In 2012, in the Odessa region there was created one of the largest in Ukraine steppe reserves – reserve “Tarutynskyi steppe” with an areas of 5200 hectares1. The reserve was created on virgin territory that previously belonged to Tarutyno military range. After termination of functioning of the military range, its lands were attributed to reserve lands. Earlier there were plans to create here a regional landscape park covering 26,000 hectares, and most of the territory was ploughed before it received protected status.2
On 10-12 October 2016, researchers of the private enterprises “Center for Environmental Management” found agricultural machinery, which ploughed the reserve. The reserve is a habitat of many species listed in the Red Book of Ukraine and habitats listed in Resolution 4 of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) in 1979. Pursuant to the Berne Convention Ukraine is working on the design of the Emerald network. The reserve “Tarutynskij steppe” is included in the planned Emerald Network. It is important to note that “Tarutynskij steppe” is among last areas in Ukraine where the rare steppe mammal birch mouse is preserved.
It has been established that private enterprise “Chance” concluded the agreement # 5-2016 with Bilhorod- Dnistrovsk residential exploitation service on growing crops on land of total area of 1039.0 hectares. The conclusion of such an agreement is a gross violation of the law of Ukraine because these virgin lands do not belong to the residential exploitation service. The violation is even more serious because these lands are included into the nature reserve, and damage to such lands entails liability according to Art. 252 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
To protect the reserve from farmers and soldiers, Tarutyno District State Administration addressed the Economic Court of Odessa region with a lawsuit, which requires to take a decision on the claim, namely to ban to the private enterprise “Chance 2016” to perform any agricultural works on the lands that are object of to the dispute before the court makes a decision in the case on the merits. In addition, the main claim of the lawsuit is to annul the agreement between the residential exploitation service and the private enterprise “Chance.”
The campaign to protect the reserve was joined by civil society organizations working on the formation in Ukraine of the Emerald Network under the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and national deputies – members of the Anti-Corruption Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
1 The Decision of Odessa regional council of 26.04.2012 # 445-У1
2 Вакаренко Л., Дубимна Д. Рослинність Тарутинського степу (Одеська обл.) та проблеми її охорони // Чорноморський ботанічний журнал – том 9, № 2 (2013)