Ukrainian-Dutch Project

Virgin Forests in the Transcarpathia (Ukraine) as the core areas of Pan-European ecological network

 (BBI-MATRA Project 2006-2007)


Forests in the Transcarpathia (Ukraine) cover an area of ca. 647700 ha within which 434300 ha are the broad-leaved forests and 213400 ha are the coniferous ones. There are numerous ecological niches and a high plant diversity because of the landscape diversity (plains, foothills, mountains), a great elevation of altitude (400 to 2061 m above sea level), relief and bedrock diversity, also a high variety of soils and hydrological conditions.

The forests in the Transcarpathia consist of the characteristic for the Central Europe tree species. Beech (Fagus sylvatica) predominates here (59%), spruce (Picea abies) and fir (Abies alba) comprise together 32%, and the participation of spruce is larger because of the people economic activity. The natural spruce forests (Piceeta abietis) cover the spacious area and they grow at 1200-1650 m above sea level. The fir-spruce forests (Abieto- Piceeta) are characteristic for poor and acid soils in the limits of the beech vegetation belt. Pine (Pinus cembra) and larch (Larix decidua) occur here and there. The territory of the oak forests (several species of Quercus) covers 7,5%, and the forests of ash-tree (Fraxinus excelsior), maple (Acer pseudoplatanus), elm (Ulmus glabra) and some other species are distributed at the limited area.

A composition of the forest vegetation is mostly determined here by altitude zones. So the oak forests are distributed in the plain and foothill part of the Transcarpathia, and the oak-ash flood forests (Quercetum roboris-Fraxineta) are typical for the terraces of the Tysa, Borzhava and Latorytsya rivers. The oak forests with participation of hornbeam (Carpineto-Querceta roboris) are distributed in the foothills, and the oak-beech forests (Fageto-Querceta petraeeae) are characteristic for the Hutyn-Tomnatyk Mountain Range. 

The beech forests occupy the largest territories within the Transcarpathia, and optimal growing conditions for beech are within limits of 350-1450 m a.s.l. The pure beech stands (Fageta sylvaticae) frequently grow here almost without lower layer. Next to them, there is a number of forests transient to mixed ones. For example, rock oak (Quercus petraea) is an admixture in the warmer lower vegetation belts, and yew tree (Taxus baccata) together with lime tree (Tilia cordata) occur on the limestone bedrocks. 

The crooked woodland of mountain pine (Pinus mugo), green alder (Alnus viridis) and siberian juniper (Juniperus sibirica) are characteristic for the subalpine belt of the Transcarpathia.
The Flora of the Transcarpathia includes ca. 2600 species of the Higher Plants (ca. 2500 species of the Vascular Plants), and among them there are 120 Carpathian endemics.

Till present time the full understanding of the location and size of territories of the Transcarpathian primeval forests is absent, therefore, a lot of these forests have not protected status, and a large part of them continues to be under anthropogenic press and their territories continue to be reduced. Besides, the Ukrainian Government doesnt have an appropriate policy concerning the management of various primeval forest types. 


Background for realization of the Project

In the scientific circles and the forestry practice, the more and more attention is payed to problems of the stable forestry, especially in the mountain forests. The Swiss-Ukrainian Project for the forestry development in the Transcarpathia (FORZA), also the results of the collaboration of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve and other Scientific Institutions together with the Swiss Federal Institute of Forest, Snow and Landscape (WSL) in the frame of the Projects of the Swiss Scientific Foundation (SCOPES) plays the essential role in Ukraine. The actuality of problems according the stable forestry in the Carpathians also is increasing after the ratification of the Frame Convention concerning the protection and stable development ot the Carpathians and taking of the new version of the Forest Codex of Ukraine.

The point 85 of this Law matters very much because it garantees the primeval forest protection and the conservation of a wild nature as a whole. It is a new approach to the natural protection in Ukraine, therefore, it is very important to have the complete and objective notion concerning the quantitative and qualitative composition of the primeval forest ecosystems. But at the present time the such data in fact are absent. In this context the Ukrainian-Dutch Project Virgin Forests in the Transcarpathia (Ukraine) as the core areas of Pan-European ecological network is very important.

The forementioned Project is carried out in Ukraine in the frames of the International Programme of the nature management PIN-MATRA and it is supported by the Dutch Government. It is also expedient to note that in 2001-2005 the Romanian Forestry Institute (ICAS) and the Forestry Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (FRI-BAS) already completed the inventory and mapping of the primeval forests in Romania and Bulgaria exactly in the frames of this Programme, besides, and at present time the Slovakian National Forestry Institute is analyzing the state of the natural forests in Slovakia.

The importance of this Project is increasing because of the Ukrainian-Slovak nomination Beech primeval forests of the Carpathians recently presented for its inclusion into The List of the World Nature and Culture Heritadge of UNESCO.

The Project of inventory and mapping of the primeval forests in the Transcarpathia is conducting in the frames of the Contract on collaboration between the Dutch Royal Society of the Nature Protection (DRSNP) and the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve (CBR) according to the agreement of the Ministry of the Nature Protection of Ukraine (letters 26-9-10/477 from 19.07.2005 and 865/29-8 from 30.01.2006) and the State Commitee of Forestry of Ukraine (letter 06-18/4963 from 20.12.2005). 

For the elaboration of the Manual the data of the Forestry Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences were used. 

The implementation of this Project will give to specify the exact space location of these forests and to elaborate measures on their protection and use.

Main and long-term objectives 

The overall objective of the Project is to favour the long-term conservation of the primeval complexes in the Transcarpathia by instillation of the sustainable management and protection of the valuable forests and for the approaching of them up to the standards of the Helsinki Declaration and requirements of the EU. As a result of the carrying out of the Project, a list of the primeval forests has to be prepared and it would be based on the scientific criteria. The outcomes of the Project would be reflected in the Action Plan for the forests protection and management and their inclusion to the PEEN/Natura 2000. The very important long-term objective is also to promote the comprehencion of the importance of the primeval forests conservation by public opinion . 


Short-term objectives

-              Working out of criteria for selection of the forest territories to be regarded as primeval ones.

-              Working out of criteria for assessment of the ecological peculiarities of these ecosystems (structure and conditions for functioning). 

-              Mapping of the forests classified as the primeval ones on the base of the field studies and usage of methods for analysis of satellite images. 

-              Descriptions of the primeval forests according to their diversity, types, state and conditions for the sustainable management.

-              Working out of a strategy for management and protection of these forests including the emphasizing on the priorities and measures for their conservation. 

-              Strengthening of attention to the protection of the primeval forests. 

-              Increasing of the forest owners (state and private persons) interest by means of arrangement of seminars and relevant publications. 

-              Elaboration of the recommendations for monitoring and future precise study in these forests.