The flood, which again happened in Zakarpattia, requires not just liquidation of  its destructive outcomes, but an objective analysis of reasons, which intensify the destructive action of  catastrophic hazards in the Carpathian region. Besides all discussions in the society regarding this problem, scientists-ecologists and a considerable part of population think that one of the reasons of this disaster is the disturbance of   ecological balance in the mountains. This opinion, for example, was completely supported at many scientific forums, in particular at the international scientific-practical conference “Ecological and social-economic aspects of the catastrophic hazards in the Carpathian region (floods, mud flows and landslides)” (Rakhiv, 1999). In the result of centuries old economy management in the mountains, woodlands of the Ukrainian  Carpathians have decreased from 95 to 53 per cent, the upper timber line has decreased in 200-300 meters. The age structure of tree stands is disturbed.  More than 70 per cent of their part constitutes young stands and middle aged stands, the water regulated role of which is much lower than in ripening and overmature forests. The spruce monocultures, which  also hold less humidity, were formed in the area of above 100 ths. hectars. Besides, big ploughing up of the steep slopes, degradation of meadows in the result of  overpasturing, an overall use of the tractor timber skidding from the mountains, unsystematic construction of roads and portages, oil- and gas-pipes, lines of electrical transmission cause great erosion processes, resulting in mud flows, landslides, drifting of the mountain river beds and streams. That’s why, in the expert’s conclusion of the state commission on the questions of  study  the reasons of the catastrophic flood in Zakarpattya, signed by the leaders of 9 ministries and governmental departments of Ukraine is written: “it is reasonable to conduct measures on the reorganization of economic complex of the mountainous part of Zakarpattya to the side of development the ecological-safe types of activity, specifically expansion of the recreational use of forests and increase the area of nature-protected territories. With the aim of ensuring the favourable conditions for the development of tourism-recreational industry, in the upper reaches of the Tysa basin, special ecological-economic zones, first of all in the territory of the Rakhiv district, should be created”.

Unfortunately, nothing of this has been done yet, though the anthropogenic destruction of mountain ecosystems is going on. More over, according to the data of the state statistics bodies, only in Zakarpatska oblast the amounts of timber fellings, conducted mainly in a form of clear cuttings, with the use of ecologically harmful technologies, has  increased in a half  last year in comparison with 1997. It is worth to mention  that in the result of long-term investigations of the impact of cuttings on the water balance structure of watershed basins, the famous scientist-forester O.V. Chubatyi in the monograph “Mountainous forests – regulators of water regime”(1984) came to the conclusion, “that damage, which is caused to environment by the disturbance of optimal hydrological conditions of forest massifs in the economic aspect could be more essential than the value of timber, withdrawn from forest biocenosis”. In this background, statements of the National Academy of Sciences on these items, published in the local press on the eve of this year flood, look very debatable.

Therefore, according to our deep convictions, notwithstanding the big amount of finances, allocated by our state for the liquidation of consequences of the catastrophic floods, if there is not reorganization of the national economic complex of the mountainous part of Transcarpathia in regard to the development of ecologically harmless types of activity, this land will always be endangered not only with floods, but also other natural calamities. This eloquently confirm the experience of neighboring mountainous European countries. 

Taking into account all these, to decrease the probability of catastrophic hazards origin in the mountains, it would be reasonable to adopt the Decree of the President of Ukraine on the additional  measures of the catastrophic hazards’ origin study and prevention in the  Carpathian region, in which to envisage:

Firstly, large-scale complex investigations of the status of natural mountainous ecosystems of the Carpathian region and, with taking into account the experince of the European mountainous countries, to develop ecologically substantiated anti-flood and anti-erosion measures in the upper reaches of the Tysa, Dniester, Prut and other mountainous rivers.

Secondly, adoption of the State programme on the reorganization of the economic complex of the mountainous part of  Zakarpattia to the side of  development the ecologically safe types of activity, creation here of the tourism-recreational industry, enlargement of  the area of nature-protected territories;

Thirdly, with taking into account  a special role of  the upper reaches of the Tysa river in the formation of catastrophic floods and with the aim of  working out the model of sustainable development in the mountainous regions of the Carpathians, submission to the Supreme Rada of the Law’s  draft on the introduction in the Rakhiv district of Zakarpatska oblast the ecological-economic experiment which will give favorable crediting , taxation and customs privileges to the subjects of management, who are developing ecologically  safe types of activity.

Finally, in connection with the preparation to celebrate year 2000 as the Year of Mountains,  declared  by UNESCO,  conduction of  the complex of measures to improve the social-economic situation of mountain-dwellers, conservation of natural and cultural heritage of mountains, improvement of ecological-training work and formation of ecological culture of the population.

The adoption of such document could create a positive image for Ukraine on the eve of the Summit of  Heads of States of the Carpathian region, the conduction of which is envisaged in Bucharest this spring, on the initiative of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). 

                                                                                                                        Fedir Hamor ,

                                                           director of the Carpathian biosphere reserve, Doctor of biological sciences

 Newspaper “Uriadovyi kuryer” 17/03/2001