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Responsible institutes

The coastal zone in the Ukraine is under the jurisdiction of the authorities on four levels: national, regional, municipal and local. The Ukraine has no special state agencies responsible for ICZM. In general, the major function in this field is held by the Ministry of Ecology and Nature resources of Ukraine. They have a special agency - State Inspection for Protection of the Black and Azov seas which looks after the coastal areas. Additional agencies are the State Management Agencies for Ecology and Nature Resources which are present in each administrative region (oblast).These organisations are responsible for providing state environmental policy in certain coastal areas.

NGO's dealing with the coastal zone are mainly distributed in large centres (e.g. Odessa. Nikolaev, Kherson, Sebastopol, Donetsk). The Kiev NGO organisation has many branches. In the coastal area, several international organisations are active as well. These have their partners in the Ukraine (e.g. Wetlands International, EUCC, WWF, BirdLife International, IUCN, etc.) and popularise the World (or European) nature protection approach among local authorities, specialists and population in general.

The non-organised public is only making itself heard in case of ecologically dangerous industrial activity in the nearest surrounding of its settlement or in case of a local, regional or national NGO involving people in action on practice.

The non-organised public may influence the ICZM process mainly in the course of various EIA. It is one of the most important instruments of general public influence on decision making.


Two laws having a direct effect on matters relating to ICZM are the Law on Environment Protection (1992) and the Law on Ecological Expertise (1994). Consequently, industrial and other enterprises who deal with nature resources or landscapes should provide an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before the development of any project. Therefore, ICZM issues are one of the most important in the course of EIA procedure if the project deals with the coastline. Main questions which are thoroughly studied during the EIA document preparation are as follows:

  • environmental characteristics and quality;
  • areas of high biological productivity and diversity;
  • commercially valuable species;
  • species included into the Red Data Books of different level;
  • seasonal restrictions on activity based on the biological characteristics;
  • protected areas;
  • social economic characteristics of the area;
  • alternatives of the coastal zone development.


Public participation and dissemination of information in the coastal areas of Ukraine became more effective in the last 10 years. This is due to the increasing role of Non-Governmental-Organisations (NGOs) all over the country and especially along the coastal Azov-Black sea areas. Also the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) legislation require public participation during the preparation of the EIA documents.

The legislation on EIA indicated that a meeting with the public should be held during the EIA study to inform the public on the project under consideration, and to ask the public' s opinion on the project. If needed, the project proposal should be revised and another meeting with the public should be held. However, in practice the participation of the public is limited and their opinion is usually not well considered by the government.

The NGO's in the Ukraine have played important and effective roles in enhancing public information and participation in the coastal areas. Nevertheless, the NGO's still lack knowledge about public participation and its implementation.

Future development

To develop Public Participation in the ICZM process in Ukraine the following matters should be considered:

  • there is a general lack of knowledge about importance and benefits of public participation;
  • the economical crisis in Ukraine causes a deficiency in financing of almost all kinds of activity including nature conservation;
  • absence of law enforcement affecting offices, institutes, businessmen and private persons urging them towards "nature-friendly" methods of management and use of nature;
  • lack of traditions of "ecological" behaviour among population;
  • lack of ecological education in this field in schools;
  • lack of information of the ICZM participants of what is going on and where in this field.

16 - years experience of Ukrainian NGO - Natural Heritage Fund

For the first time Herodotus, father of history, in 450 B.C. used the concept "delta" with reference to the mouth part of the Nile river as by its shape it reminded him of the letter "delta" of the Greek alphabet. In Europe more than 30 rivers form such deltas with a total area exceeding 10 thousand hectares. And one of them - is the Dnester delta.

Academian Vernadsky V.I. regarded deltas as " possessors of the clots of life" because according to their biological productivity they can be compared with ecosystems of coral reefs and tropical forests.
In the Ukrainian Azov-Black sea coastal area there are 19 internationally important wetlands protected by the Ramsar Convention. It may be called the Gold Reserve of Europe. Many of them are in the Odessa region. Dnester delta wetlands is one of them.

Action of Natural Heritage Fund for conservation Dnester delta wetlands

NGO protests

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.

Establishing 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.

Dnester river - is a part of the Black Sea basin

It is known that Black Sea is the world's largest enclosed and anoxic sea. The basin of the Black Sea receives the heaviest impact from human activities because, of the 171 million people living in the Black Sea catchments, 10 million live in the River Dniestr basin alone. The Black Sea coasts are important tourist areas, with up to 40 million visitors during the summer. The Black Sea has not been protected by any common policy or legal regime until 1992. A recent common policy declaration,the Odessa Declaration, April 1993, was declared by all six environment ministers of the Black Sea. Convention calls for improved assessment and monitoring of contaminants, and the 'development of comprehensive and co-coordinated plans for the restoration, conservation and management of living natural resources.

