Serbia: ‘Stara Planina’ – The Environmental Destruction Evidence Continues to Build

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Below you will see many photographs of a nature reserve area called ‘Golema Reka’ which is located within the region of Stara Planina.  Please see our past links on Stara Planina at:

https://serbiananimalsvoice.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/240809-global-launch-of-campaign-to-save-stara-planina-animals-and-plants-international-supporters-your-individual-help-is-essential-please-copy-and-send-letter-given-in-post-below/

https://serbiananimalsvoice.wordpress.com/2009/08/09/serbia-more-major-environmental-destruction-planned-your-help-needed-to-raise-global-awareness/

https://serbiananimalsvoice.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/serbia-environmental-destruction-at-babin-zub/

https://serbiananimalsvoice.wordpress.com/2009/01/15/serbia-beautiful-environmental-region-of-serbia-to-become-ski-centre-please-read-and-take-action/

https://serbiananimalsvoice.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/serbia-please-give-your-petition-support-to-save-serbian-beautiful-river-rzav-from-government-and-industry-abuse/

A petition about Stara Planina can be signed by clicking on the following link.

Please give just one minute of your time to sign this. 

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/save-staraplanina-petition

Golema Reka is according to the Serbian government, allegedly, the most protected nature estate within Serbia.

Over the last few years during construction of the huge ski resort at Stara Planina, massive environmental damage has taken place at Golema Reka.  More than 3,000 hectares of very old Mountain Beech forest has been destroyed and roads have illegally been constructed through the forests – new roads constructed where according to legislation, only existing forest roads should be maintained. 

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Beautiful natural rivers and brooks have been diverted and are now routed through concrete pipework to comply with the planners wishes.  This has now led to mountain areas becoming dry; areas of the mountains that were once served by the passing rivers.  The new, man made dryness of the land has now resulted in rockslides. 

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For only two (2) months of the year will there be any remote possibility of adequate ski snow in the region of Stara Planina, but this is only if there is a temperature range of  0° C ± 2° C. – but regardless of the time of year, and including these two months mentioned, artificial snow producing equipment has now had to be purchased to make enough snow for future visitors to the resort.  There is a likely chance that with global warming,  the artificial snow making equipment may very well have to be used throughout all twelve (12) months to produce enough ski snow, which includes the ‘better’ two month natural ‘ski snow’ period !

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During the winter period 2008, for example 23rd / 24th  February, there was NO natural snow in the regions of Stara planina and Babin zub; February is a traditional Winter month when one would expect snow in a ski resort region.  It did not happen at Stara planina; so one has to question the logic behind the whole planning and management of this programme.  Stara planina is an area of outstanding natural beauty in relation to both its flora and fauna.  Any natural ‘ski snow’ season will last only two months, with the use of machines to produce enough additional ‘snow’ for visitors to ski on.  This is a project which has cost a great deal of money to construct; and for what ? – what financial costs can be attributed to a lot of permanent environmental damage as is being done here in this region ? 

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Serbian campaigners have information that allegedly, one Mr. Mladjan Dinkic, who was the President of the Ski Society of Serbia, has now resigned and gone elsewhere due to charges made regarding environmental (flora and fauna) destruction at Stara Planina.  Possibly Mr. Mladjan Dinkic is trying to avoid any current or future personal charges or prosecutions in relation to the environmental damage and construction decisions and procedures undertaken years ago in relation to the design of Stara Planina.  But quite rightly, regardless of peoples past or current involvement with the facility, campaigners are correctly calling for all parties involved to be investigated and further legal action to be taken where necessary, regardless of their past or their current involvement with the project.

Below is the charge made in relation to environmental damage at Golema Reka. Firstly written in its original Serbian, and then followed by an English translation.

Of special interest is the last paragraph, which declares that the Government representative at the public debate on the changes to the regional plan for the Knjazevac municipality, one of the areas affected by the work at Stara Planina, was one Mr. Ljubomir Jovanovic, who it is understood has since been arrested and investigated under accusations that he was engaged in the misuse of money from budgets associated with the the construction of ‘tourist objects’.

