“Overnight a third of our European program, a place where we have been over two decades conducting on-the-ground conservation work with local staff and partners, has evaporated. What is important now is not to lose hope and not to end up in despair. Hope is what takes us into the future and what we need to stay united.”
We will continue to support protected areas in Ukraine
I have no words for the emotions I feel right now regarding the war in Ukraine. Overnight a third of our European program, a place where we have been over two decades conducting on-the-ground conservation work with local staff and partners, has evaporated.
One of my last trips before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, was a visit to Ukraine. I went to Lviv, a really beautiful city in the west of the country where our office is based. I met with our great FZS team and partners who work there. I then traveled to a number of national parks in the Carpathian Mountains. Here I saw the stunning old-growth forests for which this area is known and I met the very dedicated rangers and teams who help this area thrive.
Since our last update, the Carpathians in the west of the country have seen an influx of refugees seeking a temporary place to stay in protected area buildings. Our team and partners who are in the area and are able to help, are stepping in to support Ukraine’s protected areas. Our partners in Romania have organized 3.5 tons of supplies such as sleeping bags, mattresses, and food and delivered them a few days after the escalation of war in Ukraine.
Our team in Ukraine has sourced bedding material including mattresses, sheets, pillows, blankets. They delivered these donations to protected areas in Ukraine, thereby increasing their capacity to take on more displaced people.
In Germany, the umbrella organization for national parks, biosphere reserves, and certified wilderness areas in the country, the National Natural Landscapes NGO (Nationale Naturlandschaften e. V) are supporting our emergency fundraiser for protected areas in Ukraine. This funding will boost the ability of partners and staff to support those areas during this difficult time.
Parallel to the tragic war taking place in Ukraine, the biodiversity and climate crises continue. Each new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report shares with increasing clarity how likely natural disasters such as floods and droughts will be in the future. For the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic showed us, painfully, the results of destroying species-rich ecosystems.
We need to build the future together, now, more than ever. We need to exit the fossil fuel age quickly, halt logging of primary forests and build sustainable economies. Luckily, there is hope. Nearly 100 countries are part of the Campaign for Nature High Ambition Coalition that is championing a plan to protect at least 30% of the planet by 2030.
Our thoughts are with all our staff, partners their family, and friends who are in Ukraine and neighboring countries. Our support to them will be ongoing. What is important now is not to lose hope and not to end up in despair. Hope is what takes us into the future and what we need to stay united.