Economics vs. Environment: Will an Expensive Ski Resort Be Built in Ukraine's Pristine Carpathians?
27 November, 2019

Ukrainian activists are protecting the Carpathian ridge of Svydovets from the developer – a ski resort. The head of the Zakarpattya region says that the project will benefit the region economically. And he assures that the ideal option is to balance the economy with the environment. Hromadske tried to shed some light on the issue.

Orest Del Sol is a Frenchman of Italian descent. He moved from Paris to the Transcarpathian village Nyzhnie Selyshche (“Lower Village”) in 1994. He was one of the founders of the artisan cooperative Longo Mai in Ukraine. This movement was formed in France in the wake of the 1968 protests. Later, it turned into a global movement. Longo Mai members give up living in big cities and hired labor and move to villages to undertake farming together.

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With the help of other Ukrainian and international environmental organizations, Orest created the “Free Svydovets” movement, which opposes the construction of a large ski resort in Svydovets, which the Bukovel tourist complex wants to build.

Orest Del Sol (pictured) is the co-founder of the “Free Svydovets” movement opposing the construction of a large ski resort in Svydovets, Orest Del Sol, September 12, 2019.  Photo: Viktoria Sloboda / hromadske

The first to announce the idea of this project was Hennadiy Moskal, the former head of the Zakarpattya regional state administration. “We have reached a principled agreement with the owners of Bukovel — the resort will be extended in Zakarpattya. According to the agreements, about 60 hotel structures of various types, 33 suspended cableways, 230 kilometers of ski slopes will be constructed in the Rakhiv district,” Moskal said.

Carpathian mountain range Svydovets on September 12, 2019. Photo: Viktoria Sloboda / hromadske

According to the State Geocadastre, the territories of the Svydovets mountain range belong to the state, so the administration of the region is engaged in the development of the project. The current head of the Zakarpattya regional state administration, Ihor Bondarenko, assures that the project does not only take into account economic interests. “The project is being developed globally by Bukovel, which will move to Transcarpathia. Our position is this: we will see what the investment will be, to what extent it will not hinder the development of the region, but rather strengthen it. It is necessary to preserve nature as we see it now. If we do it all and can balance it, it will be a positive outcome,” Bondarenko says.

Carpathian mountain range Svydovets, September 12, 2019. Photo: Viktoria Sloboda / hromadske

Part of Svydovets is agricultural land used by the locals. To change their purpose, Tyachiv and Rakhiv district administrations in 2017 held public hearings in the villages of the district. The locals voted in favor of the project. But several residents appealed to the Zakarpattya District Court for alleged violation of the voting procedure. The case has reached the Supreme Court, the activists are waiting for a date to be set for the hearing.

The regional administration has submitted documents for environmental impact assessment, which should determine whether the construction of the resort will cause environmental damage to the region.

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/By Vika Sloboda

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