Can Roads And Russian Forests Coexist?

April 16, 2012, 12:37 pm

Can Roads and Russian Forests Coexist?

By ANDREW C. REVKIN

In 2009, in checking back on development patterns in the Amazon River basin, I examined this question: “Can Roads and Rain Forests Co-Exist?” Here’s a Dot Earth Postcard from Erik Hoffner, a writer and photographer associated with Orion Magazine, examining the same question in the context of Russia’s old forests and new highway plans. His missive is sent from northern California, not Russia, because he’s there to help honor Evgenia Chirikova, a Russian forest campaigner who’s the European honoree in this year’s Goldman Environmental Prize awards.

Hoffner, blogging for Grist in 2010, covered Chirikova’s work challenging government plans to route a highway from Moscow to Saint Petersburg through the Khimki Forest.

There’s much more on the Save Khimski Forest Web site and you can learn more about Chirikova’s accomplishments and continuing challenges in this video produced by the Goldman Prize organization:

Here’s Hoffner’s Dot Earth Postcard (I encourage readers to send their own when they see something worth sharing):

A friend and I took her and her husband out of San Francisco and north Muir Woods yesterday and to the beach where we gawked at redwoods and picked sea glass and shells. It felt great to give these people a break from the seriousness of their campaign back home.

This story is ongoing and unfolding: the Moscow road project has only been halted, and an activist from Evgenia’s group, Alexei Dmitriev, is in the hospital this morning after being attacked on his way to work. He’s in better shape than others, including journalists, who’ve suffered brain injuries and even amputations for their troubles. And the Moscow police? They can’t solve any of these cases…

They are very impressed with the park system here. We also spoke endlessly about grassroots organizing strategy and they picked my brain on how to build a national grassroots network in Russia, like the one I’ve managed for Orion magazine, to underpin a new Russian ecology movement. I hope I was a help…

Here’s her official Goldman Prize winner page – which will now be filed alongside the greatest modern grassroots environmentalists, like Wangari Mathaai. There’s a big story on her in the Washington Post today. Hopefully that will be just the start of a global wave of press.

Here’s an excerpt from the Post article and a link to the rest:

Chirikova’s life has changed dramatically since 2007, when she was walking in the woods near her apartment just outside the Moscow city limits and noticed red paint on numerous trees. She soon discovered the slashes marked the path of an $8 billion highway project from Moscow to St. Petersburg that would cut through the heart of the 2,500 acre forest.

She started writing letters, embarking on a journey that brought her into a series of brutal confrontations with police and assorted thugs and finally to a leading role in the protest movement that erupted in December over election fraud. Today, not only is she one of the very few women among the opposition leadership, but the environmental organization she started has become part of the foundation on which progressive Russians intend to build a new and engaged civic life. [Read the rest

( From New York Times)

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