Investigations are on-going by campaigning organisations within and outside of Serbia.  Further information and photographs will be published as things continue and more information is obtained.

The charge made in relation to environmental damage at Golema Reka, which can be read below, provides full details of the rerasons why questions have to be asked about the entire history of the planning for Stara Planina.

Please take time to read the charge and to view all the pgotographs of the environmental damage being done for a ski resort which at best, will only have 2 months of natural snowfall each year.

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Serbian Original Charge

Ministarstvo unutrasnjih poslova

Ministarstvo zastite zivotne sredine i prostorno planiranje

Ministarstvo poljoprivrede sumarstva i vodoprivrede

Zavod za zastitu prirode Srbije

Predmet:  Prijava po saznanju da je u  Strogom Prirodnom Rezervatu Golema Reka na Staroj planini, najvecem zasticenom pririodnom dobru u Srbiji,  I kategorije  doslo do narusavanja i degradacije prirodnog ambijenta i odlika, unistavanje biljnih zajednica, izazivanje erozija i to zbog neplanskog izvodjenja radova na pravljenju/prosirenju  puta ka Babinom Zubu kroz strogi prirodni rezervat  Golema Reka, gde inace nisu dozvoljeni nikakvi radovi.

Strogi Prirodni rezervat Golema Reka  obuhvata autohtonu sumsku zajednicu tipa prasume koju sacinjava zajednica planinske bukve Luzulo-Fagetum serbicum, a namenjen je za ocuvanje genofonda i nalazi se u granicama zasticenog prirodnog dobra “Stara Planina” na kojoj  su  razvijene reliktne polidominantne sumske zajednice, koje izgradjuju biljne vrste endemskog i reliktnog karaktera, a kao posebno vredna podrucja  su izdvojeni rezervati kojima samo ime kaze sta zapravo predstavljaju a Zakonom o zastiti prirode je precizno definisano kakav stepen zastite im je namenjen zbog znacaja koji imaju!!! Nikakva izgradnja pa ni izgradnja puteva osim odrzavanja vec postojecih sumskih puteva nije predvidjena , cak je i zabranjeno bilo sta raditi sto moze dovesti u pitanje ocuvanje i opstanak strogog pririodnog rezervata.

Obavestavamo sve nadlezne da je tokom 2007-2008 god. radovima na prosirenju puta ka Babinom zubu doslo do narusavanja prirodnog dobra i stete po Strogi rezervat prirode”Golema reka”. Prilikom prosirenja puta izvodjac radova je nasipao zemlju, stenje i sut duz trase puta, a niz padinu pokrivenu bukovom sumom prasumskog tipa, cime je ugrozio integritet sumske zajednice i reke koja tuda tece(Golema reka).

Narusavanje biljnog pokrivaca pokrenulo je proces erozije, koji je dalje ugrozio kvalitet podloge i povrsinskih voda.

Osnovano sumnjamo da je neko od angazovanih na ovim poslovima zlonamerno premestio tablu sa obavestenjem o rezimu zastite (uklonio tablu sa nosaca, i vratio je sa druge strane nosaca, tako da se stice utisak da SRP “Golema reka” prestaje tamo gde zapravo pocinje), u cilju zbunjivanja javnosti i nadleznih inspekcijskih organa.

Osnovano sumnjamo (na osnovu cinjenice da su radovi otpoceli pre usvajanja izmena prostornih planova opstina Pirot i Knjazevac, koji su ustvari naknadno prilagodjavani  s predumisljajem , kako bi se  legalizovale nezakonite radnje ) da su radovi otpoceli bez odgovarajucih odobrenja, i da nisu sprovedeni u skladu sa vazecim planskim dokumentima u trenutku pocetka radova.

Takodje, osnovano sumnjamo (na osnovu kamiona sa drvnom gradjom primecenih na lokaciji), da se sa podrucja SRP “Golema reka” i drugih zasticenih podrucja Parka prirode “Stara planina” protivpravno sece suma i izvlaci drvna gradja, mimo nadleznosti i planova Javnog preduzeca”Srbijasume”, koje je nadlezno za staranje o Parku prirode.

