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21 Apr, 2008 00:59

Greens fear Sochi games will hurt environment

UN officials are in Sochi to assess what environmental damage the 2014 Winter Olympics might have on the area around the city. Ecologists from UNESCO fear the massive amount of building work being undertaken before the games will harm the flora and fauna

When you walk through the streets of Sochi, you can almost feel the winds of change. Flowers are being planted in the parks and the banks of the river Sochi are getting a brand-new look.

Many locals are surprised to see so many improvements in just a few months. Most of them are sure that it’s all because of the 2014 Olympics.

Meanwhile, some people are concerned about environmental issues. They are afraid that massive construction may harm nature.

More than 200 venues are to be built in and around the resort for the Winter Games of 2014.

A UNESCO world heritage site, the Caucasian biosphere reserve, lies just to the north of Sochi. Several environmental watchdog agencies have expressed their concern that the area may be ruined by construction companies.

Some plans, like those for the Grushovy bobsleigh track, have been widely criticised by the campaigners.

Aleksandr Levchenko, spokesman for the World Wildlife Fund in southern Russia, says this particular area must be preserved for migrating animals.

“Grushovy Ridge in the valley of the river Pslukh is the only spot still unaffected by human activity. If we build a bobsleigh and luge track here, with roads and hotels, we will most definitely destroy the existing migration routes,” he explained.

“But The World Wildlife Fund has never opposed the Olympic Games. Our fundamental position is to try to minimise any damage to the environment,” he added.

So, with a lot of construction work to be done, it might require strict control from both environmental activists and the authorities to preserve the unique wildlife and, at the same time, to work towards the success of the Olympics.