Just to remind that recently there was made a decision about the need to wothdraw the Armed Forces of Ukraine from the territory of the National Park “Oleshkivski Sands”1, where since October 2015 unauthorized military exercises had taken place.2 After the beginning of the armed conflict this decision was the first important step of the Ukrainian army to protect nature.
Increased number of troops and deployment of large-scale exercises on military polygons inevitably lead to increased adverse impact of the Army on the environment. Consultations of EPL environmentalists with organizers of military trainings of the Armed Forces showed that the army is ready to make decisive steps to protect the natural heritage of Ukraine.
For over a year and a half EPL’s environmental scientists have been studying the negative effects of the war on the environment and human health.3 Regrettably, it is not possible to influence these consequences on the frontline and in the occupied territories. Instead, it is the duty of every officer, soldier and volunteer to minimize the adverse influence of the army in the rear, where the militaries train. Reasonable environmental activities during military exercises should be not only practical work to reduce damage to the environment, but also part of patriotic education of military men as fully developed citizens of dignity.
At the request of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, EPL’s environmentalists started development of the plan of environmental activities in military polygons. Environmental divisions are in the structure of military polygons of many developed countries, including strategic military partners of Ukraine: the USA, Germany, Israel, Sweden. (EPL experts studied experience of these countries.)
We believe that the next step in the joint activities of the Ministry of Defense and environmentalists should be launching in the educational process in the Armed Forces of Ukraine the direction of volunteer help for national natural parks of Ukraine.
Specifically for Ukrainian militaries EPL experts made translation of a video clip (with Ukrainian subtitles) that shows the activities of the armed forces of Israel to help national parks https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_y1saMH7Ubw (Ukrainian subtitles are turned on by the corresponding menu button in the active online player)
Lawyers and environmental scientists of EPL are ready to be the connecting link that will help establish contact between the militaries and national parks, to propose feasible and timely actions that militaries can undertake to help national parks, to participate in such activities.