Socio-ecological Union

The Newsletter of
the Socio-Ecological Union
A Center for Coordination
and Information

Moscow, Russia -- Issue 8(30), August, 2002






Public environmental assessment of the project of canal "The Danube-Black sea" has begun

  The inter-regional NGO "Pechenegi" (Kharkov, Ukraine) has announced the beginning of the public environmental assessment of effect of project of an abyssal ship canal "The Danube-the Black sea" by the estuary Bystroye on the environment of the delta of Danube. The canal is prospected to pass through the part of the Danube delta where the Danube reserve is, and its construction threatens the unique Danube environment. S.Shaparenko, the chairman of "Pechenegi" council has directed the letter with request of design documentation to a developer of the project - "Delta-Lotsman" corporation.
  In April, 2002 K.Sizov, the deputy of chief executive of "Delta-Lotsman" corporation officially has refused of the variant of canal construction through the estuary Bystroye.
  April 29 NANU created a temporary group of 16 experts to prepare an ecological substantiation of possible alternative variants of building of the channel.
  May 16, the State department of sea and river transport of Ukraine Transport Ministry, carrying out the order of the Ukraine government, has sent in "Projecthydrostroy" the requirement specification on development of feasibility report of the investments of building of an abyssal ship canal from the Danube river to the Black sea on the path "Solomon branch - Zebriyanskaya bay". "Projecthydrostroy" has made a requirement specification and has submitted it on approval.
  At the beginning of June, 2002 the State department of sea and river transport sent the letter to Vilemir Zizak, the author of idea of channel project, where they asked him to take into account some remarks. So as NANU scientists considered the project as invalid. He took into account all requirements completely and has passed the specification for the final approval.
  But June 10 the Transport Ministry has suddenly dispatched the protocol of conference of interdepartmental workgroup on building the abyssal ship canal "the Danube - the Black sea ", where the project of building of the canal through the estuary Bystroye was discussed again. Although on the conference this variant wasn't mentioned at all.
  The feasibility report of the canal project was completed only July, 11. Before that, Ukraine Transport Ministry within 1,5 years tried to begin realisation of the canal project without any approval. Besides, the procedure of estimation of effect of the design on the environment was fulfilled breaking the legislation of Ukraine, because only one variant of the channel building (on the estuary Bystroye) was considered only, and alternative variants weren't mentioned at all.
  The engineering design of the ship canal has been develop, despite of the negative conclusion of the environmental assessment. In spite of that the realisation of the project breaks the Ukrainian and international legislation, in the budget of Ukraine about $5 million on construction of the canal are already discharged.


  The construction of the canal threatens the Danube biosphere reserve. In case of canal construction, it will result in destruction of unique species of animals and plants (now 94 species listed in the Red book are dwell in the reserve), the migration ways of several millions birds (133 species) will be disturbed, the process of reproduction of Danube herring will be totally stopped (now 95% of Danube herring has the breeding place on the area of the reserve). The reserve is protected by Ramsar convention, it is a part of the UNESCO's World reserves network, and it enters the Ukraine - Romania interborder biosphere reserve.

  For further information, please, contact:
  Danube biosphere reserve
  phone: + 38 (04843) 2-15-77

  You can support nature reserve by sending letters to e-mail: with subject "To Save Danube Reserve!"



  Authorities pursue the opponents of construction of the terminal On Taman peninsula (near the Black Sea, southwest of Russia) construction of terminal of ammonia (very dangerous chemical) goes on despite of a lot of protests of local residents and NGOs. Recently it became known that Gennadiy Maikov, the head of local administration -who is an active opponent of the ammonia storage construction on Taman - is compelled to resign.
  Authorities of higher rank have ordered to Maikov either to cooperate with corporation "Tolyatti Azot" (which develops the terminal) - or to leave his position. So Maikov was forced to resign because of disagreement to carry out the orders and decisions of the head of Temrukski district related to interaction with the corporation. He considers that construction of the ammonia terminal is extremely harmful to environment and inhabitants of Taman.
  Now Maikov is not resigned yet, the formula of his resignation does not meet the ideas of the chiefs. All the administration of Krasnodar region presses on Maikov: endless checks, commissions are planned to make the head of Taman to resign "on his own will".
  Despite of attempts of authorities to get rid of opponents of the terminal construction, Gennadiy Maikov recently was elected ataman (the elder of Cossacks) of Taman; the initiative group to hold the referendum on ammonia storage construction will be registered on the nearest session of district council.
  Unfortunately, local residents are bad informed about the problem, many of them cannot imagine the real threat of the ammonia terminal for their own health and life. Many people were deceived by leaflets with false information distributed by "Tolyatti Azot".
  The construction of the ammonia terminal on the Taman peninsula is absolutely barbaric. Taman should have another future. As Gennadiy Maikov, the head of Taman, wrote in an open letter to the Russian President: "The Taman is a small strip of seaside in Russia only remained, where ordinary, not rich people could come on summer holidays and to improve their health".


