Gazaryan 說，「而且建設的滑雪纜車與坡道以及道路和工程建設等，將會位在Kavkazsky 和 Teberdinsky 兩處俄羅斯高加索地區的自然保留區內。」
但是去年12月時，北高加索度假村公司要求，高加索聯邦保留區「應使 Lagonaki 生物圈保留區與阿迪格共和國特別經濟區的計畫相配合。」
The Russian government is preparing to allow construction of a cluster of ski resorts and roads in the Caucasus region that will alter one of Europe's few untouched mountain wilderness areas. The development is expected to impact two biosphere nature reserves, two national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and a World Heritage Site.
Previously, the construction of tourist infrastructure in protected areas has been either illegal or restricted by Russian federal environmental laws.
"Russian nature resources and environment ministry recently gave the Russian government a list of construction projects currently allowed to be placed in nature reserves," says Suren Gazaryan of the nonprofit Environmental Watch on North Caucasus.
Gazaryan expects that a decree formally authorizing this list will soon be signed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. By doing so, Putin will be signing "a death warrant" for Russia's Western Caucasus World Heritage Site, said the conservationist.
Also, "This will allow construction of ski lifts and slopes, as well as road and engineering infrastructure, to be built on the territory of two biosphere nature reserves, Kavkazsky and Teberdinsky, in the Russian Caucasus," Gazaryan says.
Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999, the Western Caucasus site has what the UN agency calls "a remarkable diversity of geology, ecosystems and species. It is of global significance as a centre of plant diversity ... containing extensive tracts of undisturbed mountain forests unique on the European scale."
UNESCO says that to date the site is one of the few large mountain areas of Europe that has not experienced significant human impact. But, says the agency, "Construction of more than 250 facilities for the 2014 Winter Olympics is heavily impinging on the site and region."
The ski resort project has been named Altitude 5642, for the height of Elbrus, the highest mountain in the Caucasus. The developer's goal is to host the first visitors by 2014.
Project Altitude 5642 developer, North Caucasus Resorts, plans five mountain ski resorts:
The planned total length of ski runs will be more then 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) and they will have 214 ski lifts. The hotels will accommodate 83,000 people. North Caucasus Resorts calculates that 150,500 people will visit the resorts each day during ski season, and each year the North Caucasus tourist cluster will be visited by five to 10 million tourists. The project is estimated to bring over 330,000 jobs to the region.
The total cost of the ski project is estimated at 451 billion rubles (US$15 billion). The project is financed by a public-private partnership. Government plans to invest via NCR 60 billion rubles (US$2 billion) in transport and utilities infrastructure, while private business is financing the facilities of resort infrastructure, according to North Caucasus Resorts.
North Caucasus Resorts has denied on several occasions that construction will impact nature reserves. "Unfortunately," says Gazaryan, "these were empty promises."
UNESCO says that, "There were until 2008 no roads in the area, but to promote tourism and secure an outlet on the Black Sea, the Adygheyan authorities are to construct a road across the Reserve from Maikop to the coast at Dagomys which will cross the Fisht-Oshtenskiy Massif, the area generally held to be the genetic centre of Caucasian biodiversity, and will cut deer and bear migration routes. No environmental impact assessment was made and local conservationists were not officially consulted."
Instead of planning the resorts outside of protected areas to make these structures legal, Russian authorities changed the legislation governing protected areas.
The Russian parliament, dominated by the United Russia party, ensured that amendments to the current law on protection of nature reserves make it possible to build in biosphere reserves, passing them on November 2, 2011.
"Northern Caucasus Resorts said in a statement that "the legislation that as far as possible ensures conservation of the reserved areas and at the same time provides conditions for the effective development of the touristic zones."
The company said changes to the law "were coordinated with environmentalists" after an earlier version of the bill was opposed by a coalition of 37 nongovernmental organizations, who sent an appeal to President Dmitry Medvedev against that version of the draft law.
Negotiations last October that included environmentalists produced an acceptable version. "The new version of amendments accords with most of the claims of environmentalists," WWF Russia said in a statement in November.
"We managed to find formulations that allow the development of environmental management in the biosphere ranges - that is their primary goal, but it does not entail damaging effects as the previous bill," said Igor Chestin, director of WWF-Russia.
But in December, North Caucasus Resorts Company demanded that the Caucasus federal reserve "ensure that the Lagonaki Biosphere Reserve is in accordance with plans for the special economic zone in the Adygea Republic."
"Appetites of the company clearly grown since summer of 2010, as the new plans, which are now available to Environmental Watch on North Caucasus, show that development will impact wild nature even more than before," says Gazaryan. "There are more ski lifts and slopes inside the reserve, and the new project is even more destructive."
Gazaryan said, "The plans are a clear signal that the Russian government does not intend to follow UNESCO's recommendations to abandon development plans on the Lagonaki plateau."
Greenpeace says the new law and accompanying executive decree governing construction in protected areas, "will have a huge negative impact on more than 40 biosphere reserves and other protected areas throughout Russia."