Forest defenders argue: the authorities committed numerous violations during the design of the highways.
Anastasia Kandina, civil activist
I live in the Solntsevo area, in the west of Moscow . A stone's throw away is a huge Ulyanovsk forest park (an area of 2,682 hectares), most of it is located in the Novomoskovsk administrative district (annexed to the capital in 2012).
What do the inhabitants of a metropolis mean by the concept of a valuable natural area? The opportunity to just come here, listen to streams, take a walk in the rain, rustle with fallen leaves, creak with snow. In the Ulyanovsk forest park there are both wide glades and small paths; and glades, and groves, and spruce forests, and pine forests. The forest for the townspeople is both an assistant, and a healer, and an open book - 76 objects of flora and fauna, listed in the Red Book of Moscow, including one species from the Red Book of the Russian Federation, live here - the last from the former biodiversity of the capital.
And it is also important for me that a forest park is an independent natural system: i.e. it can regulate itself, no investment of money or additional efforts is required (no need to mow lawns, build bike paths, playgrounds). And at the same time, thanks to the wind rose, this forest is a reservoir of clean air for the southwestern wedge, through which the territories inside the Garden Ring are ventilated.
When information appeared that in The felling will begin in the Ulyanovsk forest park, it was hard to believe...
Felling trees with excavators for the construction of a section of the Solntsevo-Butovo-Vidnoye road between Kievskoye and Borovskoye highways began on March 1 this year. The clearing was guarded by officers from the 2nd Special Police Regiment, which usually disperses rallies in Moscow. The activists who rushed to the defense were not allowed into the forest; they had to make their way to the equipment by secret paths. More than 40,000 trees were destroyed in six days under police protection.
Residents, behind whom more than two years of confrontation with the "forest highways", having secured the promise of the mayor Sergei Sobyanin to sort it out, expected the mayor to make an order to adjust the routing of the road and interchanges to reduce environmental damage, to cancel the project proposing roads through the forest park, but in fact received destruction of forests at a record pace. And the brutal way in which trees and bushes were destroyed was intended to demonstrate to caring residents that resistance is useless, they need to come to terms with the current situation.
We cannot accept this. The project of a backup for the Moscow Ring Road Solntsevo - Butovo - Vidnoye is controversial from all sides.
The stated goal - improving transport accessibility, reducing traffic congestion and improving the quality of life in the Primkadie region - cannot be achieved due to erroneous design decisions. Such conclusions are contained in the calculations of the Working Group on the construction of the highway, which are confirmed by the Institute of the General Plan of Moscow.
The working group was created by the decree of the head of the Novo-Peredelkino administration. It consists of specialists, builders, engineers, ecologists. The Moscow Ring Road backup will run into the district streets with traffic lights, which not only will not solve the problem of traffic jams, but will provoke a gigantic transport collapse with accompanying harmful emissions into the atmosphere. A transit traffic flow will rush to the Novo-Peredelkino area, which also does not correspond to the stated goal of solving the problems of transport accessibility for local residents. The Borovskoye Highway's backup is even more meaningless - it leads to nowhere at all - from Novoorlovskaya Street, where the Coca-Cola plant is located, to cottage settlements and a small microdistrict located in the immediate vicinity of the metro station. However, the very appearance of the project for the construction of the Borovskoye Highway backup road raises concerns that, in order to provide it with a car load, it is possible that new capital construction projects will be erected on the territory of the Ulyanovsk forest park.
As for the improvement in the quality of life, declared by the developers of the project, everything will happen exactly the opposite. 10% of the territory between the Kiev and Borovskoye highways is cut down - 40 hectares. The dissection of the forest park by roads will divide it into five isolated sections, two interchanges with overpasses will be built in the center of the natural massif, and it is also planned to lay a branch of the high-pressure gas pipeline. The implementation of such a project will inevitably lead to a deterioration of the ecological situation, disrupt the habitat of rare plants and animals, and reduce their number to the point of complete destruction. And all this will negatively affect the inhabitants, because the objects of flora and fauna are an integral element of the natural communities of Moscow, serve as objective indicators of the state of the environment and the ecological well-being of the city.
In 2018, at public hearings in Novo-Peredelkino, citizens spoke out strongly against deforestation and the proposed project. It was recommended to take into account the comments of citizens, but this did not affect the project in any way. Officials of the Moscow construction complex, invited for clarifications, could not offer anything to return the situation to the legal field.
The Forest Forum of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation also recommended that the city authorities listen to the opinion of experts and defenders of the Ulyanovsk forest and begin to develop solutions aimed primarily not at the business requests of developers, but at the interests of city residents.
In 2015, the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation recommended the Moscow Government to introduce a moratorium on the construction of roads in the forests of New Moscow. The working group proposed an alternative, environmentally friendly, version of the road. The offer was ignored. As well as the urgent demand of ecologists to discuss the issue of transferring the Ulyanovsk forest from the status of a specially protected green area (SPNA) to the status of a specially protected natural area (SPNA).
