Although Avala Studios, the company implementing the Avala Film Park project, said on a number of occasions that there would be no deforestation activities in Košutnjak, the map sent by the company itself clearly indicates that the construction of a commercial-residential complex taking up nearly 600,000 square meters will obliterate large green spaces - a fact verified by experts as well. Moreover, the population density of this urban area, considered as ‘the lungs of Belgrade’, will increase as much as tenfold!
The Avala Film Park project, aimed, as the investors announce, at constructing state-of-the-art film studios and a commercial-residential complex, has caused a public outrage. Many activists from the association The Fight for Košutnjak gathered yesterday outside Sava Centar, where the Belgrade City Council was in session, demanding that a special session of the Council be held on the issue of Košutnjak.
‘Ten times less’
Anđelka Jevtović, President of the Association of Landscape Architects of Serbia, said for Kurir that, regardless of what the investor claims, the plan made available for preliminary public review reveals that this project will result in the reduction of the public green spaces from the current 34.7 hectares to a surface area ten times less in size, amounting to only 3.4 hectares. ‘The plan clearly reveals that large green spaces are to be removed in order to construct the complex. That means an increase in the number of local residents from the current 854 to as many as 7,890 – a tenfold hike in the area’s population density. You would also have to add to that those coming to the area to work. All this will impact on traffic congestion and air quality. Belgrade has in recent years been affected by the evident increase in air pollution, so what it needs is reforestation, not a reduction of the green spaces. Košutnjak is a well-loved picnic area, so nothing can make up for the cutting of the existing trees, because you cannot plant fifty-year-old trees,’ Jevtović said. Marko Stojčić, City Urbanist, said that, ‘The City of Belgrade will not allow any high-quality natural areas to be jeopardized.’
‘The initial stage’
‘We are in the initial stage of plan development at the moment. As envisaged, in this stage all the relevant institutions, both state-level and city-level, should provide their opinions regarding the draft survey. These include the ministries of culture and defence, the Radio Television of Serbia, the state and city environmental protection institutes, the cultural heritage preservation institutes, the city secretariats, and other institutions. Only when all these institutions state their opinion will the Urban Planning Bureau provide their proposal,’ Stojčić said, adding that, ‘Belgrade has not yet had its say. This is only the investor’s initiative, which is no more than the first ten percent of the work.’
Avala Studios: ‘We will reduce the number of trees.’
Avala Studios said for Kurir that the Avala Film Park project only has a stake in 40 out of 86.8 hectares, which is the total covered by the Detailed Site Plan. However, they add that there are only seven hectares of high-quality forest in the 40 hectares total:
‘We will examine the tree quality in the rest of this area that we have. Whatever is of high quality will be kept. Swampland, allergenic plants, and valueless indigenous trees will be reduced, but there will also be new trees that we will plant. There will be more residents, but that will be regulated.’