Country Profiles

Ukraine - Country Profile

Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

Occupying less than 6% of the area of Europe, Ukraine possesses 35% of its biodiversity. This is due to its favorable location, with a lot of migration routes and natural zones occurring in the country. Biota comprise over 70 thousand species, including many rare, relict and endemic species. A number of flora and fauna species in need of special protection are included in the Red Data Book of Ukraine (the most recent edition of the Red Data Book of Ukraine (2009) contains 826 species of flora and 542 species of fauna).

Ukraine occupies about 11% of the Carpathian mountain range which encompasses significant environmental, aesthetic, scientific, educational, recreational and health resources. Over the last two centuries, forest cover in the plains and foothills of the Carpathian Mountains has decreased. However, more recently, an annual average increase of vegetation of 4 m3 per ha has occurred (fluctuating from 5 m3 per ha in the Carpathians to 2.5 m3 per ha in the steppe zone). There has also been an increase in the area and number of territories and objects protected under the Nature Reserve Fund (Ukraine’s protected areas network). Natural and semi-natural vegetation cover about 29% of Ukraine’s territory which is represented mostly by forests (15.9% of the territory), meadows, mires, steppes and saline habitats. Some of the species found in the country are endemics and relicts. Almost one-quarter of Ukraine’s floral species is concentrated in forests.

The country boasts of about 63,000 rivers totaling 206,000 km in length, with the area of coastal protection lines along rivers totaling 1.3 million ha. The area of Ukraine’s wetlands comprises around 4.5 million ha. Biological resources of the Black Sea and Azov Sea are depreciating in condition, in general, although in the last years there has been a trend towards improving their condition. As a result of the calamitous condition of red algae (Phyllophora sp.), its exploitation was recently prohibited. In addition, the territories in which the main reserves of red algae are concentrated have been declared botanical zakazniks (game reserves) known as “Phyllophora’s Field of Zernova” (2008) and “Small Phyllophora’s Field of Zernova” (2012). The harvesting of club-rush (a plant of the genus Scirpus) has become an important economic activity in some areas during the winter. Annually, thousands of people are engaged in club-rush harvesting and processing in the wetlands of the Danube Delta.

Positive changes are illustrated by a decrease in the number of polluted lands (particularly those that are radioactively contaminated) used in agriculture, as well as in open land without vegetation cover or with little vegetation. Data from 2012 reveal that, since 2000, there has been an increase of 97.2 thousand ha in the area represented by hayfields and pastures. At present, the conservation of natural habitats of animals and plants occurs mainly through the creation and expansion of institutions under the Nature Reserve (Zapovednik) Fund.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

Major threats to biodiversity include the fragmentation of landscapes, the development of infrastructure and urbanization, pollution, over-exploitation of bioresources, destruction of certain types of landscapes as a result of agricultural activities and the introduction of alien biological species.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The major measures identified in the NBSAP (1998) include: (a) conservation and restoration of coastal, marine, riparian, flood plain, lacustrine, mire, wetland, meadow, steppe, forest and montane ecosystems; (b) preservation of species and populations; (c) ecological optimization of urban landscapes and other highly disturbed territories; (d) “ecologization” of agricultural landscapes and agricultural technologies, as well as existing practices in forestry, fishery, game, land and water management; (e) development of national ecological networks (a system of “green corridors”) as a constituent part of the European Ecological Network (EECONET).

Ukraine is currently revising its NBSAP. To date, Aichi Biodiversity Targets relevant to national priorities, including Target 11 on protected areas, have been partially taken into account in the National Action Plan on Environmental Protection (2011-2015), with different options being considered for further incorporating the global targets in this Action Plan, as well as in the State Program on the Development of the National Econet (2000-2015) and other national legislation. The Strategy of State Environmental Policy (2010-2020) also exists as a framework for supporting implementation actions.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The Presidential Decree on additional measures for the development of a nature reserve fund in Ukraine is a major contributor to conservation programs in protected areas. So far, one of the most effective ways to conserve biodiversity has been identified as the preservation of the natural state of key territories through the establishment of an ecological network. The area covered by the nature reserve fund currently comprises 6.05% of the country’s territory (2012); compared to 2000, the area of the nature reserve fund has increased by 1251,9 thousand ha, however this growth rate does not yet meet the expectations of the Program on the Development of the National Econet.

Ukraine’s Program on the Development of the National Econet (2000-2015) (Law of Ukraine, 2000), developed in the context of the requirements of the CBD and Bern Conventions, relates to the further refinement and development of the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy, in respect to the development of a Pan-European EcoNetwork. The principal objective of the program is to increase the country’s area under natural landscapes, to a level sufficient for the preservation of biodiversity and close to the initial natural condition, and to develop a territorially-integrated system. This system will ensure the possibility for species of plants and animals to use natural migration and propagation, which will ensure the preservation of natural ecosystems, species and populations of flora and fauna. Schemes for the Polissky, Halytsko-Slobozhansky and Dnistrovsky eco-corridors, as well as recommendations for the formation of regional eco-networks, were developed during the first phase of the program.

As a result of conservation support provided by the UK Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a management plan for steppe ecosystems was created in the Donetsk region. Scientists and conservationists continue to research the population structure of the steppe groups under the influence of grazing ungulates, with a view to identifying optimal conditions for increasing populations of rare species to ensure self-replication. The most promising method of preservation and restoration of land quality is the ecological-landscape system of land management and agriculture. In this regard, certain programs have been developed at the regional level. One such example is the program for the development of an ecological-landscape system for agriculture, recently implemented in the Luhansk region, the goals of which were to, inter alia, change the structure of the land area by eliminating degraded land from arable land, creating protective forest plantations, preserving farmland with eroded soils.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

Funds for implementation of biodiversity conservation activities at the state level are derived primarily from the state budget, and mainly from the budget for implementing the state program for the creation of a national ecological network. Funding amounted to UAH 4 592 996 in 2011 (~USD 576 285) and UAH 6 429 881 in 2012 (~USD 804 700). Ukraine is also receiving support in the framework of technical cooperation programs. Also, the Ministry of Environmental Protection cooperates with scientific institutions in the field of biodiversity conservation.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

Among the 95 programs for biodiversity monitoring, the details of which were collected in 2007 at the international level, about one-third relate to phytodiversity, with the remainder devoted to monitoring animal species. Most monitoring programs are carried out in the western and southern regions, with smaller programs carried out in the central and eastern parts of the country. The spatial distribution of programs is largely determined by the presence of research centers or nature protection facilities.