WWF urges Ukrainian president to stop the destruction of Yalta Nature Reserve

Posted on 10 July 2013  | 
Kiev – In a special letter WWF urges Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich to issue a moratorium on exclusion of land from the Yalta Nature Reserve and to preserve this extremely valuable area which harbours 13% of all plant species from the European globally endangered flora and fauna list.

“We ask President Yanukovich to stop the designation of the most valuable territory of Yalta Nature Reserve for construction and change of its legal borders. Land-use change in the protected area will lead to vast construction of private property, hotels and infrastructure which absolutely contradicts this law. Eight percent of the reserve’s plant species are endemic, meaning they cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Its forest is of paramount importance for watershed and soil protection of the settlements on the Southern Black Sea coast”, says Andreas Beckmann, Director of WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme, which has been active in Ukraine for more than a decade.

In the past few months the master plans of several towns have been expanded by the local councils onto territories of the Yalta Nature Reserve putting into danger more than a thousand hectares of the protected area.

Although local authorities have shown strong support for the project of boundary changes and
expansion of Yalta mountain forest reserve, according to which the territory of nature reserve will
increase from 14,5 to 17,5 thousand hectares. But the project suggests creation of a buffer zone between the settlements and the nature reserve at the expense of the most valuable lands which harbor rare Maquis shrubland, typical for the Mediterranean region and disappearing in Ukraine.

WWF warns that according to the protected areas law in Ukraine, procedure of changing the boundaries of the nature reserve must be based on expert judgment, agreed by the Ministry of Environment and signed by the President. Thus, the decision on nature reserve’s boundary change by the Yalta, Alupka and Koreiz city councils have no legal force and are against the law.

Yalta Nature Reserve and its treasures are not only part of the Ukrainian natural heritage but hold unique place in biodiversity conservation on the whole European continent. Unjustified and illegal land-use change is against both EU norms and international conventions that Ukraine has signed like Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters and Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea against Pollution, WWF warns.
Yalta Nature Reserve harbours 13% of all plant species from the European globally endangered flora and fauna list
© Misha Nesterenko Enlarge

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