Rescuing 100,000 hectares of wilderness
Protecting virgin forest in the Ukrainian Carpathians
The last intact virgin forest in the temperate latitudes of Europe is to be found in the Carpathians. Trees live to be a hundred years old in these forests, providing an important habitat for numerous organisms such as mushrooms, moss, lichen, insects, rare birds (e.g. capercaillie and black grouse) and mammals (e.g. bats, brown bear, wolf and lynx). Large parts of the forest in the Romanian part of the Carpathians have been lost due to deforestation in recent years. The pressure on timber as a resource is set to increase as the result of international demand and it is only a matter of time before international European companies start large-scale felling in neighbouring Ukraine. There is only a small time window in which the currently unprotected areas of virgin forest can be permanently preserved in the Ukrainian Carpathians by expanding and reinforcing conservation areas.
Ukraine is already working hard to protect the diversity of its species and habitats. In the Ukrainian Carpathians there are now nine national parks and two biosphere reserves. There is also a general ban on tree felling in coniferous forest areas above 1,100 metres. The national parks have already been established and staff taken on, but they now need equipment and more extensive training if they are to protect the areas effectively. Only once the park administrations have been shown to work effectively does it make sense for them to take on the management of even larger, previously unprotected, areas of virgin forest to preserve them on a permanent basis. Current estimates show that there are roughly 100,000 additional hectares of forest which could be integrated into the existing conservation areas in the coming years.
WHAT EXACTLY ARE WE DOING?
- Supporting the national park administrations, e.g. by providing them with vehicles, binoculars, radio equipment and GPS systems.
- Setting up and expanding ranger posts.
- Training rangers and scientists.
- Collecting scientific data for conservation evaluation of the forest.
- Carrying out necessary feasibility studies and preparing documents on the expansion of existing conservation areas.
- Conducting political and social lobbying in the relevant areas.
Virgin forest in the Ukrainian Carpathians.