European Wilderness SocietyUkraine

Russian-Ukrainian war: Brave Ukrainian rangers and latest news about natural damages.

Bombs don’t know which areas are protected and soldiers don’t care about future sustainability of forests, fields and mountains. Russian invention brings millions of silent victims from nature protection area every day. On the picture above you can see protected areas of Ukraine of the highest priority in war. The map produced by Ukranian Nature Conservation Group and published on 24th of March.

Latest news about environmental loses 

From all 1,236,366 hectares of the nature reserve fund of the highest protection 44% are in the war zones. 

Approximately 4 million hectares of Ukraine are occupied by protected areas. Due to Russian aggression, natural ecosystems suffer from fortification construction, explosions, military transport, and so on. Those protected areas that have special administrations have the opportunity to receive funding, and such as Askania-Nova and zoos – even the opportunity to purchase animal food. Some national nature parks are in a zone of humanitarian crisis and their employees may not even have the basic means to provide for their own living needs.

The Ukrainian Nature Conversation group reports that the total area of ​​forests in the war zone, under the temporary control of Russian invaders or inaccessible to Ukraine, is more than 3 million hectares.  In addition, in the occupied territories, there are numerous unique undisturbed places that do not have protected status. These are old swampy forests in the north of the country, steppes in the east and south, the Cretaceous mountains of Slobozhanshchina, all coastal ecosystems. We should not forget about the previously occupied Crimea and Donbas, which is also a treasure trove of unique natural ecosystems.

Barbarian crimes in Chornobyl area 

On 28th of March Chornobyl nuclear station and the area around are under the control of Russian forces. Constant connection with works or any data about average amount of damage from there are missing. 

On 26th of March the Ministry of Environmental Protection and natural resources reported that satellite data indicate the occurrence of 31 outbreaks of large fires in natural ecosystems and abandoned villages of the exclusion zone, covering a total area of ​​over 10,111 hectares. However, due to the limitations of remote sensing data currently used by our experts from NASA and ESA, the Ministry doesn’t not rule out the existence of a significant number of smaller sources of ignition. General increasing of the temperature in Ukraine made it worse and let the fire spread faster. 

Main reasons of the catastrophe are:

— continuation of shelling and bombing by Russian army

— increase in temperature, no precipitation and dryness

— lack of full-fledged operation of the landscape protection system in the exclusion zone

Before the Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources, Ruslan Strilets, made a briefing with journalists about looting at the laboratory located in Chernobyl area. Almost 100 units of state-of-the-art costly analytical equipment, unique in Europe, have been looted and destroyed. The laboratory was important part of nature protection system, berceuse it provided services at any stage of radioactive waste management — from air conditioning to disposal. 

Brave Ukrainian rangers defend the nature and people 

Currently a lot of rangers joined the army, so they have lack of working hands to maintain job in protected areas. The employees who didn’t become a part of military forces have to deal with thousands of displaced people from near cities and villages seeking for shelter. 

Many rangers of protected areas joint the army and we obviously lack people and ammunitions for them…

Ruslan Gleb, Carpathian Biosphere Reserve employee  
Rusln Gleb, Carpathian Biosphere Reserve employee  

Our brave colleague Ruslan Gleb joined Ukrainian army from the first days of the war. European Wilderness Society has a long-term successful cooperation with Ruslan. Ruslan was a local guide during conduction of the Wilderness Audit in different areas of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve. (signature for the photo).

The Ukrainian government arranged the program for evacuation of protected areas employees. There are two main ways. The first one is relocation of employees from war zones to national nature parks in Ukraine which have less affection. People mainly choose this opportunity to save yourself because they don’t want to leave their birthplace. Many buildings in protected areas were transformed to hotels for relocated people. NGOs are collecting money to buy additional beds, washing machines, heaters and other suppliers what can transform administration buildings to the comfortable temporary shelters. 

The second way is to move rangers to national parks in Europe, where they can get place to stay and education. Friendly European environmental organization will arrange training sessions to exchange experience with Ukrainian colleagues. Mainly, the topic of training will be European standards of work on protected areas to implement them after the war in Ukraine. 

If you want to support Ukraine, please, visit our page #NGOsforUkraine, choose an organization and donate.

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