones who survey it and take out the trash,» he said.

Outcome in Doubt

The fate of Bolshoi Utrish and other protected parks remains an open question as major commercial interests — particularly logging and tourism — make the country’s environment laws difficult to enforce and profitable to flout.

The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said in May that the reserve was still on track to receive the strictly protected zapovednik status.

On Dec. 10, State Duma Deputy Sergei Obukhov, a Communist from the Krasnodar region, called for an inquiry into the government over the allegedly illegal logging, but the pro-Kremlin party United Russia, which has an overwhelming majority in the Duma, blocked the inquiry.

Obukhov has since written five personal inquiries regarding the reserve to various officials, including Krasnodar Governor Alexander Tkachyov, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Yury Trutnev, and Vladimir Kirillov, head of the ministry’s environmental watchdog. Given Obukhov’s status as a deputy, such inquiries must be acted on and responded to within 30 days.

«An official request from the Duma to the government would be processed much faster and would not be waved off,» Obukhov said in a phone interview. «But the deputies decided against it.»

«This is a regular occurrence,» Obukhov said. «When big money comes into the picture, nature falls silent and nobody cares about the environment.»


Public appeal

Here we stand with a desperate appeal.

The felling of juniper and pistache trees is underway in Bolshoy Utrish wildlife sanctuary at the Black Sea coast in Krasnodarsky Krai. They are felling trees and laying out a road.Works started at the beginning of December have been carried out nonstop round the clock,

resulting in vast spaces of clear-cuts.Notwithstanding hundreds of letters and appeals addressed by individuals and ecological organizations to local authorities and the government, there has been no response.

We urge you to make this matter public and stop the destruction of natural habitats which are the heritage not only of Russia but also of the world community.

Photographs and information can be found at http://www.save-utrish.ru/category/news

St Petersburg Charity Foundation “Children of the City”

Murmansk Regional Youth Public Environmental Organization “Priroda I Molodezh” (Nature and Youth)

(contact  utrish2008@gmail.com  )

http://www.ewnc.org/?q=node/1922  (Rus)

Ecological watch of the North Caucasus
Information distribution
The 10th of December, 2008

The statement of social ecological organizations concerning the emergency situation with the construction of a road on the territory of the wildlife area “Bolshoi Utrish

Our organizations are extremely worried about the emergency situation in the wildlife area “Bolshoi Utrish” located in the area of the resort town Anapa. These days a motor road “Sukko-Utrish” is being built there. There is an intention to make much of the road right on the territory of Bolshoi Utrish. As a result of the construction works, several thousands of trees were cut out, natural landscapes were damaged on the considerable part of the area. These activities damage the nature of this especially protected area very much.

Unique natural complexes of Mediterranean type subtropical forests which are inhabited by many rare and protected plants and animals included into the Red book and the Red list of the International Union of the Nature protection were preserved in the “Bolshoi Utrish”. Here the only inviolate forest track of such forests in Russia is situated.

The safety of this area is an issue of not only national but also international importance. For 30 years already the idea of  making a natural reserve here has been relevant. It is confirmed by 2 instructions of the RF government – № 572 from  the 23rd of April, 1994 and №725 from the 23rd of May, 2001. According to the last instructions the natural reserve “Utrish” should be established not later than in 2010. Ecological and economic grounds for its creation were collected. The road construction contradicts the RF government plans as in case the road is built further, it will be impossible to establish the reserve.

Besides the fact that unique nature complexes, considered to be world’s treasures and Russia’s pride, are damaged, our organizations are outraged by the fact that the construction works are illegal, they damage the wildlife area and no positive conclusion of the state ecological expertise was received.

The ecological watch of the North Caucasus, the WWF of Russia, The Greenpeace of Russia and the International social and ecological union appeal to the state agencies and, first of all, the administration of the Krasnodarskii region, that is in charge of the wildlife area, to take prompt action to stop the  motor road  “Sukko-Utrish” construction. We appeal to the Ministry for natural resources and ecology of the RF that should work more intensively on the natural reserve “Utrish” establishment.

Ecological watch of the North Caucasus

WWF of Russia
Greenpeace of Russia
International social and ecological union

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

Many people all around Russia became extremely anxious about the situation in the sanctuary ‘Bolshoy Utrish’, which is located on the territory of the city-resort Anapa, Krasnodarsky Krai. There started a construction of a highway, the most part of which is supposed to go through the territory of the sanctuary and сonnect two towns Sukko and Utrish. Several thousands of trees were cut down as a result of the construction. The natural landscape was destroyed. Those activities cause an irreplaceable damage to a natural complex on such a protected natural territory. There have remained unique natural complexes of subtropical woods of the Mediterranean type in the sanctuary ‘Bolshoy Utrish’. Those woods are inhabited by many rare and protected kinds of plants and animals, included in The Red Book and The red list of the International Union of Wildlife management. This is the only one forest tract of that kind on the territory of Russian Federation which was not destroyed. This is a place where you can meet: butcher’s-broom, pistacia mutica F. et. M., Juniperus foetidissima Willd,Elaphe longissima (Laurenti, 1768),Testudo graeca Nikolskii and others. A lot of those trees were cut down during last few days.

The protection of this territory has the international significance.

It has been more then 30 years since they started talking about the creation of the sanctuary. This was consolidated by two decrees by the government of Russian Federation- №572-р from 23.04.1994 and №725-р from 23.05.2001. According to the last one decree there should be created the sanctuary on this territory by 2010. There was prepared an ekologo-economic substantiation of the necessity of creation of the sanctuary. The building of the road conflicts with these plans of the governments of Russian Federation. If the road is constructed, there will be impossible to create the sanctuary.

Works started at the beginning of December and have been carried out nonstop round the clock, resulting in vast spaces of clear-cuts. There was created a cutting which is already longer then 1 km. Notwithstanding hundreds of letters and appeals addressed by individuals and ecological organizations to local authorities and the government, there has been no response. Since the government does not respond, and there is a danger of the whole area being used for the elite building, we urge you to make this matter public and stop the destruction of natural habitats which are the heritage not only of Russia but also of the world community.

Ekaterina Pavlushchenko.


Caper on the Black Sea coast

February 11, 2008

Russian Federation — The Russian Federation — January, 29th, 2008 scientists and representatives of the public ecological organisations have addressed to the President, the Government, the General Public prosecutor of the Russian Federation, to the Governor of Krasnodar territory with the requirement to stop immediately the destruction of the unique natural complex of the «Bolshoi Utrish» Game Preserve located near the Anapa Resort in Krasnodarsky krai.

The Preserve formed in 1986, is an unique space of the almost untouched relic juniper woods at the Black Sea coast. Here are three kinds of arbuscular junipers, a lot of endemic plants, about 60 kinds of plants and animals brought in the Red book. In view of value of this territory under the order of the Government of the Russian Federation from May, 23rd, 2001 N 725-r till 2010 the State Natural Reserve «Utrish» here should be formed.

Attempts of capture of this territory by different private structures became frequent last two years. Cases of poaching and illegal cuttings down became frequent too.

On November, 22-23rd, 2007 in the territory of the reserve near the lake Zmeinoe the significant space of juniper pistache-woodland was cut down and cleared away for construction of the road. It was found out, that on October, 21st 2007 this space was transferred by the order of the head of administration of Anapa in rent for 5 years to OC «Rosinvest», which admitted the roughest infringements of the nature protection legislation.

“Unfortunately, the check did not make necessary legal actions for an establishment of the size of the harm put to natural complexes and it did not help to attract guilty persons to responsibility, — Mikhail Kreindlin, the head of the protected natural territories project, said, — Most likely it means, that the local authorities are interested in site development of the unique territory, and they interfered objective check in every possible way”.

The Greenpeace organization of Russian Federation supports the reference of experts and NGOs and we hope that the federal authorities will take necessary measures for preservation of the unique nature complex of the «Bolshoi Utrish» Game Preserve, and will involve guilty in responsibility.

An Open Letter


Mr V.V. Putin, President of the Russian Federation

Mr D.A. Medvedev, First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation

Mr A.D. Zhukov, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation

Mr U.P. Trutnev, Minister of Natural resources of the Russian Federation

Mr U.Ya. Chaika, Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation

Mr L.G. Korzhinek, Prosecutor, Krasnodarsky Krai

Mr A.N. Tkachev, Head of Administration of Krasnodarsky Krai

Mr .N. Pakhomov, Head of Administration, resort town of Anapa

Dear Sirs,

Aren’t you fond of the Black Sea?
You surely are.
Isn’t it the thing from childhood — yours and ours?
It is also our future and that of our children.
That is why we appeal to each and every of you – it is of vital importance to spare the Bolshoy Utrish Nature Preserve. The immediate address may pave the way to the development of the whole Black Sea coast of Russia.

The 12.5 km stretch of the sanctuary established in 1986 lies between the settlements of Maly and Bolshoy Utrish. It is the only area of all but virgin relict juniper forest on the Black Sea coast (three species of evergreen juniper trees, lots of endemic plants and animals that are registered in the Red Data Book). Owing to its specific value and in accordance with the Direction issued by the Russian Government on 23rd May 2001 (No. 725-p), there shall be established a state nature reserve “Utrish”. The would-be nature reserve and hitherto preserved sanctuary will not only protect the wildlife of this still virginal stretch of the Black Sea coast, but also contribute to the sustainability of the environment along the whole of the seaside between Anapa and Novorossiysk.

Several years ago the directorate of the Nature Preserve was broken up, in 2007 the Anapa urban forestry followed suit. Yet, with the Nature Preserve still enjoying its official status, various private entities kept making attempts to encroach on its territory during the recent two years. Instances of poaching have become more and more frequent. Private entrepreneurs felled both dead and live relict juniper trees in the coastal part of the Nature Preserve. Felling has gained momentum.

On the 22nd -23rd November 2007, a large spot of juniper and pistachio tree forest nearby Zmeinoye Lake was cleared to make room for construction of a motorway. This immediately brought along several appeals to RosPrirodNadzor (Russian nature protection inspectorate) and the Office of Public Prosecutor in Krasnodarsky Krai made by public organizations, citizens of Anapa, followed by extensive coverage in the press.

Chernomorsk inter-regional group at the Directorate of RosPrirodNadzor in Krasnodarsky Krai together with a representative of Anapa inter-regional prosecution and a representative of the Ecological Watch-Over in the Northern Caucasus responded with an inspection to check whether the nature protection laws had been observed prior the felling. It turned out that on 21st October 2007, a month before the clearing of the forest, this spot of land had been leased by Head of Administration of the resort town of Anapa to RosInvest Co. Ltd for 5 years, the latter having grossly violated the nature preservation legislation. The situation grows beyond a particular instance, which is a very alarming matter.

At present, with the run-up for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games, establishment of a special economic zone of tourist-recreational type in Karasnodarsky Krai, blueprints for the development of transport infrastructure on the coast, other projects and measures for its development, many coastal territories are undergoing a change in official status. All these undertakings have not become systemic yet. Fears are quick to emerge lest part of the Bolshoy Utrish Nature Reserve should be alienated; moreover, other ecologically valuable territories might suffer as well.

We would appreciate it very much if all-out measures should be taken to preserve the unique sanctuary, its structure and its staff be restored and the Direction issued by the Government of the Russian Federation (N 725-p) on the establishment of a state nature reserve should be implemented by the set target date.

We would also like to suggest that the Russian Government, Krasnodarsky Krai Administration and its municipal entities should join their efforts – together with groups of experts and eminent specialists engaged in ecological territorial planning, nature protection, recreational planning, addressing ecological, economic and social problems, and in concert with general public – to openly discuss the problems of the whole Black Sea coast and work out an ecological and socially responsible strategy of its development. We are determined to make every possible effort to achieve this aim and we hope that the addressees will respond with similar initiatives.

We would appreciate it very much if you send your answers to all the electronic addresses listed below.

Prof. A.V. Drozdov, PhD, senior researcher at the Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences;

V.P. Chizhova, PhD, senior researcher at the Department of Geography, Moscow State University;

Prof. V.V. Akatov, PhD, head of the Ecology and Nature Reserve section at Maykop state technological university;

T.V. Akayova, PhD, senior researcher at Caucasian state nature biosphere reserve;

M.S. Ruzina, Programme Director, St Petersburg Charity Foundation “Deti Goroda” (Children of the City); since 1994 contributing to the cause of the Nature Reserve;

S.V. Yermolaev, head of Krasnodar regional nature protection public organization “Utrish”;

V.V. Mitrofanenko, plenipotentiary at the Russian charity foundation “No to alcoholism and drug addiction”, docent at Sociology and Social Work section at North-Caucasian state technological university;

A.V. Rudomakha, coordinator at the Ecological Watch Northern Caucasus.

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