The WWF Ukraine is reporting that one of the last remaining steppe areas in the Ukraine is being destroyed by local farmers contracted by the Ukrainian Ministry of defence. The 5200 ha protected Tarutyns’kyj Steppe is a sanctuary to many endangered Red listed animals and plants.
WWF Ukraine is reporting that the ministry of defence is not even the legal owner of the former military training ground now being plowed by local farmers. After being abandoned by the military the area was reclassified as a protected area by regional authorities to save one of the largest steppes in Ukraine. It is being claimed by local NGOs that the Ukrainian ministry of defence plan is not to conduct military exercises in the area, but to profit from the commercial exploitation of the land.
Meanwhile, tractors have been plowing day and night and according to local reports have already destroyed 1500 ha of the total of 5200 ha of the protected area. They were stopped on the night of 3 November 2016 after activists physically blocked them. The Tarutyno administration has already addressed the court in order to stop the plowing.
“Today, less than 2% of the initial steppe ecosystems in Ukraine exist. This is one of the last preserved steppe areas of such size in Europe, and it is our unique chance to take advantage of it and make this area a pearl of tourism”, said Olena Tarasova-Krasiieva, national coordinator of WWF in Ukraine.”
The campaign to protect the reserve is led by NGOs like Centre of Regional Studies, Environment.People.Law, WWF in Ukraine and others working on the development of the Emerald Network under the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and also by members of the Anti-Corruption Committee of Ukrainian parliament.