Ukraine’s Biosphere Reserves – Part Two

Stretching across the border between Romania and Ukraine, the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve lies at the end of the 2,860km Danube River and consists of dozens of lakes, channels and islands. It is the largest wetland and reed bed in Europe and is vital in the purification of water in the region, which often bears the brunt of pollution by many, if not all, of the nine countries bordering the Danube River upstream. The abundance of water and aquatic vegetation of the Danube Delta offers a refuge for more than 300 bird species, some of which are permanent residents and other being migratory. Large populations of sturgeon are found in the Delta, along with an estimated 90 other species of fish. Declared a Natural World Heritage Site and Ramsar site in 1991, the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve is one of the last refuges for the endangered European mink, freshwater otter, wildcat and monk seal. While over-farming and upstream pollution remain concerns, authorities on both sides of the border hope to conserve the Delta through various cooperative measures.

Located on the Desna River, a tributary of the Dnipro River, the Desnianskyi Biosphere Reserve consists of a wide variety of habitats, including rivers, lakes, bogs, floodplains, peat, swamp, grasslands and broad-leaf, mixed and pine forests. With no major industrial centers in the region, the focus is on agriculture, forestry and tourism. Scientific studies carried out in the region since 1996 include the monitoring of bird migrations and documenting of vegetation types.

Crossing borders between Ukraine, Poland and Slovakia, the East Carpathians Biosphere Reserve is considered to be vital to the conservation of biodiversity in Central Europe. The four distinct vegetation types found within the reserve are beech-fir forest, beech forest, dwarf-shrublands with green alder, and a belt of vegetation devoid of trees. These very different regions offer habitats for a wide range of animals, including brown bears, European bisons, wolves, and lynx. More than a hundred bird species can be found in the East Carpathians including the magnificent golden eagle and black stork.

Located northwest of the city of Lutsk, the Shatskyi Biosphere Reserve includes the Shatsk Lakes Ramsar site, a vital wintering and migration area for waterfowl. Other features of the Reserve include lakes, rivers, moors and forests, offering spectacular scenery and tranquility. An estimated 100,000 tourists visit the area every year, and authorities work with the more than 12,000 people residing in the reserve to live in harmony with the conservation of natural resources.

Part One of Ukraine’s Biosphere Reserves