International fight for Svydovets continues

There were many important events in December 2018 that contribute to the protection of the unique mountain range Svydovets in the Ukrainian Carpathians. For example, on December 18th, two of them took place in Austria and Ukraine.

Please also read: Svydovets Massif needs our support

Events in Vienna and Kyiv

One of the events was the Carpathian Convention Implementation Committee in Vienna, Austria. More details about the whole event and participation of the European Wilderness Society will follow soon.

Priorly, on 7th of December, the meeting “Mountain range Svydovets: development and threats outlook” of the sub-committee on interaction with civil society of the Government of Ukraine took place in Kyiv.

Since the number of appeals and requests to the Government of Ukraine became critical, it is time to react,

Ihor Lutsenko, member of the Government Committee on issues of prevention and counteraction to corruption.

Representatives of scientists and community, as well as representative of the Ministry of Environment and Natural resources of Ukraine participated in the meeting.

Advantages and risks of Svydovets Management

In addition, the second event took place in Lviv, Ukraine and consolidated Ukrainian scientists, researchers and concerned community. The seminar “Management of the Central Svydovets: advantages and risks” was conducted at the biology faculty of Lviv National University and was initiated by Institute of Ecology of Carpathians, Ukraine.  

Participants were discussing, amongst other topics:

  • Uniqueness of the ecosystem, fauna and flora diversity of Svydovets massif
  • Rare and instinct animals and plants
  • Environmental creation role of the Central Svydovets ecosystems (water-regulation, anti-erosion, climate-regulation, CO2 deposit etc.)
  • Ecosystem services of the Svydovets
  • Urbanisation of the Svydovets, based on development of mega-ski resort “Svydovets”: advantages and nature conservation risks.

The discussion was very diverse and fruitful. Resolution of the event will be available soon.

Taras Mykytchak, senior scientific specialist of the Institute of Ecology of Carpathians

Carpathian Convention and Free Svydovets

The Framework Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians (Carpathian Convention) is the only multi-level governance mechanism, covering the whole of the Carpathian area. Besides the Alpine Convention, it is the second sub-regional treaty-based regime for the protection and sustainable development of a mountain region worldwide.

Therefore, the initiative Free Svydovets submitted an Appeal to support protection of this important natural area to the Convention. On behalf of Free Svydovets Roman Cherepanyn, scientist and lecturer at Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpathian National University, Ukraine informed the audience about:

  • Nature conservation value of Svydovets
  • Natural objects of national and international importance
  • Threats on national and international level
  • Climate Change and mega-resort impacts
  • Regional Development alternatives
  • Environment impact assessment

Appeal Resolution

Among others, the Appeal Resolution is referring to the Carpathian Convention Secretariat and Parties to support defining the conditions and criteria. This includes relevant remedial and compensatory measures, under which projects of new ski resorts and similar recreational complexes  can be authorised for construction in Carpathians, particularly at the territory of Svydovets.

We are calling Secretariat and participants of the Carpathian Convention Implementation Committee to adopt the Resolution of the FREE Svydovets Appeal,

Roman Cherepanyn on behalf of FREE Svydovets

The complete text of the Appeal can be found below:

The example of Svydovets recreational complex development is a bright example of community participation in the decision-making process.

I hope this time the Svydovets case will be included to the Implementation Committee Report and will be stewarded, since this is the only example in Carpathian Convention of public real participation (Article 13). And the public monitoring is already started in the framework of the Eastern Partnership Project “Environment Assessment Watch”

We also inviting  Carpathian Convention parties and the Secretariat to support proper conduction of the Environment Impact Assessment of the recreational complex Svydovets and to support initiative group Free Svydovets,

Tamara Malkova, head of NGO “Green Dosier”

Our support

European Wilderness Society visited the Svydovets massif again this summer. Therefore, we also understand the importance to protect this beautiful and ecologically important natural area. This is also a reason why we are constantly supporting the Initiative Group Free Svydovets for already more than a year.

As our main office is located in the Alps, we can observe the effects of climate change to mountain ecosystems. This also includes the emerging challenges for ski-resorts, in particular in lower altitudes,

Verena Gruber, European Wilderness Society

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Sign the Open Letter to the German Ministry

Join more than 70 forest experts demanding a radical change in the German forest management system.

Open Letter to the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture

Federal Ministry of
Food and Agriculture
Minister Julia Klöckner
11055 Berlin

Dear Minister Klöckner,

The current situation of the forest in Germany is worrying. It is a forest crisis not only driven by climate change. The current crisis management of the forestry industry is backward-looking and harmful to the forest. The declaration announced at the meeting of ministers in Moritzburg can be described as a `Moritzburg declaration of bankruptcy´. We call on the state forestry industry to, instead of expensive rushed actions, finally carry out an expert analysis of its own work and to involve all stakeholders in this process. What is called for is a consistent departure from plantation forestry and a radical shift towards a management that treats the forest as an ecosystem and no longer as a wood factory.

