The project area is broadly the East Carpathian Mountains in western Ukraine, with specific activities focused around protected areas contained within two internationally recognized Biosphere Reserves: the Ukrainian portion of the trilateral East Carpathian Biosphere Reserve shared with Slovakia and Poland; and the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve located near the border with Romania.
The area includes the ancient beech forests that in 2007 were recognised as being of global significance by the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Divided between shifting borders for centuries, the Eastern Carpathians are one of the ethnically most diverse areas in Europe, home not only to Ukrainians but also Romanians, Slovaks, Poles, Hungarians, Ruthenians as well as indigenous mountain peoples the Lemko and Boyko.
Although one of Ukraine’s richest areas in terms of natural resources, the area is among Ukraine’s poorest, with high rates of unemployment and as many as 15-20% of people working abroad. Forestry is the main local economic activity. Agriculture is limited to cattle raising, sheep breeding and small-scale organic farming utilizing traditional land-use patterns. Tourism is growing.
Support for protected areas and local communities
The project will prepare the ground for a number of actions contributing to the sustainable use and protection of the globally important natural values in the East Carpathians in Ukraine. It focuses on promoting cooperation between protected area authorities, NGOs and local communities and stakeholders to promote local sustainable development and nature protection as well as cross-border cooperation.
It will do this by building capacity of protected area administrations, NGOs, local communities and stakeholders in the project focal areas and initiating a number of local development activities, including forestry and tourism, that can demonstrate and deliver socio-economic benefits for local people while maintaining and even enhancing the rich biological diversity of the region.
The five-year initiative is supported by the the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the MAVA Foundation and WWF, with in-kind support provided by the Ukrainian Ministry of Environment.
WWF in Ukraine
The project significantly extends WWF’s work in the Carpathians and in Ukraine. It builds on existing activities of the organisation since 2006 to identify and protect riverine and other high conservation value forests in the region as well as to promote community partnership and integrated river basin management on the Upper Tisza River between Ukraine, Hungary and Romania.
Additional activities have focused on improving the policy framework for nature conservation in the area through the Carpathian Convention and the EU’s European Neighbourhood Policy.
WWF continues its longstanding efforts to protect and restore the Danube Delta in southwestern Ukraine.
Contact: Taras Yamelynets, WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme