Gazprom to expand Krasnaya Polyana resorts - sacrificing Nature Reserve
The company is planning to create 4 new resorts in Caucasus Nature Reserve with strict anti-building rules.
Gazprom has prepared a major expansion project for its affiliated resorts in Krasnaya Polyana. This will be affected, among other things, through taking the lands of Caucasian Biosphere Reserve, Kommersant wrote.
Presentation called Gazprom Mountain-Tourist Centre: Development Concepts revealed the company’s intentions to double the tourist flow. According to the concept, 4 new resorts will be built near Pseashkho mountain massif, which is located in the central part of the Caucasian Biosphere Reserve. We should point out that any construction there is strictly prohibited right now. It did not prevent Gazprom from having the project ready though. 83 km of cable cars, 250 km of ski slopes as well as 14 restaurants and 4 mountain hotels are going to be built near Tabunnaya and Aishho mountains, Bzerpi peak, Pseashkho ridge and Holodny glacier. The project authors believe that the new resorts in the reserve will increase the number of tourists from 25,000 to 40,000 people per day.
Meanwhile, Mikhail Kreindlin, who is an expert on environmental legislation from Greenpeace Russia, highlighted that if everything above-mentioned is actually built, “the reserve will virtually cease to exist as a coherent specially protected natural area". Besides, Mr. Kreindlin said that it will negate all the plans to reintroduce the Persian leopard in the Caucasus, as the Gazprom constructions are going to take the habitat of leopards. As our readers may know, Sergey Ivanov, Russian President’s environmental and transportation representative, is the one responsible for leopard restoration. First Sochi leopards were released to their natural habitat this July.
We should remind that in June 2016, the State Duma adopted amendments to the law On Specially Protected Natural Areas, which allowed creating biosphere polygons that are areas where capital development is permitted. WWF Russia stated that the amendments make building hotels or ski resorts in reserves legal.
Earlier, Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus launched a campaign against land-grabbing in Sochi National Park and Caucasus Nature Reserve near Krasnaya Polyana, attempted by major travel companies and ski resorts.
Today, on December 15, Gazprom’s plans will be reviewed in the analytical center of the Russian Government, where environmentalists, Rosa Khutor representatives and Ministry of Natural Resources spokespersons will give their stance on the matter.