In home and foreign mass media the consequences of catastrophic floods in Transcarpathia are very actively discussed.  Some authors, especially those, involved in forestry science and practice, in every way give reasons for the absence of economic management impact in mountains on the outcomes of flood. Others, on the contrary, confirm in the aggressive form, that we have such catastrophic consequences owing only to clear fellings of forests on slopes. The appeals are heard to find and make answerable those who are guilty. Even the expressions from one Romanian newspaper are quoted on the intention of Romanian government to take it into the International Court to claim damages from Ukraine, incurred by this year flood to the Tysa riverside Romanian counties. The generalized materials of the Slovak press are also quoted, according to which one should seek the reasons of floods, occuring for the last decades in Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and western regions of Ukraine, in the methods of economy management in the Carpathians. We flatly do not share the opinions of those who are searching for guilty. But  we speak in support of an objective analysis of the ecological reasons of the catastrophic natural disasters, of the search of ways on the decrease of their destructive impact in the future.


In the last decades, regions of the Ukrainian Carpathians periodically incur great human, material and moral losses from the catastrophic floods and other ecological disasters. But the most affected from these natural disasters are Transcarpathia and neighbouring European countries. Thus, in the result of flood in 1970 on the rivers of Tysa and Prut, Hungary and Romania have incurred losses equal to ten per cent of their annual national income. The floods of 1992-1993 have incurred losses to the Transcarpathian region in the amount equal to hundred of millions of the U.S.A. dollars.

The losses from  floods of 1998 are even larger. Great losses to national economy also incur  erosion processes, landslides and mud flows. Therefore, declaration of the Transcarpathian region  as a zone of emergency ecological situation is especially actual. The anxiety causes the fact, that in the adopted, in connection with this, documents not a word is mentioned on the liquidation of reasons of the catastrophic floods, generated by short-sighted human activity.

75% of the Transcarpathian region is a mountainous area. 9429 rivers with the total lenght of 19866 km flow within its territory. The average density of their network is 1.7 km  per 1 sq. km, and is the largest one in Ukraine. Taking into account all this, Transcarpathia refers to the regions with a special ecological vulnerability.

However, despite this, in the course of many decades, without taking into account the specificity of mountainous conditions, the unreasoned intensive management was and,  is conducted! here. The clear fellings of forests, unsystematic construction of roads and skidding portages, oil- and gas-pipes, lines of electrical transmission, ploughing up of the steep slopes, overpasturing of cattle etc. are conducted in big amounts, especially from the post-war period. In the opinion of  ecologists the environmental balance is disturbed here for a long time. And therefore, speaking today on the reasons of catastrophic floods one should clearly realize that beside natural cataclysmes, manifesting periodically in the form of excessive precipitation, whatever the opponents may object,  nevertheless one of the main factors is excessive fellings of forests in the past and the attendant management.

It is entirely clear, that the percentage decrease of woodland, lowering of the upper forest line, radical replacement of the age structure of tree-stands, transformation of mixed forests into the monocultures in large areas have essentially disturbed the water and hydrological regime of the considerable watersheds. Mass clear fellings of forests in the mountainous part of Transcarpathia have caused to the fact, that today young and middle-aged tree-stands extend for seventy per cents, and in separate  forestries, e.g. Yasinianske forestry, where the upper watershed of the Tysa river is formed, this index is higher and essentially exceed the limits of scientifically substantiated standards. And it is known, that forest ecosystem conducts in full measure the function of water regulation only at the age of 100 years and more.

According to the conclusions of the academician M. A. Holubets the profound anthropogenic changes of biocoenotic cover have stipulated the increase of the surface flow in four times, and decrease of the total evaporation the evaporation of water, lingering on the crowns of trees in 10 per cents. Besides, in the result of great erosion processes in the mountains, the silting of the Tysa river beds and its tributaries occurrs, and thus also furthering the increase of water level in them. In accordance with some calculations, the rivers of Transcarpathia annually carry out nearly 1.8 million tons of the solid sediments. In the period of heavy rains this amount of sediments increase in several times, falls on the bottom of  rivers and change the river beds.

Now, a conversation in all levels is hold on the fact, that for the last years the forest fund in Transcarpathia, determined by the designed wood-cutting area,  is not enough developing. And it is true. But not enough is said that now, timber fellings are quite often conducted along the river sides, mountain streams and close to the motor-car roads. In many places the water-protected forest zones are distroyed and even willows and alders along the banks are cut down.

The eloquent confirmation of the fact, that from the regime of forest use depends to the great extent the degree of losses incurred by floods can serve the virgin forests of Uholsko-Shyrokoluzhanskyi massif of the Carpathian biosphere reserve. In zone of their location neither in previous years nor today, the flood has incurred such great losses, like for instance in the neighbouring Ust-Chornianska valley, where there is if not the largest amount of fellings even now.

One may list many other constituent reasons of floods (liquidation of the existed formerly dams, unsystematic disposing of gravel and stones, cluttering up of the mountain streams by the remains of timber fellings, absence of the proper riverside fortification etc.). But today it is reasonable to concentrate together on the liquidation of consequences of natural disaster, on the working-out of measures for the elimination of their reasons.

On 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 allways be endangered not only with floods, but also other natural calamities. Therefore,  considering  these problems, one may believe that first of all it is necessary to think of the limitation or even refusal, as it was done in many mountainous countries of Europe, from clear fellings of forest in the mountains. Such decision could be wholly consonant with the Forest code of Ukraine, in the 3-rd clause of which is emphasized that "forests of Ukraine... conduct mainly ecological (water-protected, protective, sanitary-hygienic, sanitation, recreational) aesthetical, training and other functions, have limited operational significance and are subjected to inventory and protection". Secondly, taking into account the experience of foreign countries, it is necessary to work out and introduce the State programme of anti-flood measures, especially in the upper flow of the Tysa river and its largest tributaries. Thirdly, with the aim of creation the favourable conditions for the introduction of ecologically safe types of activity, in particular development of tourism-recreational industry, to create special ecologic-economic zones in the upper reaches of Tysa, in territory of the Rakhiv district and other mountainous parts of Transcarpathia. And fourthly, to take measures for the expansion of a network of objects of nature-protected fund, first of all the territory of the Carpathian biosphere reserve, the model of which enables to combine the activity on nature conservation with the interests of local population.

Moreover,  attention should be paid to the problem, which was vividly manifested after the flood.  It is the problem of everyday wastes. The condition of banks of the Tysa river and other rivers is horrifying. Today they serve as the real rubbish chutes. All  riverside stands of trees, in the distance of several meters height, from the remote mountainous settlements and, evidently, to the very Danube river are shrouded in various everyday wastes, thrown out cellophane bags and other needless things. All these threaten not only the rise of epidemics, but also undermine the image of Ukraine. All the authorities concerned, should carry on  resolute struggle with this shameful fact.

I consider that the proposed measures will not only decrease the probability of floods, but also create preconditions for the practical introduction in the Carpathian region of the Sustainable Development Strategy, adopted at the UNO conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

F. D. Hamor - director of the Carpathian

biosphere reserve,  academician of the Ukrainian

Ecological Academy of Sciences, doctor of biological sciences

Newspaper “Holos Ukrainy” 26/01/1999