Vladimir Potanin and Alexey Miller destroy the nature of the North Caucasus

The ski resort Rosa Khutor and the Mountain Tourism Center of Gazprom can deprive of access to drinking water more than 100 thousand people around Sochi.
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The area of ​​the man-changed territories on the site, which includes the Sochi National Park, clusters of the Sochi Reserve and the Caucasian Reserve (Krasnaya Polyana district), has increased almost threefold over the period from 2006 to 2017. Incorporated changes include deforestation, the laying of new ones or the expansion of existing roads, the erection of capital construction projects, and so on.

A sharp jump in the transformation of the landscape of these territories in the period from 2006 to 2014 is associated with the construction of facilities and infrastructure to ensure the holding of the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. However, after the Olympics, the development of the territory continues. Appetites of the ski resort "Rosa Khutor" and "Gazprom" are growing and partially met. In March 2017, Dmitry Medvedev ordered a number of sections of the Sochi National Park and the Sochi Reserve to be rented for 49 years to companies affiliated with Rosa Khutor. The transferred plots are further up the valley of the Mzymta River. Consequently, the area of ​​territories partially or completely changed by a person in the area will only grow.

The scientific community warns not for the first time that the promotion of resorts upstream of the Mzymta River will inevitably lead to an increase in landslide danger and destructive floods.

The associated deforestation is the main factor in the growth of surface runoff, which increases the risk of dangerous natural phenomena. Optimal for regulation of runoff in the mountainous part of the Caucasus is the level of forest cover not less than 70%. With further expansion of the resorts, the forest cover will decrease to 62.8% or lower. The most sensitive hydrologically part of the catchment area is the headwaters of the rivers.

Already today, in the vicinity of Krasnaya Polyana, dangerous natural phenomena have become more frequent. The volume of landslides in 2010-2013 reached 5-20 thousand cubic meters. July 21, 2014 there were landslide masses in the area of ​​the resort "Rosa Khutor", which led to the closure of the roadway. Only by a lucky chance people did not die. The built-in engineering protection was clearly not designed for such landslide masses, and the volume of material removed during the sweeping of the dam was about 2 thousand cubic meters. Already this year, a landslide with an area of ​​about 3 hectares fell on the slopes of the resort "Gorki Gorod". Obviously, with further development of the territory, the frequency of occurrence of hazardous natural phenomena will only increase. In this connection, the strictly limited regime of forest management should be introduced in the sources of Mzymta in order to prevent a threat to people and infrastructure located downstream of the river.

The experience of the Olympic construction showed that the disturbance of the soil and vegetation cover causes a sharp deterioration of water in the Mzymta River, the main source of drinking water for more than 100,000 inhabitants of the Adler district. If the expansion of resorts in the upper reaches of the Mzymta River continues, the increase in the concentration of iron, nitrites, nitrates, phosphates in its water will inevitably lead to a large additional cost for other sources of water supply or for the construction of new treatment facilities.

Human activities to develop these territories will inevitably affect the historically developed ways of animal migration, including the Asian leopard: in the region since 2007, work is underway to create the northern core of the population of these animals - and a unique project for the restoration of the leopard in the Caucasus may be threatened .

The situation is commented on by Igor Chestin, director of WWF Russia:

The development of the Mzymta valley is of great concern to us. Reducing the forest cover in the upper reaches of the river leads to an increase in the number of mudflows and landslides, which we already observe. Experts agree that the further development of infrastructure related to the destruction of forests in the upper reaches of Mzymta can cause emergency situations. And this is not only a danger of mudflows and landslides - water supply of all settlements downstream, including the cities of Adler with a population of more than 100 thousand people, will be under threat.