Posted on 22 January 2018
The total area of old-growth forest plots under SFRA management is over 59,000 ha
Kyiv – A significant step toward conserving Ukraine’s old-growth forests was made as the State Forest Resources Agency (SFRA) ordered its Regional Administrations in the Carpathian region to stop issuing felling tickets for plots that were identified by WWF as virgin and old-growth forests. The total area of identified old-growth forest plots under SFRA management is over 59,000 ha, including 26,000 ha of virgin forests. The moratorium will continue until the status of each plot is officially approved.
Old-growth forests shelter a treasure trove of biodiversity. Their lifespan depends entirely on nature processes without any human impact. It makes them more resistant e.g. to pests and climate change. They also provide important ecosystem services such as climate regulation, water purification, carbon sequestration, and maintaining biological diversity. They have an exceptional beauty and educational value if compared to commercial forests. But there are still virgin forests that are under commercial forestry management that are not protected from cutting.
Roman Volosyanchuk, Forest Project Manager, WWF Ukraine: “Protection of the Carpathian virgin forest is a priority for WWF no matter who manages the plots. If these forests are lost, they are lost forever. The Carpathian region is one of the greatest refuges for untouched forests in Europe. The support from the State Forest Resources Agency of Ukraine is crucially important to protect these unique forest treasures”.
Volodymyr Bondar, Deputy of the Head of State Forest Resources Agency of Ukraine: “The letter of the State Forest Resources Agency of Ukraine to our regional administrations is a recommendation. However, we will control how our subdivisions follow it. Very strong arguments should be provided to initiate a logging permit for a plot from the virgin and old-growth forest list. In any other way, permissions will not be given. I think that experts from WWF and the citizens will help us control this process”.
Valeriy Murha, Head of the Zakarpattia Regional Forest Administration under the SFRA: "We recognize the importance of conserving virgin and old-growth forests. Thus, we immediately apply the moratorium recommended by the State Forest Resources Agency and we are open to a joint work with WWF on developing decisions on protection status of each plot."
Last year, a national law dedicated to virgin forest protection was signed by the president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko
. WWF together with the Institute of Ecology of the Carpathians of the National Academy of Science of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Research Institute for Mountain Forestry developed a methodology for identifying virgin and old-growth forests. It is based on criteria and indicators adopted under the Carpathian Convention and its effectiveness has been tested by WWF and other experts during field expeditions.
By 1 July 2017, 63,000 ha of old-growth and almost 31,000 ha of virgin forests have been identified in Ukraine using this methodology with the support of Succow Foundation, IKEA, and DEG. The methodology and protection procedures are now at final stage of approvment by the Ministry of Environment as part of the Ukrainian legislation.
Ukrainian old-growth forests can be checked out on this website: http://gis-wwf.com.ua/