land in sight In Ukraine Tunnel of Love is the

land in sight! In Ukraine, Tunnel of Love is the scene of dreams of unromantic origin

50º45’N, 26º02’L
tunnel of love
Klevan, Rivne, Ukraine

Odek is a reference in wood production in northwestern Ukraine. Recognized by the Materialprüfungsanstalt Eberswalde, a kind of German Inmetro, and with two ISO 9000 certificates, the plant, founded in 1881 when Ukraine was still part of the Russian Empire, specializes in birch plywood and soft plywood.

The approximately 1,400 employees, who are responsible for an annual production of 85,000 cubic meters (at least until before the war), work with the most modern machines from companies such as the Finnish Raute, the Swiss Steinemann and the German Holzma. according to the European Business Association. The raw materials are also firstclass: birch trees from the best forest areas in Ukraine and Russia, phenolic films from Finnish and Spanish manufacturers, Polish resins. The credit for services lies in the 30 or so European countries that import Odek parts.

But rest assured that the vast majority of people who come to see the hauling of this timber in action have no idea of ​​its quality or give a damn or even care about the material being loaded. It could be lumber, iron ore, potatoes, whatever. Everyone is there for the “Tunnel of Love”.

Winter in the natural tunnel of love by railroad.  Klevan, Ukraine.  Picturesque frozen forest with snowy spruce and pine trees.  winter forest.  .  High quality photo  high resolution image  Andrii Medvediuk/Getty Images/iStockphoto  Andrii Medvediuk/Getty Images/iStockphoto

In winter, snow changes the landscape of the tunnel.

Credit: Andrii Medvediuk/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Enclosed by rows of trees, the railway line forming a green tunnel (in summer) is a strange and unexpected tourist attraction. Ahead of last year’s Russian invasion, there was a significant flow of visitors to this littleknown corner of Ukraine, drawn by images circulating on the internet.

The story begins in this successful factory. Founded more than 140 years ago in tiny Orziv, Odek processes birch, a widespread and commercially widespread tree in the northern hemisphere, into plywood used in the housing, furniture, etc. industries.

A military base was nestled in the forest on a section of the railway line connecting the manufacturer to the vast European market. In the paranoid times of the Cold War, a hidden Soviet base might not even be involved in anything very strategic, but it could never allow passersby and rumors to sniff out what was going on there.

Hiding was more important than what happened. Therefore, the military planted trees along the rail line to prevent the transport of equipment from drawing unnecessary attention.

Over time, due to the constant passage of the train, the trees were pruned, giving the appearance of a tunnel. It is ironic that a green corridor of living trees guards the passage of dead trees, which are fragmented, condensed, and transformed into objects that will find multiple uses in human life today.

Over the past decade, the socalled “Tunnel of Love” has garnered attention on social media. Train drivers began to live with the presence of tourists along the railway line. Some approached dangerously, like a Japanese woman who broke her hip in 2015.

According to a report by the Radio Free Europe website, the tunnel is no longer under official state protection. In 2013, the factory decided to cut down a number of trees that were obstructing traffic. There were vigorous protests, and Odek, realizing the measure might cause more headaches for his directors than relief for drivers, decided not to give what had become an attraction not (quite literally) a life of its own.

Putin’s war

Panoramic view of train in beautiful natural green railway tunnel at sunrise in summer  Stock Photo  Anastasiia Shavshyna/Getty Images  Anastasiia Shavshyna/Getty Images

The tunnel in summer with renewed vegetation

Image: Anastasiia Shavshyna/Getty Images

Orziv is in the West, the part historically more closely associated with Central and Western Europe than with Russia. It’s far from the Russianheld areas, but not so much from the war: in March and June last year, the Rivne province, where the city is located, was bombed. More than 20 people died.

The war affected the world economy, particularly in the strategic sectors where Russia and Ukraine excel, such as the production of wheat and natural gas. But industries without the same geopolitical strain also suffered. This is the case with wood.

Half of the European Union’s timber imports come from Russia, Belarus (its ally, which is also subject to international sanctions) and Ukraine. Together, the three countries hold almost a quarter of the world market.

After all, Russia has the largest forest area in the world at 8.1 million square kilometers the Amazon may be the largest tropical forest in the world, but that’s why the “tropical” should be mentioned: the boreal forest, which occupies most of Scandinavia and Russia ( where it is known as Taiga) is the largest biome on Earth.

A railway track in the spring forest.  Tunnel of Love, Green Trees and the Railway  High Resolution Image  Ivantsov/Getty Images/iStockphoto  Ivantsov/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Train drives in the tunnel of love

Credit: Ivantsov/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The war disrupted the timber market on the continent. In 2022, Western European construction companies reported that prices for solid oak and birch plywood had doubled in some places. The state of supply chains became a major concern. The director of an English furniture manufacturer said the wood needed for some projects was more expensive than the company would charge for the project itself.

In some places, wood turned to gold. Shortly after the invasion, the European Union and the United Kingdom banned imports of Russian timber as part of their sanctions package. If the conflict goes on for a long time, you will know the consequences. The tunnel of love can be filled at the end. Not for love, but for the emptiness created by an economic meltdown where trains stop running and tourists stop traveling. At least it would be a green void.

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