Elite of the European forest science in Transcarpathia

 In October 12-17, 2003 the International scientific conference “Natural forests in the temperate zone of Europe – values and utilization” will be held in Transcarpathia.

We welcome participants of the conference.

For the sustainable forest utilization

 The international conference in Transcarpathia will number above 200 participants, representing the scientific elite from 26 countries of the Western and Eastern Europe. The conference will discuss great scientific and practical vital problems, reflect a strong interest of the European community to Ukraine and show the confidence and deserved international recognition of its organizers – the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) and the Ukrainian Carpathian Biosphere Reserve.

The conference is especially significant thanks to its organization under the patronage of the Council of Europe, WWF, IUCN and IUFRO. The support of these authoritative international political, scientific and nature conservation institutions shows the importance of this scientific event in Ukraine.

The organizing and international scientific committees made much effort for the preparation of the conference. All necessary conditions for the conduction of the conference were provided thanks to its sponsors – Transcarpathian Regional Council, Swiss engineering advisory company “Chronotek AG” (Luzern), Swiss watches company “Mondein” (Zurich), Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation (DEZA), Swiss National Scientific Foundation as well as managers of many enterprises and organizations from Mukachevo, Tiachiv and Rakhiv districts.   

Thanks to the financial support of the Swiss company “Velux”, producing window blocs, a wonderful color scientific-popular book “Primeval forests in the center of Europe. A guidebook along the forests of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve” was published in German and Ukrainian languages in the framework of the conference. This guidebook will certainly help to promote natural and cultural values of our land, especially in the West.

The conduction of the conference and publication of this book is an important result of the long-term co-operation of the Ukrainian and Swiss scientists within the Institutional Partnership project, supported by the Swiss National Scientific Foundation. Therefore, we hope with the help of this forum to make this co-operation more profound, to open new possibilities for the new scientific and business projects, to implement the ideas of sustainable forest utilization in Ukraine. And the most important thing is that this conference will contribute to the formation of a positive image of Transcarpathia and stimulate further social-economic development.

It should be stressed that from all the great riches of our land, the unique virgin forest ecosystems have the greatest interest among the European foresters and tourist agencies.

One can often see scientists and tourist groups from Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic as well as other countries coming here to get familiar with this richness. The role of these riches is often discussed in scientific conferences and in the mass media. Thus, in the article “What are for us the virgin forests of Transcarpathia”, published in 1999 on the pages of the well-known Swiss newspaper “Neue Zurcher Zeitung” was emphasized: “Virgin and cultural landscapes of Transcarpathia are the ideal base to compare with the vital topics of forestry management in Switzerland and nature and landscape conservation” And in the report at the international conference “East-West: values of nature and man”, the expert of the Council of Europe, director of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research Dr. Mario F. Broggi stressed: “… today these great treasures (that is virgin forests of Transcarpathia F.H.), containing valuable information on the forest development and climate, as well as species and nature conservation, become the objects of joint investigations for the West-East European scientists. Such activity makes a wonderful background for the researchers from the East and West, gives a possibility to exchange information, ideas and creates preconditions for the European network of ecological investigations. Therefore, conduction of the international scientific conference “Natural forests in the temperate zone of Europe – values and utilization” on the basis of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve, is an important stage of the generalization of these investigations, in the evaluation of their role for the science and practice.

When talking about the scientific importance of the Transcarpathian virgin forests one should mention the famous pioneer of the virgin forest investigations and conservation – Alois Zlatnik. In 1930ies this researcher, professor from the Czech town of Brno, found these virgin forests, registered and set up a number of permanent plots there. Many years afterwards another famous Slovak professor of the Transcarpathian origin Ivan Voloschuk renewed and made the repeated inventories on the same plots. The results showed the unique scientific data on the conformity to natural laws of the forest ecosystems development without human impact for the period of nearly sixty years. The similar in time analogues of the virgin ecosystem investigations do not exist.

The western European researchers consider the virgin forests of Transcarpathia as a natural heritage of global significance. Such forests are stable against hazards, possessing ecological stabilizing and water regulative significance. The importance of the virgin forests is growing due to the small remnants of virgin ecosystems in the European continent, found only in the eastern and southeastern Europe, with the exception of the north coniferous forests. The remnants of virgin forests in the Alps are presented in Austria and Switzerland. Moreover, the exploitation history of such forests is sometimes unknown. The European virgin forest sites have an area from 50 to 100 hectares, and the solid massifs of above 1000 hectares in area are found rarely. This concerns especially, pure beech forests. Therefore, such large virgin ecosystems as Uholsko-Shyrokoluzhanskyi massif, with an area of about 10 000 hectares, are unique in Europe. In this part of the world, virgin forests are preserved mainly in the difficult to access regions, high in the mountains. Therefore, coniferous species prevail in such forests. However, in the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve, about 80% of virgin forests make broad-leaf stands. One-third of the reserve’s forests are natural and of the primeval origin. Such forests are strictly protected and rationally used in scientific and ecological-training purposes. The scientific investigations in virgin forests are being strongly stirred up after the European Diploma award of the Council of Europe to the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve. In particular, together with the Swiss Federal Institute (WSL) a number of projects on the study of the dynamics number of the invertebrate populations in beech virgin forests and Swiss managed forests were initiated. In 2000 and 2001 to analyze the structure of the Uholka virgin forests and to regenerate “Silwald” near Zurich, the permanent plots of 10 hectares in area were set up. On the basis of investigations conducted in the Swiss and Ukrainian scientific publications a number of papers on the improvement methods of forestry management according to the principles of sustainable development were published. Some other important practical recommendations were worked out.

Ukraine is one of the least forested territories in Europe. There are a lot of problems in the Ukrainian forests, especially in the Carpathian region. The results of the given investigations, scientific achievements and European experience of the sustainable forest utilization, in general, could be very useful for the foresters of our region. Especially, as reports on the latest achievements of the European forest science and practice will be represented at the conference. In particular, problems of the forest influence on the run-off formation, social-economic values of natural forests and their role for biodiversity conservation will be considered by the leading scientists from Finland, Great Britain, Switzerland and Ukraine on the plenary sessions. The modern treatment of the role of old forests for the forestry development etc. will be also clarified. These and other problems will be discussed in details also at the 12 sessions and 2 poster sessions. The practical aspects of structure and dynamics of the natural and managed beech and fir-beech forests, their role for the development of tourism, different problems of management and conservation of the forest ecosystems will be discussed during the excursions to Uholka and Chornohirskyi virgin forests. The participants of the conference will get familiarized with the cultural values of Transcarpathia. In particular, the participants will see the performance of the Transcarpathian folk chorus; visit the Castle of Mukachevo and other values of our land.

The volume of the conference abstracts will be published before the conference and available at the largest scientific libraries of Ukraine.

Finally, it should be stressed that: conduction of this large international scientific conference on the basis of virgin forests of Transcarpathia once again emphasized the international significance of such forests. One could strongly hope, that in Ukraine the role of such forests will be also properly estimated. One will see in virgin forests, like in natural ones, both a source of the free timber and a great national and cultural heritage of the scientific and touristic value. Therefore, at least to Uholsko-Shyrokoluzhanskyi and Chornohirskyi virgin forest we shall have in the nearest future the asphalt roads, constructed hotels and other infrastructure. As a result, conditions for the more efficient utilization of virgin forests in the scientific and ecological-training purposes will be formed. The ecotourists will come here, bringing new working places for the local residents as well as a good fame to the Transcarpathian land.


Fedir Hamor

Co-chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Conference,

Director of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve,

Doctor of Biological Sciences