of Natural Heritage Fund for conservation Dnester delta wetlands
To protect this great ecological value the idea of establishing a national
nature park was started in 1985.
Three years ago, a great dam was constructed
upstream of the river Dnieter (700 km)- Dniestrovskaya hydro PowerStation.
When the dam started to function, the natural spring tides disappeared.
Many birds became more and more rare. In 1986 the Glossy Ibis - the symbol
of the delta migrated permanently and stopped breeding. The Glossy Ibis
is the indicator of the ecological condition of the delta. This was the
last straw for conservationists and they started to take action. Together
with NGO members and collegues Igor Shegolev and Vadim Gontarenko we have
spread information about the importance of biodiversity of the Dnester
delta through newspapers and the Academy of science. This was in order
to get authority to change the operation of the power station and to establish
a protected area. In 1987 the very first NGO in Ukraine was organised.
In the beginning the NGO started to protest against many environmental problems in the coastal area, especially at the Dnester basin. A great example is the blockade of dredging in the Dnister in 1989. The NGO has stopped illegal (without any permission from authority) activities of all Moldavian river seeping companies (they are extracting sand and gravel in the Moldavian part of the Dnester and are collecting and using this material for selling it on the bank of the river in the Ukrainian part). After one week of severe struggle all extraction of sand and gravel from the bottom of the river was completely stopped. It was the first victory of an NGO in the Ukraine to stop such an activity.
In 1989 we suggested to include the wetlands to the list of Important Bird Areas in Europe as well as on an international level.
Ecological education and awareness
From 1987 onwards a yearly ecological expedition was organized to monitor
situations at the delta and to come into action for the protection of
biodiversity and wetlands as a whole.
At the same time, a yearly ecological expedition for children was started.
Children and teachers were brought from local villages and from different
sites together. This way they learned and worked at the same time, while
teachers could help and learn to improve biology at schools.
Later, we expanded to include schools and children from all three sides of the borders of the Ukraine, Moldova and Transdnistria and other countries - Russia, Byelorussia. Over 1700 young ecologists took part in this development and discovered many interesting aspects in the life of nature. This was the beginning of eco- education for children and a cooperation between parents and the communication administration.
We use special educational programmes for children and at all times we
help to maintain the wetlands (clearing nature areas from rubbish, and
small canals from silt).
A Symbol of this activity in the Afro-Eurasia region is the Glossy Ibis
- a key species for the Dnester delta. They nest every year in numbers
of 500-1000 pairs and migrate through the Mediterranean to Africa.
Meanwhile, we have accomplished good communication and cooperation with
the local community - between the local people, nature users and local
authority. Together we are planting trees, cleaning areas of rubbish and
organising ecological information centers, where children can come, work
together and exchange young and fresh ideas.
of protected area
The Dnester delta has a great history. Its history dating back to the Greek times- 2500 years ago. From this time onwards Dnester has surprised people with its wonderful nature and rich natural resources. From this point of view, it can be understood that the area must be protected, as it has rich ecosystems with an abundance of biodiversity. The delta is also a great attraction to people - to give them the possibility to observe it, (excluding the core area of the national park which must be strictly protected) for recreation and some sustainable businesses, like ecotourism. One of the important factors to establish a national park was that the Dnester delta was located near (30 km) the great city- Odessa – populated by more than 1 million people.
However, the first step was very hard. We got a strong opposition and protests from well organised fisherman and hunting societies. Because of the richness in nature, the delta has many poachers. They were against our idea and were influenced by the ideas of the authorities.
To establish a national park under legislation in the former USSR it
was necessary to propose a rich economic alternative on land which will
be excluded from the economy. So formally it was very hard to establish
a national park. Nature reserves used to be easy to manage, but the status
of this protection forbids any activity for the local society - so it
is a strictly protected area. We collected documentation and prepared
scientific documents to establish a nature reserve as the first step to
a future national park. During this period of time we got support from
"Euronature". They have published the emblem of the wetlands
area - the Glossy Ibis- and leaflets about the Dnester delta which we
spread amongst local people and authorities. It was very helpful.
To organise a nature reserve it took 8 years of step by step hard work. In 1993 we established 7620 ha of protected area at the Dnester delta - nature reserve "Dnestrovskie plavny" - the wetlands of the Dnester delta.
After that we started to try and establish a national park. In 1994 the first president of Ukraine - L.Kravchuk had little concern for the preservation of important nature areas, that were eventually established as protected areas, including the Dnester delta. Many years we have worked with local people, local children using different educational programmes, which were supported by EUCC, the Netherlands' ambassy in Kiev, Soros foundation, ISAR (one of them was Green Island) all with the aim that the Dnester delta must be protected as a national park.
In 1996 the Parliament of Ukraine adopted the Ramsar convention and the Dnester delta was included in the list of Internationally Important Wetlands of the Ramsar Convention.
Due to the EECONET Action fund we have organised trips for the local mayors of villages, around the delta area to visit the first National park in the Ukraine - Karpatskiy. This was established in 1980. This trip was of high importance, because after the trip the mayors understood the importance of the park for the local community. After their return from their travels through the nature areas, they tried to persuade all local parliaments of the need for preservation of natural sites. Unfortunately this was not fully successful. There is still a greater need for more action and effort.