On 1stAugust 2019, five forestry ministers of CDU and CSU-led states adopted a so-called “master plan” for the forest in Germany, which was affected by heat, bark beetles, fire and drought. As of 2020, the federal government is to make 800 million euros available as a reaction to climate change. This money is to be used to repair the damage caused, reforest the damaged areas and carry out `climate-adapted´ forest conversion – including the use of non-native tree species that have not yet been cultivated in the forest. Research should therefore focus on on tree species suitability and forest plant breeding in the future – keyword: `Climate-adapted forest of the future 2100´.

Remarkably, the damage caused primarily by the extreme drought of 2018 is attributed solely to climate change. Climate change is meeting a forest that is systemically ill due to the planting of non-native tree species, species poverty, monocultures, uniform structure, average low age, mechanical soil compaction, drainage etc. A healthy, resistant forest would look differently! The master plan emphasizes: sustainable, multifunctional and `active´ forest management remains indispensable – and thereby means that its unnatural state cannot be changed. Reference is made to the `carbon storage and substitution effects´ of wood products. The use of wood, e.g. in the construction industry, should be increased and thus the demand for wood should be further fueled – while knowing that the forest in Germany already cannot meet this demand. In fact, forest owners are suffering from poor timber prices due to an oversupply of trunk wood on the world market.

All these demands make clear: the current forestry strategy, which has been practiced for decades, should not change in principle. The concept is simple: cut down trees – plant trees. At best, the `design´ of the future artificial forests consisting of perfectly calculated tree species mixtures, that are believed to survive climate change without damages, can be changed. In all seriousness, the intention is to continue selling the public a so-called `future strategy´ to save the forest. This strategy seamlessly follows the model of a wood factory, that is met with general rejection and must be regarded as a failure in view of the coniferous plantations that are currently collapsing on a large scale. An essential part of the forests that have currently died is exactly the part that was reestablished in 1947 as coniferous monocultures on a much larger area than today. There is only one difference to the situation at the time: considerable amounts of money are to be made available from taxes for forest owners this time.

Climate change is progressing, and this, without a doubt, has massive impacts on all terrestrial ecosystems, including forests. To pretend that the last two years of drought alone caused the disaster is too cheap. On closer inspection, the disaster is also the result of decades of a forestry focused on conifers – in a country that was once naturally dominated by mixed deciduous forests. People do not like to admit that for more than 200 years they have relied on the wrong species of commercial tree (spruce) and have also created artificial, ecologically highly unstable and thus high-risk forest ecosystems. A whole branch of business has become dependent on coniferous wood. And now the German coniferous timber industry is on the verge of bankruptcy.

It would only have been honest and also a sign of political greatness if you and the forestry ministers in Moritzburg had declared: Yes, our forestry industry has made mistakes in the past, and yes, we are ready for a relentless analysis that takes into account not only purely silvicultural, but also forest-ecological aspects. Instead, you have confined yourselves to pre-stamped excuses that are already familiar to everyone and that lack any self-critical reflection.

Clear is: We finally need resting periods for the forest in Germany, which has been exploited for centuries. We need a new, ecologically oriented concept for future forest – not a hectic `forest conversion´, but simply forest development closer towards nature. This gives the forest as an ecosystem the necessary leeway to self-regulate and react to the emerging environmental changes. We need a systemic forest management that is no less profitable than the present one, but must be substantially more stable and resistant to foreseeable environmental changes. The aid for forest owners that all citizens are now required to pay through their taxes is only politically justified in the interest of common good, if the forests of the future that are being promoted by it, do not end up in the next disaster, some of which is produced by the forest management itself.

That is why the signatories request from the the Federal Government, and in particular you, Mrs Klöckner, a master plan worthy of the name:

On disaster areas (mainly in public forests!) reestablishment through natural forest development (ecological succession), among other things with pioneer tree species, is to be brought about. In private forests, ecological succession for reestablishment must be purposefully promoted. Larger bare areas should be planted with a maximum of 400 to 600 large plants of native species per hectare in order to permit ecological succession parallelly.
To promote ecological succession, the areas should no longer be completely and mechanically cleared; as much wood as possible should be left in the stand (to promote optimum soil and germ bed formation, soil moisture storage and natural protection against browsing). In private forests, the abandonment of use in disaster areas should be specifically promoted for ecological reasons and in order to relieve the burden on the timber market.

Regarding the promotion of reestablishment plantings in private forests: priority for native tree species (of regional origin); choose wide planting distances in order to leave enough space for the development of pioneer species. For the forests of the future: Minimize thinning (low-input principle), build up stocks through targeted development towards old thick trees, protect the inner forest climate / promote self-cooling function (should have highest priority due to rapidly progressing climate change!), prohibit heavy machinery, refrain from further road construction and expansion, permit and promote natural self-regulatory development processes in the cultivated forest and on (larger) separate areas in the sense of an compound system; drastically reduce the density of ungulate game (reform of hunting laws).

Like in the field of organic agriculture, which has been established since the 1980s, the crisis of our forests should be the reason today to transform at least two existing forestry-related universities. They should be turned into universities for interdisciplinary forest ecosystem management. This is a contribution not only to the further development of forestry science and silviculture in Germany, but also of global importance! The goal must be to produce wood through largely natural forest production and to start with it here in Germany, the birthplace of forestry.


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