Events and Newsletters -
Spring 2003 - Issue 19 |
Global Response Action Alert!
The Russian oil giant, Yukos, wants to build a Russia-China oil pipeline right through Tunkinskii National Park, south of Lake Baikal, in clear violation of the Russian Law on Protected Territories. The park protects a pristine taiga forest ecosystem dominated by Siberian pine, and over 200 mineral springs. Endangered species include the snow leopard, Siberian mountain goat, black stork, mountain goose, golden eagle and white-tailed eagle.
For the indigenous Buryats, Soyots and Evenks, who herd sheep and farm in the Tunka Valley, the whole region is sacred, and many consider pipeline construction an affront to their culture, history and beliefs. Yukos plans to build the pipeline within 200 meters of specific sites that are sacred to the Buryats, who suffered persecution under Stalin for their traditional practices of Buddhism and shamanism.
Pipelines in the National Park would spoil its natural beauty, and a single oil spill affecting the springs could destroy the region’s growing tourism industry. Seismic activity, high mountain passes, extreme weather and geography pose serious challenges for pipeline construction, maintenance and security. A service road would be built through vast roadless wilderness areas, opening access for illegal hunting, fishing, mining and logging. Oil spills in the Tunka Valley could spread downstream toward Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest lake. Protected as a World Heritage Site, Lake Baikal is known as the “Galapagos of Russia” for its outstanding variety of endemic plants and animals, including the world’s only freshwater seal, the nerpa.
Russian environmental organizations and the Tunka Valley communities are asking for international support in their efforts to protect Tunkinskii National Park and uphold conservation laws. Please write a letter today. See the Global Response web page for details: