Shatskyi National Park – A Blend of Rivers, Moors and Forests
Much of Ukraine is covered by beautiful natural vegetation, which is slowly being encroached on for farming and hunting purposes. In order to protect these natural areas and the creatures that seek refuge within them, the government has steadily been establishing a number of national parks in Ukraine. One such park is the Shats’kyi National Park situated in the Volyn Region of the country. This magnificent national park was made a protected natural environment in 1983 and eventually became a designated Biosphere Reserve in 2002. It is situated roughly 160 kilometers northwest of Lutsk and borders the Polesie Biosphere Reserve in Poland.
The reason that both the Shatskyi National Park in Ukraine and the Polesie Biosphere Reserve in Poland have been made specially protected wilderness areas, is because they both have rather unique geographical features. Their blend of rivers, lakes, moors and forests are somewhat unusual for the area and the Ramsar site, near the Shatsk Lakes, are a important for waterfowl who winter, migrate and molt here. The Shatskyi National Park features an impressive 23 different lakes – the biggest of which is Lake Svityaz. Lake Svityaz is the deepest and largest natural lake in Ukraine, so this gives the park added importance. Together all 23 lakes cover a surface area of some 6.3 thousand hectares! With such an abundance of clean, fresh water one can only begin to imagine the lush vegetation and healthy Ukrainian wildlife that this nature reserve serves to protect. Of the hundreds or thousands of plant species found in the reserve, some 28 different plant species and 33 animal species are listed in the Red Book of Ukraine. Thus, the park’s role in the preservation and protection of these various plant and animal species simply cannot be overlooked.
It is interesting to note that more than 12,000 people live in the biosphere’s transition area where they are engaged in agriculture, tourism and other public services. Because of the proximity to such a special natural attraction, many of the people living in this area belong to different cultures, nationalities and religions. In addition to this variety, roughly 100,000 tourists visit the reserve, including the transition zone, each year. While the business opportunities created by this tourism contribute to a significant portion of the local economy, communities have made earnest efforts to ensure that any economic development does not negatively effect the biosphere reserve. Doing so not only ensures the survival of the reserve, but also increases the longevity of their livelihoods. So visit this beautiful national park in Ukraine and discover the wonders of the Shatskyi National Park for yourself.