5th Anniversary of Danube Biosphere Reserve: the Ukraine Authorities Try to
Since 2000, as you know, the Ministry of Transport of Ukraine lobbies the
construction of navigable channel the Danube - the Black Sea in especially
protected zone of the Danube Biosphere reserve, through Bystroye estuary.
The public campaign in protection of the reserve lasts since the end of
2001, but in 2003 the significant events that in our opinion need comment
In the end of November 2002 the Minister of transport G.Kirpa have submitted
to L.Kouchma, the President of Ukraine, the project of President's decree on
separation of 5600 hectares of area of the Danube Biosphere reserve for
construction of navigable channel. Given draft was declined after the
President's administration received more than 300 fax and e-mail messages
with protests against construction from more than 60 countries of the world.
President of Ukraine L.Kouchma evaded making the decision of the problem and
charged the Council of National Security of Ukraine with solution of the
problem of restoration of navigation on Ukrainian part of Danube.
In the face of the European Ministerial Conference "Kiev-2003" the Ukrainian
authorities haven't took the risk of making the definite decision on the
urgent problem. During all the spring conferences were held on this issue.
The reaction of public on these conferences were letters of protest against
construction of the channel through the territory of the reserve. Thanks to
your concern the Danube reserve have lived up to the European Ministerial
After the conference "Kiev-2003" the events around the reserve became speed
up: the most important action, which drew attention of all the world to
Ukraine have passed into history. the European Ministerial Conference was
closed 23rd May and 6th June the session of the Security Council of Ukraine
was held, which was devoted to the question of Danube delta. 10th June on
basing on the decision of the Security Council the President of Ukraine have
signed the decree which concerns existence of the reserve and the prospects
of construction of navigation canal in the delta of Danube.
The President's decree contained mainly the instructions to the Government
- to held in three months a state environmental impact assessment and to
choose the variant of deep-water channel "the Danube - the Black Sea", then
to create "experimental" navigation channel;
- to "optimize" the borders of the Danube Biosphere reserve including its
especially protected area, withdrawing the branches of Danube "necessary for
development of water transport";
- to submit in two months the proposals on change of the Law of Ukraine "On
Natural and Reserve Resources" for realization of Seville Strategy for
biosphere reserves and for improvement of management by Danube Biosphere
It is necessary to note that the decree contains cunning decision "to create
experimental navigation channel" - because it is quite possible to lay a
channel through the area of the reserve as an experiment. The experiment
would be, to all appearances, on the unique natural area.
Judging by the following actions of Ukraine authorities, by "optimization of
the borders" and "change of the law for realization of Seville Strategy" is
implied the increase in economical activity on the territories of natural
reserves in Ukraine. Up to now the Ukraine legislation somehow prevented
from their destruction.
It is remarkable that the decree in such words that it can have many
interpretations. One of the interpretations - supported by the Ministry of
Transport of Ukraine and the representatives - says as if the decree allows
withdrawal of all the water area from the reserve.
But even after "as though" withdrawal of the water the total area of the
reserve in the documents hasn't been changed. With what it would be
compensated and whether the lawmakers thought about accordance of the areas,
it is impossible to understand. In addition no applications were receives by
the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine on this issue,
though any change of the reserve must be authorized by the ministry
according to the law.
According to Ukrainian legislation, the essential part of state impact
assessment is environmental assessment of the project. It was realized on
given project in 2001 and was rejected by the Ministry of Ecology and
Natural Resources because in the documents the alternative variants of
channel construction weren't considered, and infringement of legislation was
made in it: the projects such as navigable channel are prohibited by the
In the documents of the new assessment set by the President's decree in 2003
and made by the representatives of Kiev National University all the same
breaches of the law were committed, and many other infringements were added.
First of all it bases on the assumption that Bystroye estuary will be
withdrawn from the reserve. Second, the biodiversity in those documents was
estimated by the geologists. Third, the conclusion of the assessment is
based only on the documents that give preference to construction of the
channel through Bystroye estuary and ignore other variants. The public
opinion weren't considered in the assessment.
So, the second assessment haven't took into account the requirements of the
Ministry of Ecology and Nature Resources of Ukraine to the previous
assessment. Nevertheless in July 2003 it was approved by A.Gritsenko, the
deputy minister of ecology and nature resources.
Following the incomprehensible decision of the deputy minister, the radical
environmental organization "Earth Above All!" have held the piquet in front
of the Ministry in the August. No official reaction of the piquet was
published at all.
After that, 2nd August 2003 Kiev Environmental and Cultural Center and
"Pechenegi" environmental group lodge a complaint against the conclusions of
the assessment made by Kiev National University to V.Yanukovitch, the prime
minister of Ukraine.
August 10 is 5th anniversary of foundation of the Danube Biosphere reserve.
Dear friends, please, send your congratulations to the reserve. Its
collective is in difficulties now and our moral support would be a great
support: it is essential for them as never before to feel that they aren't
alone in their fight.
The e-mail of the collective of the Danube Biosphere reserve:
S.Shaparenko, "Pechenegi" environmental group,
Ukraine Coalition "For Wild Nature"
Back to "Save the Danube biosphere reserve!" page