Ulyanovsk Forest had the status of a SPNA before the territory was annexed to Moscow. As it now turns out, this forest park, as well as other territories annexed in 2012), are considered by the Moscow government as a reserve construction site. And this is fully consistent with the policy of the authorities to develop the region mainly in the urban planning context. Accordingly, the construction of highways is necessary for the effective development of the metropolis. The context of environmental criteria, as follows from their rhetoric, is optional, or understood in some other way - not in the priority of preserving natural zones.
In the case of the Ulyanovsk forest, "optional" was expressed in the following: project documentation (in terms of environmental protection measures - flora and fauna) for the construction of roads of the main course of the Solntsevo-Butovo-Vidnoye highway on the territory of the forest park was prepared before the results of engineering surveys were obtained about habitats of rare and endangered species of plants and animals, and these results were not included in the project documentation. Hiding these results, the designers included in the optional volume of design documentation the results of a one-day tour in October 2019, as a result of which no valuable objects of flora and fauna were found on the territory of the Ulyanovsk forest park intended for construction.
Due to the gross violation of the Urban Planning Code and federal legislation on the protection of nature, in early 2020, the project documentation received a negative opinion from Mosgosexpertiza, which should have influenced a complete revision of the MKAD backup project in this area. However, already in October 2020, Mosgosexpertiza issued a positive conclusion, and in February 2021, a construction permit.
Now the Department of Nature Management and Environmental Protection of Moscow has come out against the Red Books. According to his answers, there are rare species on the territory of the Ulyanovsk forest as a whole (!), But the Department does not know whether they live at the site of felling and construction. And on the basis of such "data", the environmental authority and the Commission under it consider it "possible to implement the construction project."
The Commission under the Department issued its opinion on the implementation of the construction project in an unauthorized composition, beyond its powers, while having data on specific plants and animals from the Red Book of Moscow on the territory of the Ulyanovsk forest park. Mosgosexpertiza approved the project, turning a blind eye to violations, which it itself demanded to be eliminated, having data from an engineering and environmental survey report confirming the presence of protected species on the territory intended for construction. Moreover, they turned a blind eye to such "trifles" as compensatory landscaping.
An initiative group of forest defenders sent an appeal to the interregional environmental prosecutor's office and the prosecutor's office of Moscow, with a request to believe the revealed violations of the law, to assess the frauds committed at all stages - from the approval and approval of the project to the positive conclusion of Mosgosexpertiza and to cancel the construction.
Alas, at present the situation is such that all our appeals to the supervisory authorities are sent to the Department of Nature Management or to Mosgosstroynadzor, the paperwork has gone into a second round. There are some differences though. The department began to refer to the fact that the construction of the road is envisaged by the General Plan of Moscow, a targeted investment program. One gets the impression that the prosecutor's office and residents are not responsible for environmental protection, but the body in charge of construction issues. It is also clear from the available answers that the Moscow government simply does not notice the arguments of the defenders of the forest, in fact, hiding behind the available documents. Allegedly, the only thing that matters is that there is a document, and the facts underlying this document, which are refuted both by the provisions of the law and by the actual state of affairs, do not matter .
From the correspondence with the authorities it follows: if one authority issued an agreement, the second authority relied on this agreement and issued its approval - the procedures have been followed, therefore, in the opinion of officials, nothing can be done.
Studying the correspondence, it seems to us that the guardians diligently avoid delving into the main thing. The Green Belt of Moscow was created to protect the health of people. Now the authorities seem to have completely abandoned this decision and are planting a time bomb. In the future, we will either have to restore forests for a lot of money, or abandon ecological potential and live like in Beijing. On the way to this - the already taken place felling of trees. It is possible to save wildlife, to preserve rare species of plants, animals and their environment only by stopping the ax brought in by officials. This has not yet been achieved with the help of the prosecutor's office.
The incredible efforts of environmentalists and activists managed to achieve only some concessions on the Borovskoye highway backup in the forest park. The construction complex in Moscow refused from the initial version of the construction of four lanes, the state contract was terminated. But the plans include the construction of a two-lane road, that is, the threat of construction remains.
Some lull (before the elections to the State Duma?) Is observed around the Moscow Ring Road understudy. But the Ulyanovsk forest park for the main course of the Solntsevo-Butovo-Vidnoye route has already been cut down ... Part of the remaining forest is no longer fulfilling its recreational, sanitary and hygienic and ecological functions. As soon as the construction site moves inland, the green area will be completely lost both for people and for our inhabitants of the Red Book.
However, nothing has been built yet, and it is impossible to stay idle. We need a public resonance around the story of the Ulyanovsk forest. We need support from Muscovites for assigning the status of a protected area to the forest park and for refusing any construction projects on its territory. There is simply no other way to protect the most valuable and most defenseless thing in Moscow from vandalism - wildlife.