Recent visit to Ukraine

Last week European Wilderness Society team conducted a number of events in the Ukraine.

Among them:

  • Seminar “Future of the Wilderness and UNESCO World Heritage site in the Ukraine”
  • Exhibition “Human and Wilderness coexistence“
  • Visit to Local farmer on Herd Protection issue
  • Visit to National Nature Park Zacharovanyy kray
  • Visit to local green-tourism house owner
  • Meetings with our local partners

Seminar on Wilderness and UNESCO

It was a pleasure for us to meet our long-term partners from Ministry of Environment and Nature Resources of Ukraine, protected areas, NGOs as well as to discuss with new partners future common projects.

We informed our partners regarding European Wilderness Audit procedures, already certified Wildernesses in Ukraine as well as about our plans.

As up to now we have such Certified Wilderness in the Ukraine

Wilderness in Ukraine Size of Wilderness Wilderness Label
Gorgany Wilderness 4 800 ha Gold
Hoverla Wilderness 4 477 ha Bronze
Kuziy-Trybushany WILDForest 1 370 ha Bronze
Mala Uholka WILDRiver  7 km Platinum
Shyrokyy Luh WILDRiver  9 km Platinum
Synenyr Wilderness 4 580 ha Silver
Uholka-Shyrokyy Luh Wilderness 7 117 ha Platinum
Uholka-Shyrokyy Luh WILDForest  7 117 ha Platinum
Velyka Uholka WILDRiver  8 km Platinum
Zacharovanyy Kray Wilderness 1 332 ha Bronze
Zacharovanyy Kray WILDForest  1 332 ha Bronze

In our closest plans in Ukraine:

  • Full audit of Synevyr Wilderness
  • Full audit of Kuziy-Trebushany WILDForest
  • Full audit of  Hoverla Wilderness
  • Quick Audit of issue of Tysa river
  • Quick Audit of Dniester river

On behalf of European Beech forest Network, we also made a presentation and moderated discussion on Challenges and threats to the UNESCO World Heritage site “Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe”: management, zonation, tourism, particularly according to World Heritage Committee, Decision 41 COM 8B.7 as part of the 41st session, July 7th 2017). Participants also discussed how European Beech forest Network can support Ukrainian partners.

Among biggest challenges Ukrainian partners mentioned: lack of funding, lack of educational activities and awareness raising campaign, as well as insufficient protection of the World Heritage.

Exhibition

Adult and young visitors of the exhibition were interested to hear (and to see full-size wooden figures) about large carnivores of Europe, their return and how to behave during encounter with them, as well as about modern herd protection management.

The pleasure of watching Max Rossberg´s nature interpretation is just spilled over!

Natalya Gudkova, associate professor of the State ecological academy and Heritage Interpreter

Ecological educators, which visited exhibition, were interested in receiving own sets of exhibition exponents for their own use, as well as in educational activities to be further conducted by the European Wilderness Society.

Some of them, who saw our Wild 5 Journal for the first time, recognized it as a great educational tool.

Both events were hosted by the Window on America resource-informational centre.

Visit to National Nature Park Zacharovanyy kray

We were glad to visit the First Certified Wilderness in the Ukraine- Zacharovanyy kray, where first of all the Ceremony of European Wilderness Network Member flag raising took place. We had a conversation on opportunities but also challenges and threats following the inclusion of some of park territory to UNESCO World Heritage site. We also discussed awareness raising, European Wilderness Expert Exchange visits as well as youth educational activities to be jointly conducted by our two organizations.

Herd Protection visit

It was good to be informed that some of Ukrainian farmers are aware of the return of large carnivores, have some knowledge and are already taking some protection measures, like dogs and electric fences. But there is still a lot to be learnt about up-to-date effective electric fences and other protection measures as well as about large carnivores.

Green tourism

During the meeting with local green-tourism house owner we discussed possibility of introduction simple camping sites, tourists’ waste reduction measures, cooperation with National Nature Park on sustainable tourism.

In principal, our international team was satisfied with the visit and next trip to Ukraine is scheduled for the end of July and first part of August, when we will conduct Wild Art event in Synevyr.

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Join more 100+ forest experts demanding a radical change in German forestry management.

Sign the Open Letter to the German Federal Minister of Forestry and Agriculture

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.

Motto: SYSTEMIC FOREST ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT INSTEAD OF WOOD FACTORY

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