conservation, and regeneration of forest resources. The state is also charged
with managing game animals.
In contrast, most of the wood processing facilities are privately owned.
About 7. 2 billion board feet gets harvested in the Ukraine each year, but much
of this wood is exported and processed in European Union countries, Turkey,
and China before a considerable amount of that wood is shipped back to
manufacturers in the Ukraine. This is not so different than in the northeastern
U.S., where pine logs are shipped to Canada only to return as 2x4s. To try to
promote domestic wood processing, a law was recently enacted to prevent
raw, unprocessed timber from leaving the country. There are still concerns
that not all wood will be sold on the domestic market and worries that high-quality wood will end up being used for bio-energy or the production of pallets, because these uses are more profitable. If the export ban fails to achieve
the intended result, it’s likely some other solution will be tried.
Beyond commercial uses, Ukrainian forests are relied upon to play an
important environmental role, particularly in terms of protecting soils and
water. They also are used to create more favorable microclimate conditions
for agriculture (especially in the southern region), as well as for recreation
and for cultural heritage conservation.
Non-timber forest products, such as mushrooms and berries, are of
great importance to local communities and can be collected free of charge.
However, recent surveys conducted as part of the international FLEG (Forest
Law Enforcement and Governance) program cited problems with harvests
involving both timber and non-timber crops in Ukraine. They noted reduced
forest cover from both legal and illegal logging, overharvesting (especially
by outsiders coming to the forest to cash-in on lucrative berries and mush-
rooms), and destructive harvesting techniques that increase short-term
harvests but hinder regrowth. They also blamed climate change for reducing
forest cover, drying marshes, increasing disease, and changing the distribu-
tion of forest products like mushrooms and cranberries.
The war with Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country is leading to the loss of life and property and posing serious threats to the
environment. At least 33 protected natural areas in the Donetsk and Lugansk
regions have been damaged by the fighting; one fire caused by the conflict
damaged nearly 100,000 acres of forest. Despite the massive pressures on
the economy and the fragile situation in the eastern part of the country, the
conditions for building a successful economy in Ukraine have never been
as favorable as they are today. Political and economic reforms designed to
eliminate corruption and increase transparency, as well as the association
with the European Union, are creating a more favorable climate for investment, including in the forestry sector.
Dr. Ihor Soloviy is currently a Fulbright Scholar at the Gund Institute for
Ecological Economics, University of Vermont, and also associate professor at
the Ukrainian National Forestry University.
Left to right: Life in rural communities is tied to the forest
environment and forest resources; an old-growth beech forest in
the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve; forest restoration work in the
Cherkassy Region; a harvesting operation in the Lviv region.