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05 Jun. 2023


World Environment Day: how russia is destroying Ukraine's nature reserve fund



World Environment Day: how russia is destroying Ukraine's nature reserve fund

Environmental protection is one of the most important responsibilities of humanity. That is why World Environment Day is celebrated around the world on June 5. Learn about how russia is destroying nature and the real state of protected areas in Ukraine

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World Environment Day is an important date for people around the world. After all, environmental protection is one of the most important factors that directly affect the well-being of society and the economic condition of countries. 

However, the aggressor country does not see any value in nature and protected areas. Since 2014, russian troops have been using the occupied Ukrainian territories in Donbas and Crimea for military exercises. In particular, we are talking about the Ramsar sites "Kryva Bay and Kryva Spit" and "Cape Opuk Water and Coastal Complex". 

And today, due to the actions of the russian army, more than a million hectares of the reserve fund have been destroyed in Ukraine. 

What protected areas has russia seized and destroyed?

As of today, the russian occupiers have seized 20 protected areas in Eastern and Southern Ukraine, including: 10 national parks, 8 nature reserves and 2 biosphere protected areas. 

In addition, during the full-scale invasion, significant damage was done to protected areas and wildlife in Sumy, Chernihiv, Kyiv, and Kharkiv regions.

In total, about 30% of Ukraine's protected areas are affected by the war, and direct damage to the ecosystem is estimated at trillions of hryvnias. This is a catastrophic figure, because we are talking not only about the actual territories, but also about rare species of animals and plants that suffer daily from the actions of the occupiers.

The state of Ukraine's protected areas occupied by russian troops: a real environmental ecocide

Wildlife is forced to survive in the territories where russian troops are temporarily stationed. The parks that are supposed to protect rare species of plants and animals have now turned into hunting grounds, mines and parking lots for tanks.

On the occupied territories, russians are conducting barbaric deforestation, building defense lines, deliberately setting fire to forests, littering and mining parks and water bodies, which ultimately not only leads to an environmental disaster but can also provoke the emergence of new exclusion zones.

At the same time, russians are massively killing animals, not hesitating to film it all on social media. In addition, dolphins and other wildlife are dying en masse in the Black Sea and in the Odesa region due to the use of sonar by russian ships.

And those representatives of wildlife that did not die at the hands of the occupiers are under constant stress due to the lack of living conditions and numerous explosions.

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The main threat to Ukraine's natural ecosystem

The main problem is that the restoration of these territories after the end of hostilities or the withdrawal of russian troops is impossible. After all, the city can be rebuilt, but it will not be possible to restore a specific ecosystem that has been protected by international conventions for years. This will take decades and requires complete non-interference of humans in the process.

The issue is very urgent and needs to be addressed immediately, because much more depends on the state of natural ecosystems than it might seem at first glance. Today, the term ecosystem services and their value has been defined internationally. 

For example, we are all used to thinking that clean air is something that does not require any individual effort on the part of humans. However, it is natural ecosystems that provide oxygen for people. Similarly, they protect us from floods or global droughts by retaining water during heavy rains. The state of natural ecosystems also directly affects crop yields, as this indicator is influenced by the number of pollinating insects, including bumblebees, which need natural areas with grasses to live.

This means that by losing natural ecosystems, we lose all the services we used to receive for free from them. This will eventually force us to compensate for them with expensive technologies and, even worse, with the loss of health due to environmental degradation.

How are environmental issues being addressed in Ukraine today?

Today, representatives of the International Environmental Conventions have already received notes (special letters) from the Ukrainian authorities for further consideration and decision-making on the illegality of the actions of the russian federation in the occupied nature reserve territories of Ukraine. In particular, further decisions will be made by the secretariats of the following conventions:

● Bern Convention;

● Ramsar

● Bonn Convention;

● Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES);

● International Union for the Protection of the Environment and the UNESCO Commission.

Appealing to international institutions allows us to publicize the catastrophic situation caused by the russian authorities and to achieve fair punishment for all those involved in these actions.

We remind you! The russian army has occupied many Ukrainian territories rich in mineral resources. Read how this has affected the Ukrainian economy, the amount of damage and why the deposits may be lost forever in our previous article.

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