The war in eastern Ukraine causes massive abuse of the soil cover. Shell explosions, passage of heavy equipment and construction of various fortifications lead to considerable damage to soil and vegetation both on natural areas and in the agricultural land.
The consequences of violations are erosion and reduced soil fertility, contamination of soil and groundwater, dissemination of invasive alien plants on damaged areas. The cumulative effect of these factors poses a serious threat to the recovery of agriculture in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions after the war.
Most of the ATO zone is occupied with farmland, fields, pastures and meadows. However, further use of significant parts of these lands in the near future is unacceptable before a thorough survey and soil protection measures are performed.
In the former Yugoslavia after the military conflict in 1999, the agricultural land area of 2.5 million hectares was removed from use because of contamination. It takes centuries to recover natural soil cover. Yugoslavian scientists have identified that it takes from 1500 up to 7400 years for the nature to recover 20 cm of humus. Over 100 years only 0.5-2 cm.1
Legislation of Ukraine provides for conservation of degraded land in cases of erosion, deflation, loss of soil fertility or soil contamination. According to EPL experts, the best solution to the situation that has developed with the destruction of the soil in the area of ATO, will become the measures of de-mining the area; identifying and marking on the ground agricultural lands contaminated by shell explosions and because of other technological factors; carrying out extensive work to eliminate trenches and other mechanical disturbances of soil; turning to meadows all damaged and arable land to be later transferred into pastures.