European Wilderness Society

Enlargement of the Wilderness in the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve

The Carpathian Biosphere Reserve in Ukraine is already hosting several Wilderness areas included in the European Wilderness Network. To achieve this, the management team of this area invested a lot of time, commitment and resources to meet the European Wilderness Quality Standard. This process also includes the implementation of recommendations that are a part of the Wilderness Audit Reports, including Wilderness enlargement.

These recommendations listed in the International Wilderness Audit Reports also include the enlargement of already Internationally Audited Wilderness Areas. Among them: Uholka-Shyrokyy Luh Wilderness, Kuziy-Trybushany WILDForest and Maramarosh Wilderness. Moreover, additional Wilderness areas are currently discussed between the European Wilderness Society and managers of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve. There is for example a currently ongoing preparation phase to carry out the International Wilderness Audit in the proposed Chornohora Wilderness.

Thousands of hectares of enlarged potential Wilderness

In the last years, the Ukrainian Carpathians are exposed to massive logging exploitation and mass tourism. In spite of this pressure, the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve and the surroundings still host several thousand hectares of old and virgin forests. To protect this heritage, there are several ongoing projects in this area.

One of these projects is named Support to Nature Protected Areas in Ukraine. The project objective is to improve the management effectiveness of selected Protected Areas with a support of local communities. Consequently, one of the activities of this project aims to preserve unique natural territories with old and virgin forests. As a part of this process, a set of maps and documentation was prepared for the enlargement of Carpathian Biosphere Reserve. The result of this process is that the territory of this protected area will be enlarged by ca 8 300 hectares overall.

Besides expanding the territory of Carpathian Biosphere Reserve this process also includes an effort to transfer ca 9 500 hectares of forest to a different authority. This forest is currently managed by state forestry agencies or local communities. Forests will be transferred to the responsibility of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve management team. Due to historical reasons this large area inside Carpathian Biosphere Reserve is currently not in a full management competence of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve. Thus, the current situation doesn’t allow to fully and effectively implement management and Wilderness stewardship on this area. This step, however, will provide the managers of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve with a full responsibility to manage the area and become real stewards of the Wilderness.

Uholka Mala Wilderness © All rights reserved
Uholka Mala Wilderness © All rights reserved

Marvellous achievement

Following this proces, a formal proposal of enlargement was just recently approved by the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine and also by the Transcarpathian Regional State Administration. This proposal focused on the expansion of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve, including the enlargement of the current Wilderness. Currently, the Ministry of Ecology is preparing Appeal to the Cabinet of Ministers for final approval of the enlargement. If everything follows this plan and the land users and relevant state authorities support this process, the next step will be declaration of this new protected area by the Decree of the President of Ukraine.

As a result of this process, the total area of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve will reach ca 66 300 hectares (current size is ca 58 000 hectares). Simultaneously, this process creates very real potential to enlarge already designated Wilderness!

Enlargement is a demanding process

nlargement of already audited Wilderness is a common recommendation of Wilderness Quality Audit. Audited Wilderness areas in the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve are also such a case. Therefore, the European Wilderness Society very carefully follows the ongoing process.

Through Wilderness Monitoring we provide support to our partners in the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve,

said Deputy Director of European Wilderness Society.

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