wisdom of evolution
to the international scientific conference
“Natural forests in the Temperate Zone of Europe – Values
Babenko, “Uryadovyi kuryer” newspaper, January 27th, 2004
It seems, the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve initiates a good tradition to
hold important international scientific assemblies in the late fall of each
year. Such events help to restore the former fame of the “Hutsul Paris”
(called so in early XX c.) to the scenic town of Rakhiv in Transcarpathia, venue
of the conference. This proves, without overstatement, great success of the
international conference “Mountains and People” (2003) and the present
“Natural forests in the Temperate Zone of Europe – Values and
Utilisation”, already mentioned in the subheading. This year’s conference
assembled quite reputable audience, which was above 200 representatives of the
scientific elite from 26 countries (unfortunately, it was impossible to receive
all persons interested) – from Netherlands to Iran, from Greece to the Great
Britain, from Russia to Romania…
The event was carried out under the patronage of the Council of Europe,
WWF, IUCN and IUFRO. Without fail, such support of the authoritative
international political, scientific and nature conservation institutions proves
the deserved authority of our scientists-biologists in the eyes of respectable
foreign colleagues, shows scientific and practical actuality of their workings
and reflects great interest of the European community to the Ukraine.
Carrying out of this conference was an important stage of fruitful
co-operation between the worldwide known Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL
and the Ukrainian Carpathian Biosphere Reserve. The managers of the institutions
Mario F. Broggi and Fedir Hamor, certainly, were the principal persons of the
We have no respect for what we have…
After these words, having finished the official part, having
“digested” a thick “Talmud” of shorthand notes of the presented speeches
and reports and having recalled talks in the lobby, let me try to present in
this article the quintessence of what I have heard and seen.
Indeed, the Carpathian forests are our national pride and, at the same
time, though it is deplorably to realize – our not dully estimated national
treasure. Notwithstanding our recently adopted State Program “Forests of the
Ukraine”, Law “About moratorium on clear cuttings in the fir-beech forests
of the Carpathian region”, newly prepared version of the Forest Code etc.,
such documents, in fact, have a tendency to decrease the forest areas – in
spite of the departmental statistics.
And it is when the Ukraine is generally one of the least afforested
territories in Europe. Besides, in connection with the uncontrolled human
activity the ecological problems increase each year in the browsed pine forests,
groves and oak forests, especially, in the very Carpathian region. Though there
is a contrast situation. Despite thoughtless felling of everything, that has a
large stem and is of material value, in the plain and upland areas, it is not so
easy to fell our “green friend” to the roots.
One cannot imagine, that in Transcarpathia there are still preserved
large areas of virgin forests (“primeval, untouched forests- according to the
explanatory dictionary). And one cannot hear clattering of an axe and a patrol
driven power saw in the forests, where life of the local flora and fauna, within
many centuries, flows due to the wise laws of evolution.
To get familiarized with this, let me quote it as “the lost world”
according to one famous fantast. Scientists and tourist groups from Austria,
Germany, Slovakia, France, the Czech
Republic, Switzerland and
other countries often visit this area to touch the eternity, to breath in the
clean and fresh air of the past, or to see suddenly a bird, insect or plant,
species and populations of which have vanished “not without help” of the
In the opinion of foreign specialists
The article “What are the virgin forests of Transcarpathia for us”,
published 4 years ago in the well-known Swiss newspaper “Neue Zuricher
Zeitung” said that “virgin forests and cultural landscapes of Transcarpathia
are the ideal base for the comparison with the actual themes of forest
management, nature and landscape conservation in Switzerland”.
In a year, in the presentation at the international conference
“East-West: nature and human values”, held in the Alpine Republic, the
expert of the Council of Europe, director of the Swiss Federal Research
Institute WSL, Dr. Mario F. Broggi expressed his opinion more specifically:
”today these great riches, (i.e. virgin forests of Transcarpathia), that
contain extremely valuable information on the evolution of forest and climate,
species and nature conservation become objects of joint investigations for the
scientists of the Western and Eastern Europe. Such co-operation creates an
excellent platform for the researchers from western and eastern countries, gives
an opportunity to exchange information, ideas as well as ensures preconditions
for the European network of ecological investigations.
So, it seems that the world science did not lose interest in us.
Professor of the department for Countryside and Community Research Unit of the
University of Gloucestershire of the United Kingdom Mr. Bill Slee, in the
presentation “Social-economic values of the natural forests”, one of the
most noticeable at the assembly, expressed his opinion very pragmatically.
“Natural forests favor society and economy in different complex ways, - I
quote in translation. – If social-economic values, associated with such
forests cannot be adequately recounted and properly reflected in policy and
management systems, there could emerge a danger, that certain types of values
(often financial resources from timber harvesting), without counting any other
non-market values, might hinder the multifunctional optimum”.
