Wilderness Audits in Ukraine

Wilderness and strict non-intervention management are inseparable elements of nature and biodiversity conservation in a number of protected areas in Ukraine.

Vlado Vancura
European Wilderness Society

Deputy Chairman of European Wilderness Society, Vlado Vancura, bases this statement on his first-hand experience gained during last years. He came to this conclusion after several Wilderness Quick- and Full-Audits and following monitoring in the previous years. 

During this field work, it was reconfirmed many times that the natural dynamic and spontaneous processes are very often fundamental elements of the conservation strategy in these strictly protected areas. The number of European Wilderness Society articles also illustrate this statement.

International team

Two international Wilderness experts are going to visit Ukraine at the first week of June. Vlado Vancura – Wilderness expert from the European Wilderness Society and Garry Oye – Wilderness expert from United States. Garry used to be Director of Wilderness of US National Park Service and his Wilderness experience reaches far beyond US boundaries. Iryna Shchoka, European Wilderness Society’s focal point in Ukraine, also dealing with Youth Programmes and Carpathian Projects, locally supports the Wilderness experts.

Meetings in Kiev

Both experts will visit Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, and will meet representatives of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine. The purpose of this meeting is to formalise ongoing cooperation and sign Memorandum of Understanding. The main focus of this step is on:

  • Wilderness development and protected areas’ capacity-building in Ukraine.
  • Education of youth and adults regarding benefits of Wilderness and protected areas’ values
  • Sustainable development and particularly further implementation of the “Protocol on Sustainable Tourism to the Framework Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians” in Ukraine.

Wilderness in Carpathians

This time, the Wilderness experts will continue their field work in Western Ukraine. Nature Reserve “Gorgany” and Carpathian Biosphere Reserve will be investigated regarding Wilderness potential. For “Gorgany” it will be a chance to extend the validity of its membership in European Wilderness Network.

Potential Wilderness in Polissya

This time there will also be a chance to compare Wilderness in the Carpathians with potential Wilderness in Polissya. Polissya is another forest covered area on the north of Ukraine. During this visit, Wilderness experts will meet local activists, involved in the protection of the Mizhrichynskyy Regional Landscape Park. The specific objective will be to find out, if this area, pretty close to Kyiv, contains Wilderness. 

Current available knowledge indicates that the sphagnum peat-bog with an area of 1 300 ha could meet the European Wilderness Quality Standard. The Mizhrichynskyy Regional Landscape Park lies between one of the biggest river in Ukraine – Dnipro and river Desna, close to the Chernobyl Reserve. The Park also shares borders with a Belarussian protected area. The management of both areas recently started to consider the creation of a transboundary protected area. The area provides a suitable habitat for number animals including frequent symbol of Wilderness: wolf and lynx.

Important partnership

This trip and scheduled meetings underline the importance of the long-term Wilderness and strict non-intervention management in several protected areas in Ukraine. These areas really deserve not only international recognition, but also practical support. Experience with Wilderness Stewardship in this country must be widely communicated.

Europeans have to be aware and proud what Ukrainian Wilderness stewards achieved in the previous years.

Max A. E. Rossberg, European Wilderness Society
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