  The chemical corporation "Tolyatti Azot" conducts the development of the ammonia terminal and port Zelezny Rog in 10 kilometers from the Cossack village Taman.
  The terminal is designed for storage of 2,2 million tons of the liquefied ammonia and same amount of carbon hydrogen annually. These substances can be a very dangerous chemical weapon. If the terminal would be built, 6 thousand tons of ammonia would be delivered by railway every day. Chemicals would be loaded into holds of ships in the deep sea by a pipeline 2,5 kilometers length. Here are only few of many reasons to prohibit the ammonia terminal construction on Taman. First, Taman peninsula is a place of increased seismic activity. There are more than 70 mud volcanoes on Taman, many of them still active and represent danger to any construction. Second, loading of ammonia into ships is very dangerous operation. It must be made in a closed bay protected from waves, hurricanes, and streams. It shouldn't be done in the deep sea in any case. However, there is an awful sea stream near the port Zelezny Rog, and it permanently changes its speed and way.
  Besides, there are many archeological monuments on Taman peninsula. There are the rests of settlements of ancient Greek civilization only kept in Russia. A calculated damage of Russian cultural heritage caused by construction of ammonia storage is about 2 billion rubles (more than 64 million dollars), that much more than profits promised by the builders of the terminal. The corporation "Tolyatti Azot" broke the federal and local laws when it began the building of the terminal. They haven't feasibility report on the project, they have no conclusion of Ministry of nature protection; the Code of laws on building of Russian Federation, the law environment protection and many other laws were broken. Necessary documents "Tolyatti Azot" has received backdating. Local residents didn't gave their agree on construction of such dangerous objects near their houses.
  And the most important: the terminal represents a fatal danger for people who live in neighborhood. Directly in a zone of projected construction of the terminal there are 11 settlements where 30 thousand people live. In case of accident a cloud of ammonia could reach these settlements in few minutes.
  In addition to that, 20 kilometers further on the seaside there is the National children's resort Anapa, where hundreds of thousands of children from all the parts of Russia usually come on their summer vacations.
  Therefore in case of accident or terrorist attack, an explosion of the storage (about 100 thousand tons of ammonia) would cause the national catastrophe.

  By information of Konstatin Kouksin
  Photos and additional information are available at ISEU press-service


Hunters and scientists exaggerate harm wolves put to farm animals.

  It's generally known that when wolves hunt on ungulates they cannot put any serious damage to a whole population. On the contrary, they help to preserve populations from diseases and degradation. Wolf can catch only a weakened animal - this is the natural selection.
  The bullet of a hunter, on the contrary, is ruthless and non-cautious. Hunters prefer to get beautiful and strong elks, deer, roes. Of course, a big animal it's easier to shoot it from a gun. Therefore the size of ungulates has reduce in their entire European habitat. This hunting may be called a selection too, but it is an unnatural selection, which results in weakening of population. After, maybe, century else of this hunting ungulates would become very small, if would not disappear at all.
  Nevertheless, the "experts" from Department on hunting of Rostov region declare, that they could cope with regulation of ungulates on their own, that "they needn't a wolf for this". "Akela must die" - they wrote in the "Rostov official" newspaper. It's do doubt that hunters will support such authorities' point of view and soon, it seems, with enthusiasm will start to regulate a number of elks and wild boars. And, in the meantime, local department of hunting will receive unlimited profit from selling licenses on hunting on wolves.
  Wolves, foxes, jackals, wild dogs are the natural enemies of rodents. If there are no these preying animals in wildlife, mice, rats, marmots are breeding fast and their populations increase many times. Rodents are natural transmitting agents of such infections as rabies and leptospirosis. Rodent can get viruses and carry them inside for a long time, not having disease, instead of perish in several days after disease, as the wolves and dogs are. Therefore epidemic areas are spread: in steppe areas of Rostov and Stavropol regions these illnesses have spread very wide, there is a threat of plague.
  And so "anti-rodents" hysteria instead of "anti-wolf" one begins. Hunters demand poisoned baits. They strew the holes of marmots with poison chemicals, scattered poisoned grains everywhere. But all these poisons are washed off into the rivers, so the water pollutes by poison chemicals. Birds are perishing from poisoned grain: for example, in Rostov region a lot of wild birds died on the river Manycha.
  The official "experts" prefer to explain, that that mass dying of animals is caused by farmlands are deserted and not cultured. It is very arguable: from this factor number of rodents only reduces: less grain on the fields - less food for rats.
  The damage that rodents put to agriculture is also exaggerated. During barbarous campaigns for destruction marmots (in 1940-50s) they spoke, that one marmot eats 4 kg of grain every year, and nobody spoke, that they ate only fallen grain (by the way, after such campaigns populations of marmots have not restored till now).
  The offer is:
  1. To forbid the hunting and to expect on for natural mechanisms of regulations. Not to kill predators, which are be limiting factor and for large animals (including ungulates) and for rodents too.
  2. In case of emergency to scatter sterilizing baits.
  3. Predators are sanitary of forest and steppe. But, carrying out their ecological function, they frequently get illnesses - hydrophobia (rabies) - and represent a danger for people and other animals. The vaccination of preying animals is necessary, especially of rabies virus. For this purpose it is possible or to catch them for vaccinate and then to let out back in wild nature, or to shoot by syringes with vaccine. It is possible to do with environmentalists' efforts.

  For further information:
  Zelenaya Molinya (Green lightning)
  mail to:,


Zoo helps disappearing cranes to return into nature.

  At the end of June in the Khingansky reserve (on the Far East, Amur region) the first return into wildlife of Japanese cranes was held. These birds have been grown up in a semi-wild state. The biologists hope to continue this successful experience.
  Re-introduction - the process of returning animals into wild nature - is included into wider problem of conservation of rare species.
  Japanese crane is a bird listed in the Red Book of International Union of Nature Protection and the Red Book of Russia. It is the most rare specie of cranes in Russia. Their world number is about 1,8 - 2 thousand birds, in Russia there are about 500 birds. In Russia the number of pairs of cranes, which are breed, was extremely reduced and their habitat has decreased. There are many causes of reduction of crane population, but the basic two are fires and human destroying activities.
  The technology of breed of Japanese cranes in captivity now is rather well studied. The amount of artificial population continues to grow. But in the nature Japanese cranes now almost have not breed successfully, that invokes the great alarm for destiny of population in Russia.
  According to Red Book of Russia (2000) recommendations, it is possible to conserve this specie through re-introduction of cranes and creating of a semi-wild population in area of their natural habitat. These birds would be tolerant to human neighborhood.
  Regular introduction of young birds, born in captivity, into wildlife will help the cranes to survive in conditions of human influence and endless wood fires.
  In Khingansky reserve the method of crane re-introduction and creation of a semi-wild population is developed. However, to successful fulfill this, it's necessary, that there was many cranes ready to return into nature. The zoos or specialized nurseries could prepare birds to re-introduction. Now the Moscow zoo and Nursery of rare species of Oka reserve (Ryazan region) are engaged to breeding of cranes.
  Moscow zoo has already 3 birds now, and in Oka reserve there are 4 birds born in 2001 and ready to return into nature. The place of the cranes' returning into wildlife would be the Station of re-introducing of rare birds' species of Khingansky reserve.
  In the long term other Russian zoos (in Novosibirsk, St.-Petersburg, Rostov) - where Japanese cranes successfully breed - can join this work.
  According to opinion of the experts of Biodiversity Conservation Center, on especially protected natural area (220 thousands hectares) where already up to 25 breeding pairs of cranes dwell, it is possible to let out the cranes up to 50 pairs. This would allow creating there a steady viable local population of cranes, which descendants will be settled on nearby bogs. As the experts believe, the place of cranes introduction on this area is possible in any most suitable place.
  Scientific researches of behavior, migration, ecological features and labeling of birds will be carried out there also. That would help biological and ecological study of Japanese cranes.

  For further information:
  Biodiversity Conservation Center
  Alexey Zimenko

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  This issue was written and complied by Sviatoslav Zabelin - the SEU Council Co-Chair,
  Victoria Kolesnikova and Valery Tikhonov, translation by Alla Kapustina