|Posted by David Gordon|
Altai, nestled in southern Siberia to the west of Mongolia, to the east of Kazakhstan, and to the north of China, is an amazing area. It’s known for its wildlands and beauty, as the landscape climbs from Siberian pine forests to alpine plateaus.
The Ukok Plateau – a vast plateau that is recognized as a World Heritage Site – is one area that Pacific Environment and our partners our trying to save. The Russian government has announced plans to build a gas pipeline to China through the Altai, directly through the Ukok Plateau. The project is led by Gazprom (note that Putin just anointed the chairman of Gazprom as his successor to become president of Russia).
Indigenous Altaians are extremely worried about the pipeline. They point out that there are better routes for the pipeline that make more sense both economically and environmentally. These routes, though, go through Mongolia or Kazakhstan, and Russia wants a direct pipeline to China – which means going through the Ukok Plateau.
One of the reasons indigenous Altaians are so worried is that this is a sacred area for their culture. In addition to its environmental beauty, the Ukok Plateau is home to thousands of sacred sites. We’re supporting Maya Erlenbaeva and the Foundation for Sustainable Development of Altai, a local organization, to map these sacred sites to that they can demonstrate the value of the Plateau. Our friends at the Sacred Land Film Project visited Maya and the Foundation earlier this summer and produced a wonderful short video that shows Maya’s inspiring work.
Our efforts in Altai are going to ramp up in 2008, which promises to be an important year for deciding the fate of the Ukok Plateau. We’re hopeful that we can convince the Russian government and Gazprom that there’s a better alternative than the Ukok Plateau for building a gas pipeline to China! Click here to find out more about our campaign!
In the meantime, enjoy the video and the short journey it takes you to the sacred places of Altai in southern Siberia!