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24.04.2009

Full-frontal onslaught on land resources

   

Environmentalists warn that an attack on land resources is being waged in Ukraine. They believe that rampant violation of land legislation, uncontrolled seizures of land and changes in its designated purpose are leading to major destruction of natural areas and are the basis for all our environmental ills. On the other hand, the environmental movement is also gaining strength.

The rubbish dumps are filled with waste which is not being recycled. Ukrainians are also virtually losing free access to the majority of natural sites. On river banks there are expensive buildings and almost all the lakes have been handed over on long-term lease (read ownership).

Representatives of the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine [NECU] and the nature protection guard “Green Future” [“Zelene maibutnye”] warn that if the situation continues, people will soon not be able to swim or just relax on the banks of rivers, etc at all.

Ivan Parnykoza from “Green Future” warns: “There is presently an attack on land being waged and that’s the root of all problems. In each populated area, in all regions people are seizing land. Legislation is being totally violated, the designated purpose of land, in the first instance, nature reserve zones, is being changed”. He adds that few parks have natural borders, State acts for the land, etc.

They believe that the only thing that can save them is Europe, since the authorities’ pro-European orientation means that they can’t ignore standards on the amount of nature reserve territory.

It was not by chance that the President issued a Decree in 2008 on the creation of new nature parks, with over 40 such parks, as well as areas where it’s prohibited to carry out any building work, being created.

According to Oleksa Vasylyuk from NECU: “Without this 10-12% of nature reserve land, Ukraine will not make a step closer to Europe, and that fills us with optimism. We’re glad that bureaucrats finally see a cogent argument for increasing the amount of reserve land”.

Another cause for optimism is the general renewal of the environmental movement and its determination to fight lawlessness.

One successful court case was brought by the Kyiv Environmental and Cultural Centre together with “Ecopravo-Kyiv”. In November last year a Kyiv court terminated proceedings initiated by the management of the State Committee of the Forest Industry against the leader of the Kyiv Environmental and Cultural Centre. The court agreed that the actions of the State Committee for the Forest Industry had led to the destruction of the bison population in Ukraine. Until then a resolution had been in force allowing a so-called selective cull with the involvement of foreign specialists. In fact, of course, what was in question was illegal bison hunts in which the head of the department on hunting of the State Committee for the Forest Industry M. Shabura was implicated. The latter had filed a defamation suit, but the court found that the allegations did have substance. ‘

Based on information at www.radiosvoboda.org  and from material soon to be published in Human Rights in Ukraine – 2008.

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