Koristimo priliku da napomenemo da je izgradnja puta finansirana sredstvima Nacionalnog investicionog plana, a da je predstavnik Vlade na javnoj raspravi o izmenama prostornog plana opstine Knjazevac bio LjubomirJovanovic, kasnije uhapsen i pod istragom, pod optuzbom da je umesan u pronevere novca iz NIP u vezi sa izgradnjom turistickih objekata.

** ENGLISH TRANSLATION ** (below) bold and underline added where cosidered necessary.

Subject:

Filing a report after receiving information that in the strict Nature Reserve “Golema Reka” in the region of Stara Planina, largest protected Nature estate in Serbia of the I category, the disturbance and degradation of the natural surroundings and its characteristics has already taken place, including the destruction of plant communities, induction of erosion due to the unplanned execution of road construction/widening towards Babin Zub through the strictest Nature Reserve “Golema Reka”, where otherwise no construction or other human activities are allowed.

 The strict Nature Reserve “Golema Reka”  encloses the primeval  autochtonous forest community of  Mountain Beech Luzulo-Fagetum serbicum, with the purpose of  protecting the gene fund and is within the borders of the of the protected estate Nature Park “Stara Planina” on which survive relict, polydominant forest communities, composed of plant species of endemic and relict charactreistics and as specially valuable regions are designated as reserves, their names describing what they actually represent and are thus protected according to the laws dealing with Nature Protection in which it is precisely defined what degree of protection is offered due to their significance!!!

No construction, including that of roads is expected, except the maintainance of existing forest roads and it is forbidden to undertake any activities which may endanger and question the survival of these Nature reserves.

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We inform all officials that in the years 2007-2008, during the widening of roads, towards Babin Zub, the disturbance of the Nature estate resulted, including damage in the strict Nature Reserve “Golema Reka”. During road widening, the contractor spilled soil, rocks and debris along the road track as well as down the adjacent slopes covered with beech forests of the primeval type, thus threatening the integrity of the forest community, including the river flowing through (Golema Reka, meaning “Huge River”).

Disturbance of vegetation cover initiated the process of erosion which consequently threatens the quality of substrate and surface waters.

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We have reason to doubt that somone engaged in the described activities purposely, with evil intentions, moved the sign which informs about the degree of protection offered to this region  (moved the sign from the posts, returning the sign backwards so that it looks as if the Reserve “Golema Reka ends where its boundries should actually begin) solely with the intention of confusing the public and inspection officials.

We also believe not without reason (according to the fact that the works started before the change of the regional  regulatory plans for the Pirot and Knjazevac municipalities , these being changed afterwards, with the intention to legalize afterhand these illegal operations) that the works began without proper permissions and were not processed in accordance to the valid plan documents  at the time of the onset of activities.

We also have reason to doubt (witnessing the presence of trucks with lumber at the location), that from the region of the strict Nature Reserve “Golema Reka” and other protected areas of the “Stara Planina” Nature Park, trees are unlawfully cut and the lumber hauled out, avoiding the officials and violating the lumbering plans of the company “Srbijasume” (SerbiaForests) which is the official guardian of  the Nature Park “Stara Planina”.

We take the opportunity to mention that the construction of the road is financed from the budget of the National Investment Plan and that the representative of the Government at the public debate on the changes in the regional plan of the Knjazevac municipality was Mr. Ljubomir Jovanovic, later arrested and investigated under the accusation that he was engaged in the misuse of money from the above mentioned budget , all connected with the building of tourist objects.

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Photographic Evidence:

** Photographic Evidence – First Set (Above and Below)

– Nature Reserve “Golema Reka” ** 

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** Photographic Evidence – Second Set (Below) ** –

The region of Babin Zub, and include destruction of plant communities, induction of erosion due to the unplanned execution of road construction/widening towards Babin Zub through the strictest Nature Reserve “Golema Reka”, where otherwise no construction or other human activities are allowed.

Photographs taken on 23rd/24th February 2008.

Mid February – the time for Winter snows and skiing !

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