Despite the fact that the expansion of protected areas is stipulated by the Strategy of Regional Development of Ukraine, in 2016 only in 11 regions there were adopted decisions to establish protected areas. Another four areas expanded the network of protected areas through the work of the Ministry of Environment of Ukraine rather than departments of environmental protection at regional state administrations.
EPL environmental scientists analyzed how creation of protected areas progressed in regions of Ukraine in 2016.
Like last year, particularly active was creation of protected areas in Ternopil region, creation of large nature reserves in Lviv region as well as functioning of Donetsk civil-military administration that managed in the difficult wartime to announce two natural protected areas that have been known for their extraordinary natural value for more than half a century.
The overall situation with creation of protected areas in the regions is as follows: 12 sites in the Ternopil region, 10 sites in Kyiv region (mostly individual trees), 5 sites in Vinnytsia, 4 sites in Lviv region, 3 sites in Sumy region, 3 sites in Zaporizhzhia region, 3 sites in Cherkasy region, 2 sites in Donetsk region, 2 sites in Zakarpattia, 3 in the city of Kyiv (separate trees without the land under them, which are anyway located in the national nature park “Holosiyivskyi”) and 1 site in Rivne region. In addition, the creation of protected areas in the Kyivv region was accompanied by unprecedented high expenses from the state budget, which is described in detail in EPL’s research at http://epl.org.ua/events/2886-yak-chynovnyky-nazhyvaiutsia-na-stvorenni-ob-iektiv-pryrodno-zapovidnoho-fondu .
The rest of the regions did not create objects of protected areas in 2016. In view of the annexation of territories, no protected areas were created in Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.
Thus, totally, during 2016 in Ukraine the territory of protected areas was expanded by 230,374.9 hectares, including 2,180.324 hectares under45 objects of local value created by decisions of regional councils and 228,194.6 hectares under 13 objects of national importance.
It’s no secret that 226,964.7 ha of this territory belong to one object, Chernobyl radiation-ecological reserve, which occupies 98.5% of the total area of protected areas created during the year.
The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (hereinafter – CMU) by its resolution of August 6, 2014 № 385 approved the National Strategy of Regional Development of Ukraine till 2020, indicating that up to 2017 in Ukraine there should be created 6733 thousand ha of protected areas, by 2021 year – 9095 thousand ha of protected areas and objects. As of 1 January 2017, the share of protected areas in Ukraine should be 11%, as of the beginning of January 2021 – 15% of the total area of the state. These figures are detailed regarding each region.
During 2015, in Ukraine there were created 1.3% of those protected areas that should have been created according to the Strategy for 2015-2016. In 2016, the figures clearly increased. 3.4% of the required amount has been created! But if not to count the Chernobyl special reserve, there remains 0.05% of what the regions should have done during the year in terms of creating protected areas.
Of course, creation of protected areas and objects is not an easy task. However, two factors are decisive: the lack of understanding on the local level and lack of state support of the matter, which in 2005 was declared by a special decree of the President of Ukraine to be the national priority in the field of environmental protection (http://zakon5.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/ 838/2005).
Majority of regions have not created a single protected area and Zhytomyr Regional Administration has a principled position that the regional state administration is not supposed to be engaged into creation of protected areas (despite the requirements of Article 21 of the Law of Ukraine “On local state administrations”, indicating that regional state administrations have to perform this function when local state administration submits proposals to the relevant local self-governance authorities regarding the organization of territories and objects of local protected areas).
But apart from Zhytomyr Regional State Administration, the Minister of Environment Ostap Semerak was also involved into sabotage of the state’s interests in the field of protected areas. His Order # 549 of 12.28.2016 “On Amendments to the Order of the Ministry of Environment of 21.04.2016 № 160” reduces the staff of the Department of Protected Areas by one person instead of creating a separate department focusing on creation of new protected areas. Only 5 people in the entire country have duties to work on the implementation of the Regional Development Strategy and prepare documentation for new national parks and reserves. Instead, a new position of the deputy minister was created to keep a workplace for Victor Vakarash known for scandalous contests for directors of national parks.