The Black Sea has a surface of 461 000 km2 and an average depth of 1240 m. About 25 per cent of its area is occupied by its northwestern continental shelf which is less than 200 m deep. This northwestern area is subject to the discharge of the largest rivers (the Danube, Dnepr, Dnester and Yuzhnyy Bug). The sea is only linked to other seas with the Mediterranean through the Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles. This link is shallow (50 m) and narrow, and the inflow of salty water from the Mediterranean is outweighed by the outflow of surface water from the Black Sea. This water deficit is compensated by freshwater discharge. These two inflow sources have resulted in a stratification of the water column with fresher water at the surface and denser water at depth. The difference of density and the absence of vertical currents prevent the mixing of these two layers and the subsequent penetration of oxygen from the surface to the bottom. With decomposition of organic matters, the Black Sea is permanently anoxic below a depth of 150 to 200 m, and 90 per cent of its total water volume is anoxic. With these conditions, further degradation of organic matter takes place using oxygen bound in nitrates and especially in sulphates. The latter chemical reduction results in the formation of hydrogen sulphide.

The nutrient load via rivers and atmosphere to the Black Sea has increased noticeably during the last few decades, probably as a consequence of the widespread use of phosphate detergents and intensification of agriculture. Near 65 per cent of the nitrogen input into the Black Sea is via rivers, and about 10 per cent alone from the Dnester River. Agriculture and domestic wastewater were the biggest wrongdoers and had the largest share in pollution (31 and 26 per cent, respectively). Other important inputs were from atmospheric deposition (19 per cent) and industry (17 per cent). These values are roughly estimated because the data about the different sources were very limited.

Importants of the wetlands

The Dnester river is 1350 km long, including 550 km in Moldova; it has an average flow of 322 m3/s and is flooding 3 to 11 times a year, which is a key factor to the functioning of the whole ecosystem. The Dnester wetlands represent one of the most intact wetland ecosystems in the Black Sea region, displaying: extensive reedbeds, freshwater lakes, riparian forests, liman, floodplains, swamps, swamp-meadow and many rare and endangered species.

Dnester's delta is a unique ecological system of the Black Sea coast of Ukraine. These are freshwater wetlands, with numerous channels, lakes, flooded forests, striking wild flora and fauna, hard-working people and rich agriculture.

The upper part of the delta belongs to Moldova and it is practically reclaimed and transformed into arable lands. As to the lower - Ukrainian part, here one of largest wetland masses of the Black Sea territory is situated occupying an area of more than 220 km. Never-ending channels, dozens of lakes such as Beloye, Tudorovo, Putrino, Pisarskoye, Krugloye, Dragan. The warm and comfortable climate creates unique conditions for the vegetable and animal kingdom. And all of this within 30km from a large cultural center; the city of Odessa, from which sea liners carry in their supplies of the Dnester drinking water and spread it all over the world.

The Dnester delta and its wild nature reminds you in some ways of the greatness of the Amazon river, it gladdens and captivates. But it, like every beautiful and delicate creation of nature, needs attention and care. And not only from the government, but from everyone who visits it and enjoys its fascinating beauty.

Values of the Dnester delta wetlands

Wetlands of the Dnester delta have an important transitional position between land and water. The existing ecological interactions between the physical, chemical and biological components of this ecosystem produce goods and services important for human societies, so-called values:

Socio-cultural values

Different socio cultural values have been recognised in the Dnester wetlands:

  • recreational part of the wetlands (not the nature reserve) are open to the public;
  • educational: the Dnester wetlands are used as an example by regional and local NGO's (Wildlife Conservation and its branches) for environmental education and raising of public awareness on nature conservation;
  • historical: for ages, the territory of the Dnester has attracted many people of different origins and nationalities, traces subsist;

The Dnester delta, Dnester estuary and the adjoining territory - ancient and legendary area of the Black Sea territory. The town of Belgorod-Dnestrovky, one of the most green and beautiful towns of Ukraine and which is 2,5 thousand years old, is situated here. Being one of the 10 oldest cities of the world, during its centuries-old history it has had twelve multi-lingual names, but has preserved in its stem for good the word "Bely"-which means "white"

One of the most striking memorials is the fortress, built back in the 14-15 centuries A. D. by Slavonic people right near the waters of the Dnester estuary. It is the most valuable historical-architectural monument, now attracting thousands of people from all over the world.

