On 4 July during the conference in Lugano, Switzerland, the Government of Ukraine presented a recovery plan for Ukraine. Such recovery envisages the use of funds from the EU and other western institutions supporting Ukraine. The plan includes activities related to conservation of wild nature in Ukraine.
The Minister of the Environment Ruslan Strilets presented projects which are a “priority” for Ukraine:
- 10 “model” national parks;
- 15 rehabilitation centers for wild animals;
- 15 wildlife crossings on animal migration routes;
- 9 seed selection centers to grow tree seedlings for forestry.
Referring to any of these expensive projects as a “priority” would be a big mistake. Nature conservation in Ukraine requires other much more systemic steps outlined below. Moreover, each of the projects presented by Ruslan Strilets envisages some kind of construction – an activity easily combined with corruption in Ukraine.
To be honest, there are many more specific projects which, as the government of Ukraine plans, will receive funding from the EU (links here and here). Some of them are obviously negative for nature. For example:
- Expanding material and resource base of Ukraine (i.e. increase in mining, logging etc.);
- Transition to mechanized way of tree harvesting with the use of harvesters and forwarders (i.e. increase in logging amounts through the use of modern machines);
- Improvement of the environmental impact assessment procedure and reducing time required for the procedure (i.e. weakening the procedure which makes problems for unsustainable business);
- Deregulation and easineng the access to subsoil resources (needs no comments);
- Construction of irrigation systems covering 1 million ha and development of melioration systems (i.e. further expansion of one of the reasons why Ukrainian rivers degrade);
- Returning agricultural lands to “economical” use (i.e. expansion of croplands on behalf of grasslands and naturally-afforested abandoned lands);
- Renewal of Ukrainian forests (i.e. logging of old-growth forests);
- Construction of 3,5 gigawatt hydropower plants;
- Development of water transport routes within inland waters (i.e. development of E40 water route opposed by environmentalists in at least three countries).
Outlined above is only a small part of anti-environmental projects planned by the government. At the same time, no systematic approach to nature conservation is present in the plan. Activities truly vital for nature conservation are not recognized by Ukrainian officials.
For example, recently more than 20 Ukrainian and European NGOs appealed to the EU authorities with the demand to provide financing to Ukraine only if specific reforms for nature conservation are implemented. A detailed list of such reforms is available under the link. These reforms – not the governmental plans – are needed in Ukraine right now!
We hope that the plans of the Ministry of the Environment will never be implemented. We hope that Western allies of Ukraine will act in line with the European Green Deal. No anti-environmental activities are to be funded from abroad!