In other words, untouched natural forests are the most exact standards
of evolutionary processes, which are going on in our planet. Such forests
require special treatment, since forests help better understanding of the future
development of the forest in the result of human interference and if necessary
– can make some changes. Such forests are the natural heritage of the world
significance. Furthermore, having acquired within millennia, immunity against
the planetary cataclysms, the virgin forests serve as the ecological stabilizers
and regulators of water run-offs that minimize the outcomes of floods and
practically prevent slides. Such is the role of the virgin forests in the
opinion of the world science.
The utilization and conservation of the local forests has an ancient
history, closely connected with the development of civilization, alteration of
social and economic relations, administrative-territorial division etc. Within
many centuries forests were destroyed by ignorance, self-interest and poverty,
which do not want to admit and observe the law. The lower is the level of
progress of the society and agriculture, in particular, the higher is the level
of life at the expense of forest, and the lower attention is paid to the forest
regeneration, reforestation and forest conservation.
Beautiful and useful
Strategy of the safe treatment of nature by Homo sapiens was also
determined at the conference, since it is impossible to separate human being
from the environment. Though, it is necessary to outline the regulations of
treatment of this green temple. It means to create scientific backgrounds for
the development of the very popular today in all civilized countries ecological
tourism. And with respect to this, scientists of the CBR do not lag behind. Last
summer I saw under my own eyes, figuratively speaking, the first shoots of such
tourism deeply rooted in Keveliv forestry of the CBR, where Vasyl Verbitskyi is
One cannot deny that representatives of “the wandering tribe” have
visited these scenic sites, with the footpaths to Hoverla, Petros and Chornohora
and up to the ruins of the observatory, constructed at the beginning of the last
century, in old days of Poland. Although, recollecting the cultural level of
such tourists, even today you clutch at your head. For the most part, sites
visited by the soviet tourist, resemble the areas after the invasion of the
Mongolian hordes. The present well-bred successor cannot be satisfied only with
the campfire, primitive “shashlyk” and the excessive drinking of alcohol
“to the accompaniment of a guitar” in the open air. Such person seeks to
enjoy with sober eyes the unique beauty of the scenery and strives for the
spiritual freedom following the principle “travel, take pleasure and
Therefore, for such very respectable guest, who is going to visit the
elite primeval forests, specialists of the CBR have already prepared information
stands and maps of the exotic routes. There is a very limited amount of finances
available for the construction of buildings to spend overnight in the Keveliv
forestry. Although sites for the tents with the appropriate accessories,
including biotoilets, modern tents, tent sticks and firewood for the campfire
etc., are already arranged.
Fedir Hamor is positive that the “proletarian-international”
tourism, which was strongly encouraged until recently should change its status
and priorities. Tourism should change its type. Having been so far a kind of the
sport entertainment, today it should transform into the aesthetically
educational tourism. To live in harmony with nature, to feel oneself as a small
alive part of it – what else can be better for an ordinary person, tired of
everyday stresses in this restless unpredictable century.
I apologize for the “lyrical digression” from the main topic, but as
for me, future of the Ukrainian Carpathians, their recovery as strongly depends
on the development of the civilized ecological tourism as solid monographs of
the titled academicians.
“Bless the forests…”
Let me finish with my few, personal impressions. The international
language of scientists, as it is generally known, is English. This language
prevailed at the above mentioned conference, but what was the most pleasant
thing, that both our accredited young fellow countrymen post-graduates and
respectable professors from Uzhhorod, Lviv, Chernivtsi and Kiev could easily
communicate and express their ideas with foreign colleagues without
interpreters. So, that was at least a small step forward to the world community.
We could not even imagine this happening 15 years ago.
There were active discussions, clarifications of scientific positions
and a few hour debates while driving in the old “Ikarus” buses
(unfortunately along the roads of the same age), to the last stop of the journey
– famous virgin forests, especially the last 20 km to Uholka, in Tiachiv
district (with muddy puddles).
Despite rainy weather, owing to the faultless organization (I cannot
stand from thanking my old friends deputy directors of the CBR Dmytro Sukhariuk
and Vasyl Pokynchereda, who proved to be the first-class guides with their
“O’K!” in English) the respectful audience successfully overcame few
kilometers of the steep slopes of beech virgin forests, lively communicating
with each other.
I remember unintentionally overheard conversation of two scientists from
Unfortunately our scientific vocabulary still adheres to the ominous
times of “nature transformation”, - said one.
Ask what does the common term “clear cutting” mean to the Swiss or
Finn? You would not get any answer. Such scientific conception is not used
there, was never used and I think, will not be used in the future. So, may
be, it is time for us to refuse from this term, as well.
I agree with the professor that we have to refuse from “clear
cuttings”. In the nature utilization one should refuse from many cunning
ethical postulates of the totalitarian regime. We cannot forget Tourgenev’s
“nature is not a temple, it is a workshop”. That was, actually, a call to
outrage upon our native land in the mournfully memorable “nature
transformation” post-war period.
Should we, spoiled by the mentioned fables, children of the unfavorable
in ecological aspect XXI century, paraphrasing the “national academician”
wait for the “bounties favors from nature”… after all that was done to it?
Or, may be, the primeval forests still inspire some last hope?