During 1997-2000 we have worked with EPCEM (environmental program for students - The Netherlands) on the Dnester delta to investigate the opinion of the local society concerning ideas of the establishment of a national park. It was very successful and the results helped us to move on to some serious decision making.
In 2001 there were several meetings with local authorities to continue with this work and finally to establish a national park in 2002. Local mayors and many of the local parliamentary come to the Danube biosphere reserve to educate themselves on what their function is in protected areas, how local people live over there and how to solve coming problems. This trip was supported partly by the EECONET action fund.
Finally, in 2001 the decision was made that the Belyaevsky is to be established as a national park. Several months before, two others regions - Belgorod-Dniestrovvsky and Ovidiopol adopted the same decisions. On 11 Junuary 2002 the Odessa county council decided to establish a national park on an area of 21400 ha.
Today the Ministry of Ecology and Nature Resources of Ukraine are preparing documents for the president of the Ukraine to adopt into law for the national park on the Dnester delta which resulted from sixteen years of public participation effort for the Dnester delta. This growth resulted from protest changing to cooperation and finally development.
Needs and aim of restoration of the wetlands
Antropogeneous pressure in pools of rivers and, especially in part of the delta caused radical changes. One of the changes was soil erosion and as a consequence the level of mud in the lakes rose in the delta. This is one of the most obvious transformations which has changed a hydrological network of floodplain and has lowered the ecological capacity of wetlands. It has increased to a critical level in many lakes, and some became filled up with mud reaching a thickness of silt of 2,0-2,5 m. This stopped the effective and valuable exchange between different parts of wetlands. Shallow lakes in the central part of the delta completely vanished. These and a number of local antropogeneous transformations of the delta have resulted in the reduction of ecological potential. If this were to continue the richness of the wetlands and ecosystems will have vanished.
Among the local radical transformations of the delta ,is through drainage the leveling of rivers for agricultural needs and artificial fishery. A mass drainage was undertaken in the fifties, however these processes were most heavily observed at the end of the sixties and at the beginning of the seventies. At this time the delta of the Dniestr in the territory of Ukraine and also Moldova was drained and dyked and leveled for more than 8000 ha, which resulted in about 30 % of natural wetlands. The basic part of the wetlands (80 % from all transformed) was removed from a natural cycle in the territory of Moldova. Nowadays practically all wetlands are transformed into farmland and fishponds.
The most important problem of the Dnester Delta, is the lack of water- access from the river to the reedbeds and meadows. The main road through the Dnester Delta, built parallel to the river, is cutting the wetlands off from the river water. The connection of the river with the wetlands is blocked by dikes of agricultural development on the Moldova. This has also caused increased flooding of the road and therefore rising costs of road management. The joint Ukrainian-Moldova water management project re-supplied the wet lands with water from the river. This project was carried out on the Moldova part of the wetlands, but the Ukrainian part of the Dniestr delta was affected as well.
Another wetlands restoration project was related to the improving of ecological conditions in two additional parts of wetlands that were destroyed in the past. Aims of the project were to install a good water exchange between theriver and wetlands by removing part of the dikes, cleaning small creeks and restoring natural connections.
EECONET Action Fund supported all mentioned wetlands restoration projects
which were carried out during 1999-2001 and were named- "Ecobridje",
"Living lakes" and "Birds Oasis".
After the flooding of restored wetlands, ecological capacity sharply increased. This was however at the expense of rich shallow meadow ecosystems that support natural spawning of fish ensuring tens of species of waterfowl food during nesting and migration season.
Thus, nowadays renaturalisation of broken wetlands is one of the major mechanisms of increasing efficiency of wetlands, and preservation and reproduction of a biological diversity in the bottom part of the river Dnester in Ukraine. This restoring site is important for Ukraine and Moldova as it is a major feeding and breeding area for the spoonbill, glossy ibis, pygmy cormorant, white pelican and the great egret. There is also an economic benefit due to reduced management costs for the main road and a largely increased spawning and living area for fish.
The project is sponsored by the EECONET Action Fund (EAF) with official support from the Odessa oblast administration of Ukraine, the Odessa regional agency of Ministry of ecology and nature resources, the local authority of Moldavian village Palanka and the Ministry of Nature Protection of Moldova.
From this moment onwards the public was bringing the authorities from Odessa, Kiev and Moldova together to try to solve their problems. This resulted in a formal request from Moldova to set up a boundary exceeding biosphere reserve. A high status NGO joined and in cooperation with the administration organization for an investigation as to whether a National park utilized by visitors of Mayaky villages could be proof for part of a plan for sustainable development. But there is not always peace.
New road construction through the Natural reserve made another protest action necessary. But this time it was in combination with a political party meeting. The road construction was stopped and the president of the Ukraine and Moldova agreed on the existing boundary exceeding road. A new road became redundant. The new role for the NGO was translated into helping the administration with their problems while continuing their protection of nature.
This information gives you some practical examples of public participation and actions of Ukrainian NGOs in protecting wildlife and in supporting, helping and involving the local community all in the line of sustainable development.