Cultural heritage of this territory - includes centuries-old traditions to mow down reed and use of it in construction of roofs, fences as well as fire-wood. Many houses in Odessa, which was founded in 1794, were build using reed from the delta. Reed was also used during the construction of the world-famous Odessa Opera House.

Pottery and rod-weaving also have a rich history as well as wine-making, which was started here by Swiss Frenchmen in the beginning of the 19th century.

Economic values

This class of values can be divided into two different sub-classes:

  • productive values (agriculture, fishery in open water, fishery farming and forestry)
  • consumptive values (fishing, firewood cutting, cattle grazing, reed cutting, and hunting).

Ecological values

The Dnester wetlands are unique for their adaptation to the different hydrological, nutrient and salinity regimes. Wetlands take an important role in preventing erosion and maintaining the water quality. Wetlands offer diverse habitats extremely productive, so being a refuge for rare and threatened species, especially for birds.

The Dnester wetlands are unique for their adaptation to the different hydrological, nutrient and salinity regimes. Wetlands take an important role in preventing erosion and maintaining the water quality. Wetlands offer diverse habitats that are extremely productive, so being a refuge for rare and threatened species, especially for birds.

It is known that the Dnester delta is geographically situated in the zone of the Pontic migratory path of birds. Here in the wetlands and coastal zone in all seasons of the year more then 300 bird species have been recorded, which makes up for 90% of all species of the ornitho fauna of the Ukraine. Birds use various wetlands habitats for ending their annual life cycle. One and the same species may use different habitats, while on the contrary, different species may use one and the same habitat. This causes a vertical and horizontal tie between many species of birds with the structural and functional elements of wetlands ecosystems.

Bird families of Pelicanidae, Phalacrocoridae, Ardeidae, Ciconiidae, Threskiornithidae, Charadriidae, Laridae, Anatidae, Rallidae, Gruidae live in these habitats while stopping over during migration and during their whole life cycle. One of the main conclusions that can be made is that to save the richest species diversity of migrating birds through Dnester delta, it is necessary to save the whole diversity of habitats which are mostly natural biotopes. However, some are man-made territories such as fish-breeding ponds, agrocoenoses etc. and in such places birds are not protected from human activity. They are scared and shot at when protecting the harvest. The shots take a toll not only of ordinary mass species as cormorants, gulls and ducks, but many rare species too. That is why in these places migrating birds are in need of protection.
The widespread network of habitats in Dnester delta gives space to more than 100 bird species of which the nesting waterfowl colonies make up the greatest biomass and numbers. Many nesting species of Ardeidae, Threskiornithidae, Anatidae and Rallidae nest in these habitats, the most important of which in reedbed. All of these habitats fall into the category of Ramsar wetlands, which is an important feature for giving them international status with measures taken for conservation and management of natural resources.

Winters in Dnester delta are mild and maritime, very unstable with temperatures varying above and below zero with thaws and slight frosts. However, in certain years, in the winters of 1995-1996, 1996-1997, 1999-2000 and 2002-2003 almost all of the territory of delta was covered with snow and the water area -with ice. Only a few brackish water bodies and the coastal sea were available for waterfowls.

The diverse biotopes, mild winter climate and good feeding grounds all attract many species of birds to Dniestrer delta from Europe for wintering. The most numerous are Anatidae. The total numbers could reach 30 - 50 000 in some years. The most significant habitats during this period are in the NW part of the Dniestrovsky liman where the birds feed, rest and stay overnight. However, geese prefer agrocoenoses for feeding. This group is the most characteristic for the winter ornithofauna of the Dniestr delta in some years. Since it feeds on young plants of winter wheat, it is threatened by humans.
Five species of geese winter in Dnester wetlands, such as: Anser fabalis, Anser erythropus, Anser anser, Rufibrenta ruficollis, Anser albifrons. The latter is the most numerous. During the winter it numbers more than 30 000. It feeds on fields of winter wheat.
The species of Rufibrenta ruficollis flying over from Russia where they nest occur in mixed flocks with Anser albifrons. A record number of 12 000 birds of this species was recorded in the winter time of January 2001 in Dnester delta, when they stopped to stay overnight and to feed in natural coastal habitats and farmlands.

Therefore the Dnester delta is a very important ecological corridor. In 2000 the Ukrainian parliamented a law concerning Ecological networks in Ukraine. This law declares that the Dniestr delta is very important for the Dniestr basin ecocoridor and coastal Asov-Black sea ecocoridor. This is a brilliant area for Econet in Europe.