Biodiversity conservation in Ukraine: conceptual developments and challenges


Starting from prehistoric times, the main mode of natural resources use in Ukraine was agriculture, basically cultivation of crops. This was enough clearly reflected in the nation’s mentality, its attitude and profound of nature. Quite rich biota of Ukraine numbers about 70 000 of species and this is a subject for sustainable use and increasing well-being of society.

However, in 18th century and later there have been examples of some extremities and abuses in the use of nature and natural resources. These were especially dramatic at the end of the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century, when land resources were used in an unwise and exhaustive manner. The steppe zone of Ukraine were extensively transformed into arable lands, new mines and quarries for developing deposits and extracting minerals were built as well as new industrial objects. Unfortunately, during the USSR period “new” methods and modes were introduced into the national economy, which were often in conflict with both traditional and scientifically justified approaches to the natural resources’ use .

The modern practice of utilizing land resources in Ukraine is also far away from the adequate land management requirements. According to the data provided by the State Land Inventory, the Land Fund of Ukraine is amounted to 60,354,800 ha. The environment has been impacted by human activities to a very high degree; since only about 8% of the total area has remained intact (those are mountains, forests, swamps, bogs, lakes, rivers etc.). Agricultural development was estimated to have affected more than 72% of all lands, with the share of arable lands approaching 55%.

Comparing to land use structure of European countries, Ukraine occupies 5,7% of the entire European territory, 18,9 of its agricultural lands and 26,9% of the total European arable lands. Such high level of farming development and, particularly, great part of arable lands almost has not analogues all over the world. At present time Ukraine could be designated to agricultural countries and biodiversity of Ukraine in general could be considered as agricultural biodiversity. Agricultural grounds are one of the most essential factors that condition on the state of the environment.

The basic Ukrainian environmental policy documents have been adopted at different levels taking into consideration the necessity of biodiversity conservation, maintenance of productive capacity of forest ecosystems, support of natural ecosystems health and vitality, enhancing natural ecosystems’ contribution to global cycle and climate stability, decreasing acidification and air pollution, elimination of the consequences of nuclear contamination and prevention of the hazard accidents for the future. Nowadays environmental policy in Ukraine is developing having in mind the “Agenda XXI” principles of sustainable development. It means acknowledgement of integrity of global ecosystem and social-economical concerns, assuring as strategic aim the surviving.The declared policy based on the assuming of interdependency of the economical and environmental concerns.

In fact, overall environmental concerns still play a subordinated role to economic development in the country. At the same time, the Ukrainian environmental management system is developing rapidly and its main goal at this transitional period is, generally speaking, to incorporate environmental concerns into the policy of economic and social development of the country.


During last decade were elaborated important legal acts: On Animal Kingdom, On Plant Kingdom, On Red Data Book, On game and hunting, On Nature Reserves Fund (On Protected Areas), On Econet, regulation on Green Book and state programmes (On Development of the Protected Areas, On Econet Formation, On the Protection and Rehabilitation the Azov and Black Seas, and others).


Ratification of the Convention on Biodiversity as well as Bern, Bonn, Ramsar, Washington, Bucharest, Florence conventions created a new impetus for the future development of environmental protection and biodiversity conservation activities. Biodiversity conservation and sustainable use very slowly are becoming priority issues of a national conservation policy and are the necessary prerequisites for sustainable, balanced socio-economic development of the country.

In line with the approaches outlined by the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy (1995), ecologisation of agricultural landscapes and agricultural technologies, as well as existing practices in forestry, fishery, hunting game, land and water management are among the main aspects of the Concept (National Strategy) of Biodiversity Conservation in Ukraine (1997). As a key steps on the way towards the National Strategy, Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy was signed and legal act “The Principal Directions of the State Policy of Ukraine in the Sphere of Environment Protection” (1998) was adopted by Parliament. General tendency in approaching to Ecological network is making attempt to create universal natural structure for solving not only problems of animals’, plants’, mushrooms’ and their habitats’ conservation, but which could permanently bring of social and economic benefit to population. Such benefit/improvements of conditions of its being thereby laying the foundations for sustainable development of a territory as one of its components.

As a result of political changes in the world and in Ukraine during the last decade and international experience, new opportunities for implementation of sustainable development elements and ecologically sound norms of nature resources’ use have been arisen. At the same time a process of transition to the market economy entails some negative economical and social consequences, in particular, financial crisis and unemployment. It means that any proposal connected with environmental matters should be considered in a system manner taking into account social, ecological and economic conditions.

The Law of Ukraine “On the state Program of Development of National Ecological Network for the Years 2000-2015” {10} has been approved by the Parliament of Ukraine (2000). The principal objective of this Program is to increase the area of lands in the country under natural landscapes to a level sufficient for the preservation of their diversity close to their initial natural conditions and development of their territorially integrated system built to ensure possibility of using natural ways of the migration and propagation of plant and animal species which would ensure preservation of natural ecosystems, species and population of the flora and fauna.

So, conceptually speaking, the evolution of presented legal documents – from objects and species protection – to protected areas – to communities (plant) conservation and sectors (branches) sustainable use – to multifunctional protected areas and national programmes – to econet as holistic synthesis of different approaches, enabling the reaching of ecosystem, synergetic goal.


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