Name: Iris del Sol
Could Ski Resorts Coexist with Climate Change?
My name is Iris Del Sol, I am 23 years old. I was born in a small village in Carpathian mountains and I always was close to the nature. While I was studying environmental law in university my father’s friend called me and asked for help. In his village a project of a huge ski resort was announced.
The planned Svydovets recreational complex includes a ski resort with 23 ski lifts and 230 km of ski slopes, 390 apartment buildings, 60 hotels, 120 restaurants, 10 shopping centres, 17 rental equipment units, 2 bank branches, 3 fitness centres and 5 multi-storeyed parking spaces for 6,000 cars. Altogether, the infrastructure is designed to accommodate 22,000 people and 5,000 employees at the same time. The total area of the ski resort would cover 1,430 hectares, whereby 800 hectares are dedicated to housing, commercial, economic and recreational infrastructure.
And all this infrastructure in one of Europe’s most pristine forest landscapes and a biodiversity hotspot in the Carpathian Mountains – Svydovets. The massif is located in the Eastern Carpathians in Western Ukraine. The undisturbed ecosystem is partly inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its exceptional biodiversity and primeval beech forests. Svydovets also includes two sites of the Emerald Network of the Bern Convention and critical parts of ecological network of the Transcarpathian region (Zakarpatska Oblast). It is home to at least 93 endangered species of Red Data book of Ukraine (2009) including the European brown bear and the Eurasian lynx. More than half of Ukraine’s glacial lakes are located on the mountain range. The massif provides the hydrological regime of the region and contains the source of the international Tysa river which is a main tributary of the Danube river. (Read more about the project: https://www.bmf.ch/upload/berichte/bmf_report_the_svydovets_case.pdf).
Therefore we went to Svydovets massif, with a fact-finding mission. We want this territory to be as wild as it’s now, and we don’t want this beautiful landscape to be ruined by a new commercial city. In 2017 we created an environmental movement, called Free Svydovets. In Ukraine it is one of the first independent environmental movement, which unites different NGOs, activists, artists and people who love nature. Very quickly we realised that in Ukraine it’s not easy to be an environmental activist, because of the corruption and security reasons. That’s why for us it’s important to be transparent in all what we do to protect activists. Our main goal is to make sure that Ukrainian government stop this project and protect the Svydovets massif, by creating there a natural reserve. For that we used lots of methods: we created petition, we wrote letters to the Ukrainian President, I went with Free Svydovets delegation to the European Parliament and European Commission...
For me the success of our campaign is in the fact that in 3 years they haven’t started building the ski resort (just one road was build) and other activists in the region took an example from our campaign and started their own. After 3 years of fighting Svydovets hosted a Green Camp, where activists and NGOs from all Ukraine have joined the Free Svydovets movement.
The main idea of Free Svydovets is a fight against urbanization, privatization of mountains, illegal logging on the massif, and make sure that floods don’t destroys again houses and lives of local people. Free Svydovets it’s about wilderness and nature! At the same time, what is the economic feasibility of building ski resorts in conditions of climate change around the world?
Iris Del Sol
Coordinator of Free Svydovets
Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdDjJuFvuLQ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIg-m_Qw0u4