Preservation of Biodiversity
Sochi's natural surroundings, and those of the whole region where the XXII Olympic Winter Games and the XI Paralympic Winter Games are to be staged, are unique. Preserving this uniqueness for future generations is one of the key tasks for everyone involved in Russia's Olympic Project. Taking into account the scale of the construction activity, and the unavoidable impact it is having on particular parts of the landscape and natural habitats, sites and territories, this task is by no means easy, and it demands a huge concentration of resources, knowledge and will-power by the responsible executors.
Measures aimed at softening this impact and compensating for the harm done to the environment, known colloquially among experts as "compensation measures", are being drawn up based on a deep knowledge of natural processes, the nature of the impact and the technologies for minimizing it, and data from complex environmental monitoring. This is a huge workload, involving great expense and a great deal of responsibility.
A key role among such measures is played by expanding the former specially protected natural areas in the Games region, and by creating new ones. In particular, there are plans to annex a 20 ha section of the Loo forest to Sochi National Park. The park's new borders are to be fully determined by the end of 2012. In addition, an arboretum has been created in which aboriginal, rare and endangered species of trees and shrubs from the West Caucasus can be grown. A program is in place to restore a population of the Persian leopard, under the personal control of the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and the Chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission, Jean-Claude Killy. At present, the Persian Leopard Breeding Center contains 4 leopards - 2 males (General and Alous) and 2 females (Mino and Cherry).
Some of the other measures being taken during the course of Olympic construction, in order to preserve biodiversity in the region where the Games are to be staged, are: optimizing the nature conservation regime, creating artificial habitats for animals and plants in Sochi National Park and the Caucasian Biosphere Reserve, restoring and regenerating the natural landscapes, and planting and reintroducing rare and endangered species of flora and fauna, many of which are listed in the Red Book.
Thus, in the course of the Olympic Park's construction, 450 animals were relocated to specially protected territories within the Imeretinskaya Valley. Among other significant compensation measures being taken are: the creation of over 900 nesting areas for birds, and the installation of 13 observation towers, to be used to watch animals in the area of the "RusSki Gorki" Jumping Center, along with the relocating of over 400 animals to the "Laura" Cross-country Ski & Biathlon Center.
In special arboretums within Sochi National Park, specimens of rare and Red Book-listed plants are being sown, which are then moved out into their natural environment. Moreover, in order to guarantee that their numbers are restored, it is essential that a significantly larger number of plants are planted than the number that were damaged, taking into account the difficulties faced by the new plants when trying to survive in a new habitat. By way of example, over 2000 Red Book-listed plants have already been replanted on the Psekhako Ridge; around 10,000 trees have been planted as a compensation measure during the construction of the Sliding Center "Sanki"; and to make up for the 27 Pitsunda pine trees cut down during construction of the combined Adler - Krasnaya Polyana route, 138 specimens of this tree were planted. Overall, for every tree chopped down in the Sochi region, 2 to 5 specimens of the same species are planted.
In order to reduce the impact on the animal world, special attention is being paid to protecting animals' natural migration paths, and creating artificial crossing points across technical impediments (barriers, roads, embankments).
A special program has been developed for the Imeretinskaya Valley. In the winter a large number of migratory birds come to this area. When snow falls early in the mid-mountain zone, the number of birds gathering here reaches 3,000 per sq. km. a Taking into account the considerable environmental significance of the Imeretinskaya Valley, the decision was taken to create a natural ornithological park here, measuring over 200 ha. in area, by the end of 2012.