Ecologists and volunteers of the ICO «Environment-People-Law» (EPL) started studying the losses of nature and reserve fund (NRF) in the regions of Ukraine. Besides present NRF areas, a lot of others were established not long time ago. Still for some reasons these sites were cancelled. Sometimes it happened due to deforestation or construction aims. Some areas still can have their protection status back. The study is conducted for the first time. Starting with this piece of news we are going to release information on the lost NRF sites in different regions of Ukraine.
As of January 1, 2016 in Volyn region there were 388 sites of NRF of Ukraine with total area of 234500,64 ha. 48 NRF sites with total area of 15165,76 ha partially or fully are parts of the other NRF sites, that means that actually their total area is 219334,88 ha that is by 6,46 % less than the area calculated by summing up the areas of all the sites. Thus, the NRF areas constitute 10,88% of the area of the region.
However, starting with the middle of the 20th century in Volyn region there were established more NRF sites and areas than those which are included in the aforementioned official statistics. To get information on the lost NRF areas in Volyn region we obtained in the State Archive of Volyn region copies of all the decisions of state authorities at the regional level on establishment of protected sites starting with 1972, and we have done comparative analysis with the list of current NRF sites published by the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine in 2016.
The analysis revealed 362 NRF sites with total area of about 39986 ha which do not exist. Out of them 116 (37 % from total area) were cancelled by the aforementioned decisions of Volyn Regional Council as these sites became part of new protected territories with larger area; for the reasons of physical damage, destruction or due to change of category. As far as other 246 sites are concerned, which are not included in the modern list, we did not manage to find decisions about their cancellations. NRF sites not included in the modern list and those for which we have not found the corresponding cancellation decision are 55 natural monuments of local significance, 21 park-monuments of garden and park art, 62 sanctuaries of local significance, 8 protected areas.
In our opinion, the issue of NRF sites cancellation evokes great concern and requires particular attention. According to the preamble of the Law of Ukraine «On Nature and Reserve Fund of Ukraine», NRF sites are heritage of all Ukrainian people. However, strict regulation of decisions regarding cancellation of NRF sites, established in the past, was introduced to Article 54 of the Law only in 2010. That is why in the past a lot of decisions on NRF sites cancellation were taken for completely different reasons, including the reason for having access to the natural resources protected in the territory of NRF site. Moreover, in the past a lot of decisions were taken with violations.
In the process of the study in Volyn region we have also found violations of the cancellation procedure in relation to certain NRF sites. An example is a botanic sanctuary of local significance «Volyn» (Lutsk, K. Savury Str.) with an area of 10 ha, which was established by the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialistic Republic № 311 dated from July 22, 1983, and cancelled by the decision of Volyn Regional Council № 9/12 from December 16, 2003 “On Preservation and Development of Nature and Reserve Fund of the Region” that goes beyond the powers of the regional council, as cancellation of NRF areas of national significance is possible only by the Resolution of the Supreme Council of Ukraine or Presidential Decree.
The study has shown that for the period from 1972 Volyn region lost (not taking into account NRF sites that became part of larger sites) 25443 ha of protected areas that made up 9,78 % from the area of all NRF sites established.