Lackof Transport Endangers Environment on Russian Far East Nature Reserve

BBC MonitoringInternational Reports, November 17, 2003
Source: Channel One TV, Moscow, in Russian 0900 gmt 17 Nov 03

(Newsreader)A critical situation has emerged at one of the largest nature reserves in thecountry – the Kronotskiy nature reserve in Kamchatka. Because of a lack ofhelicopter transport, dozens of inspectors there have lost contact with theoutside world. Here is a report by Sergey Kosarev:

(Correspondent) The management of the Kronotskiy nature reserve, the largest inKamchatka, now has no time to deal with protection of the environment. Theirmain concern is to supply food to people living in the taiga, get sick people tohospital and transport staff. At the moment they are not managing at all. Thepeninsula’s helicopter company has lost its licence and consequently the naturereserve has been left unable to communicate with the outside world. (ViktorKomarov, deputy director of the Kronotskiy state nature reserve) The (Chazhma)boundary is quite a long way away, 400 km from Yelizovo. And in fact a member ofour staff has been stranded there for the last 20 days.

(Correspondent) The Kronotskiy nature reserve covers over a million hectares,and such a vast area of land can only be protected from the air. An aircraftcompany had been carrying out these duties for free in accordance with anagreement with the Natural Resources Ministry. There is no possibility of hiringhelicopters from another company, as funds are too tight. But the effect of thesituation could be far greater.

(Yuriy Garashchenko, head of Kamchatka Region’s natural resources andenvironmental protection directorate) We now have more poachers. The poachershave learnt that the inspectors cannot travel from one side of the reserve tothe other. We know there will be losses to the environment of Kamchatka, to itsbiodiversity.

(Correspondent) Preparations for winter at the far side of the reserve are nowin doubt, and in fact winter has already begun. Dozens of people in the deeptaiga will be left, or have already been left, without food, fuel or medicines.Another week, or two weeks at the most, and the situation will turn into anemergency.

(Komarov) It’s the end of the year, the situation is difficult. We will probablyhave to ask for help, probably from the Emergencies Ministry or somebody, so asat least to carry out a shift change and to drop food onto the territory ofreserve.

(Correspondent) The geologists have problems too. There is no way of sendingdrilling equipment to the north. Gas and oil exploration work has come to astandstill. Forestry staff are desperate too. If things carry on this way untilspring, forest fires will break out, and it would be impossible to put them outwithout aircraft.



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