Massive vegetation cutting in the residential courtyard. Many years of efforts, the contribution of the soul and heart of people in the greening of the site were destroyed in a few days. One of the residents, 70-year-old Alexei Popov, is an ardent eco-activist who is outraged by the authority’s actions. Despite numerous conflicts with high-ranking officials, he continues to fight to protect the territory. Ekolog.uz visited the courtyard to find more about illegal logging from the resident himself.
Aleksey Popov is a doctor by profession, but at the same time he is an eco-activist. The main character is a native of Russia, born in Moscow. He came to Tashkent first to visit his father in 1967. After some time, Alexey and his family moved permanently to the capital.
“There was a lot of greenery in Tashkent, it was literally possible to hide from the sun, it was cool, the irrigation system worked well, the canals were clean. One didn’t feel hot. Whether it was alleys, parks, streets along the squares, there were a lot of green zones.
When we arrived in Tashkent, we settled in the block where people came from Russia and Belarus. Therefore, they tried to plant a lot of greenery in the yard. The tree caps were large and therefore there were many birds of various kinds. The family that lived above us brought a whole car of soil, black soil, seedlings. They planted quince, lilac, peaches, apricots with the whole family. They looked after them all. There were also canals nearby, local residents planted bushes and seedlings along the entire bank.”
First conflict. Eco control: Forest is not allowed!
The local eco-control department told the residents that the landscaping of the yard turned out to be superfluous, allegedly the residents grow forest and that this is not permitted.
Number of destroyed trees in 2020
Based on UPL 24 data, over 7,800 trees were destroyed in Uzbekistan in 2020, 4,384 of which belonged to rare, and the remaining 3,428 to valuable tree species.
. In addition, shrubs were also illegally cut down. In 2020, 3960 facts of illegal cutting of trees and shrubs were recorded. The total fine for violators for illegal logging amounted to 4.5 billion soums, however, the amount of damage to the flora amounted to about 15.3 billion soums, which is 3 times more than the amount of fines.
The famous «Local Arboretum» — Before and After
According to Aleksey, there was a fence around the territory, it covered the entire area. A chestnut tree grew that grew in the yard, which was eventually cut down. There was also a large bush that covered it all up to a pillar, large tree crowns that covered and created shade, and many currant bushes that were planted along the building.
“Everything was green. Here is how it was and how it became. This is the result of such a barbaric attitude towards nature. After they broke the fence, it became like this»
What influenced you so much that you began to think about nature?
“The fact is that even as a child I have always cherished environment. I tried not to break branches, to protect nature. Trees, after all, they are like people, they have souls too... It was awful to find out such an attitude to nature by the authorities. After all, you know how difficult it is to grow a plant, it takes time, fertilizer, how a person should care. There was a time when special government departments used to come and pollinate plants and trees. By the end of the 90s, all this stopped and, of course, our trees began to fade. Tree growing- is a whole science, belief and endurance. It’s also clean air.»
Second conflict. Beautification department is the main destroyer.
The second conflict arose against the backdrop of cutting down the chestnut tree between Aleksey and the chairman of the mahalla. The chestnut tree grew to about the waist, then representatives of the mahal came, broke and trampled everything.
Third conflict. Machinery against nature.
The third conflict occurred because of the machinery that was brought to cut down all the greenery in the territory. They brought a grader and a chainsaw. According to Aleksey, the driver of the heavy grader shamelessly began to plough into small trees and even jeered at people, because they could do nothing against the heavy machinery.
What would you advise?
“The khokimiyat should not give orders for tree cutting, destruction, but should consult and work with the residents together. Where are the garbage cans along the roads? Why is garbage everywhere in ditches? Why is the hokimiyat not doing this? Instead, they are engaged in cutting down. Where is the patriotism of the hokimiyat? They are the local who were born in Uzbekistan, is it really possible?”
“I know that with our new architects and ill-conceived developments, I felt that everything was going to be demolished. Therefore, I decided to walk around in time and take pictures of the mahalla in the spring, while everything is in bloom and there is a lot of greenery. I tried to photograph while there was still a creek. I took a number of pictures in order to make a photo exhibition later, this is my main goal. I want to show the wonderful time, when people still appreciated nature. I do this as a keepsake not only for myself but also for the residents of this mahalla. I will be extremely happy to invite these people to the exhibition so that they will be able recall their past.
Artists and college students used to come here and were eager to paint pictures of this beautiful green landscape. Another reason that I want to make this exhibition is to make people nostalgic about the beautiful, how our great-grandfathers, grandfathers cherished everything. They valued and tried to leave a memory for the next generation. I hope that the kids who are now 5 years old will not be the same barbarians as the “uncles and aunts”.
Over the past three years, the average annual number of pollutants emitted into the atmosphere by the republic has increased by 2.427 million tons, including 325.46 thousand tons in the city of Tashkent. According to statistics, the number of organizations polluting the atmospheric air in the capital is 1323, the number of sources of which is 6786, the number of sources of which is 4185, the number of sources equipped with dust and gas cleaning equipment is 725. As of January 1, 2021, there are 479,544 vehicles in the city of Tashkent funds owned by individuals. The total area of the city of Tashkent is 35,630 hectares, of which the total area of green spaces is 757 hectares, the area of green spaces (lawns) is 225 hectares (2.7%).
Founder of Ecolog. Uz website, Nargis Kosimova- “Tree cutting also affects the temperature. According to statistics, a person can inhale and exhale 24 liters of air per minute from 7200 to 8600 in 5-6 hours. According to research, it takes 22 trees per day to meet human oxygen needs. As a result of cutting down trees, we may be exposed to short-term or long-term risks. One tree absorbs almost 22 kg of carbon dioxide per year. During the life of a tree, it absorbs about 1000 kg of carbon dioxide and releases 120 kg of oxygen per year.
Trees absorb the noise generated by the movement of vehicles. Trees provide shade. The temperature in their shade is constantly lower by 2-3 degrees. Trees are a place for birds, small animals, insects. That’s why cutting down trees is the core of the crime.»
Cutting down trees is one of the main causes of global warming.
Based on the words of the climatologist Erkin Abdulahatov, global warming forecasts are generally consistent with reality throughout the world. In Uzbekistan, this indicator is two-level. The seasons are unusual: warm winters or sudden cold in spring, an increase in the number of summer days.
The climate has become warmer due to the absorption of sunlight and its return to the surface at night. According to forecasts, by 2050 in Uzbekistan the temperature of hot air will rise to 3-4 degrees. At the end of the year, it will rise by 4 degrees worldwide. At temperatures between 3 and 4 degrees, humanity may be exposed to more dangerous climatic phenomena.
Project author: Avazkhon Khaidarov