Why the protection of the forest in the Novosibirsk region has led to the courts and even the greens are unhappy with it

It has been a year since Novosibirsk deputies approved amendments to the law on protected areas.

A photograph: Alena MARTYNOVA, KP-Novosibirsk

February 25 is the birthday of the new law. More specifically – amendments to the law “On Specially Protected Natural Soils (SPNA)”. Although this date is clearly not a reason to celebrate. In the last 12 months, many residents of the Novosibirsk region have become stronger in their opinion about the inconsistency of the decision taken by lawmakers.

TO LIVE – IT IS POSSIBLE TO MAKE A BATHROOM – NO

Remember the history of the issue. In 2020, the Legislative Assembly supported the strengthening of the protection of forest areas in Novosibirsk and the region. Despite the fact that the law on protected areas in the Novosibirsk region already existed and was in force, the deputies developed amendments, the feasibility of which was still disputed at the stage of their debate.

Authorities supported the amendments with concern for the preservation of the area’s green lungs. But the residents, the public activists and later – the businessmen, even the prosecutor’s – had questions and demands to the legislators. It turned out, for example, that the residents of Novosibirsk, who ended up in the protected area, were deprived of the opportunity to build a bath or a garage in their own backyards.

The inclusion of the site in a protected zone also proved controversial. The fact is that the deputies introduced the amendments, but the boundaries of the protected areas were not finally determined, taking time out for that. But they were secured by banning any action in the proposed protected area, which is contrary to federal law.

BLUE BORDERS

In March 2021, the Ministry of Natural Resources set the preliminary limits, giving 9,000 hectares in the Zayeltsovskaya protected area. The criteria by which future protected areas included land for various purposes – for example, a cemetery, the Ob River, plots of land for private residents and organizations – were incomprehensible from the outset. In the spring of 2021, the residents collected about a thousand signatures against the inclusion of their plots in the specially protected natural area and it seems that the authorities listened to them – at the end of the summer, a decree was issued by the Novosibirsk Region government with updated borders: the protected area “lost” almost twice, on 5 thousand hectares, a cemetery, a zoo and an arboriculture, part of a residential development, were excluded from the territory.

Why private buildings were not completely excluded from protected areas remains a mystery. It is also important to note that the boundaries of the Zaeltsovsky pine forest, which the deputies also planned to protect, are not defined in any document. There is only the forest area Zaeltsovsky with an area of ​​about 3 thousand hectares, which certainly has a forest, but for some reason the future protected area is almost double.

Given the obvious confusion in decision making, not all residents now know whether they are in a specific area or not.

– I honestly do not know. According to the initial limits published, I ended up in a protected area. “I think they stay because I’m close to Zaeltsovsky Park, and there are few inhabitants,” says Novosibirsk. journalist and resident Zaeltsovsky Bor Alexei Mazur. – I can assume that where there is massive housing development (large partnerships or cottage settlements), land could be excluded.

This uncertainty is ironic in relation to the actions of legislators. At the same time, for residents of “undefined” areas, the question remains: what to do with economic activity?

It is interesting that the law of the Sverdlovsk region of the Russian Federation no. contain restrictions for residents and entrepreneurs before the creation of protected areas.

The law of the Sverdlovsk region only establishes the procedure for organizing such a protected area (preliminary consideration of proposals for the organization of protected areas, drawing a conclusion without the introduction of prohibitions and restrictions) and also defines the objects subject to protection and protection during the creation of a forest park. At the same time, the object of protection for PA Zaeltsovskoye has not been determined: are these valuable species of trees or animals, birds? Perhaps that is why it is so easy to include even lands that have been under human influence since the Soviet era in the territory of future protected areas.

“THE LAW WORKS” OR “NOTHING HAPPENED”?

At the end of January, the effect of the amendments was assessed Governor of the Novosibirsk Region Andrei Travnikov.

– The law already works. He has been working for almost a year, and he achieved his goal. Well, at least in relation to one of the largest green areas in the city of Novosibirsk, because of which, in fact, all the fuss started – due to an attempt to build this array. “I mean the Zaeltsovsky forest,” Travnikov told a news conference. – With the enactment of this law, with the adoption of the relevant statutes, new construction – residential or commercial – in the territory of the Zaeltsovsky forest is unacceptable.

However, with all this positive assessment, we remind you that last summer at least deforestation was observed in the Zaeltsovsky forest. The governor added that if investors want to restore “non-depressed” social facilities in the protected area, then this is welcome. That is, it turns out that housing development can not be done, but for recreational purposes – is it possible? Why is this not a commercial building?

Surprisingly, even eco-activists and green public figures are unhappy with the law, which should protect the forest.

– In fact, nothing happened, – evaluates the changes that took place during the year coordinator of the “Crippled Novosibirsk” movement Mikhail Ryazanchev. – A decision was made to create a protected area and then nothing was done. So it was a kind of public relations move by the Legislative Assembly to slow down the approval of the General Plan and finally. Nothing has changed.

CORRUPTION FACTOR

In the spring of 2021, the public body of the Siberian Ecological Commonwealth filed a lawsuit for the annulment of the amendments.

The court of first instance partially satisfied the claim, removing the restrictions on reconstruction and construction in the zone of the future protected area until its final boundaries are determined. The plaintiffs appealed against the decision, seeking the complete repeal of the amendments. This position was also supported by the prosecutor’s office, seeing a factor of corruption in the decision of the Legislative Assembly. Apparently, the businessmen’s complaint about the amendments had an effect – in the summer of 2021, they told the Russian Attorney General Igor Krasnov, who arrived in Novosibirsk, for the violation of their rights by the amendments.

The appeal upheld the first instance decision, but the plaintiffs are not going to stop there and plan to go at least to the appeal, and if necessary to the Supreme Court.

People are now wondering: why did the authorities fight so hard for the amendments? To maintain green lungs? Or to establish control over the territories, to redistribute powers between the city and the region?

The Legislative Assembly is likely to change the amendments at least in part. And if further court rulings are in favor of the plaintiffs, then the legislators will have to return to the issue. Such a turn of events is fraught with loss of reputation not only at the regional but also at the federal level: proceedings in the Supreme Court are likely to attract the attention of federal journalists. Is such a cost necessary in addition to the dispute or is it better to unite in search of a solution that protects the forest but does not violate human rights?

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