A view of the Carpathians

Rolling green mountains turn to rich hues of orange and red, as insects dance above highland streams. A wolf track here, bear scat there, and a breathtaking panoramic vista beyond – the Carpathian mountains are without doubt a landscape of outstanding natural beauty. Could these scenes help win hearts and promote the protection of this unique natural heritage?

11/04/2021, Zanne Labuschagne

This year, together with the Carpathians Mountains International Film Festival and national partners, a photo competition was held as part of our public outreach work in the Ukrainian Carpathians. We encouraged entrants to share images of the scenery and wildlife of the region, as well as pictures that depict people interacting with nature – both in a positive and negative way. The top three photos in each category, chosen by a panel of judges, received prizes. A selection of eight photos were also shared in an exhibition at the film festival, where a talk on the primary forests of the Carpathians was presented.

The winners

Arshitsa Ridge in West Gorgany by Artur Ish – winner of the 'landscapes and forests of the Carpathians' category of the competition.
A fire salamander perched on a mushroom by Hanna Ponomarenko – winner of the 'wildlife of the Carpathians' category.
Sunrise on Synevir Lake by Larysa Uhryn - winner of the 'people and nature' category.
Spring in the Carpathians by Pavlo Chyzhmar – winner of the public choice award.

What's at stake?

The large-scale primary and old-growth forests of the Ukrainian Carpathians are unique in Europe. Securing these intact forests is key to combatting the entwined biodiversity and climate crises, yet even here – where so few such areas remain – the threat of deforestation is ever present.

Many of Ukraine’s primary forests are at risk – large tracts of ‘wild’ forest remain beyond the borders of protected areas; while inadequate budgets and management capacity mean that forests and wildlife within national parks are also not necessarily safe. Urgent action is needed to secure these forests for the health of our planet and future generations.

By protecting the large primary forests still remaining in Ukraine not only would emissions be reduced (since veteran trees in primary forests store huge amounts of carbon), but the massive carbon sequestration potential of these forests would also be secured.

Hanna Kuzo, ornithologist and Communications Officer for the FZS Ukrainian Carpathians project, presents at the Carpathian Mountains International Film Festival. Image credit: Zanne Labuschagne

A narrow window of opportunity

In the Ukrainian Carpathians we strive to protect 300,000 hectares of natural landscapes, as one of the largest and most valuable networks of protected areas in Europe. To this end, existing protected areas shall be enlarged, and important primeval and old-growth forests added and therefore better protected. Through the creation of a network of protected areas and a focus on connectivity between these areas we aim to ensure that the ecological systems of the Carpathian Mountains and the services they provide are protected effectively and sustainably.

The lives and livelihoods of many inhabitants of the rural communities living adjacent to the protected areas in the Ukrainian Carpathians are closely linked to natural resources. At the same time, the area’s mountainous landscapes are of outstanding beauty, offering great potential for nature-based tourism and other sustainable development opportunities.

Through an environmental communication campaign, targeted at key audiences within the local communities, we aim to improve knowledge of the ecosystem services that intact primary forests provide and the benefits that protected areas can bring for local people. Furthermore, the communications campaign also aims to promote dialogue between park authorities and local communities. By raising awareness of environmental issues and showing communities the benefits that protected areas can bring, we aim to cultivate a constituency for conservation in the settlements surrounding the parks where the project works.

A few more of our favorites:

'Forest eye', Arshytsya lake in Gorgany by Andrij Chuyashenko
A deer peers through the grass in a window in the forest by Oleg Kukhar
Highland meadows in the Svydovets range of the Capathians by Iurii Sazin
Looking out at Goverla from Zakukul by Oleksii Boiko
A Common Cuckoo by Ivanna Dudliv
'Carpathian giants', an autumnal scene by Larysa Uhryn
'Breathe in, breathe out' by Kateryna Baiduzha
A misty morning mountain scene by Oleksandr Bystrikov
A dormouse on a mountain slope by Pavlo Lutsan
A round-leaved sundew by Maria Zykova
Snow falls on Polonyna Runa by Iurii Sazin

About the project

The Ukrainian Carpathians project, including outreach and environmental education activities, is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.’

  • Ukraine

    Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains

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