Ukraine is building its emerald legislation
Yuliia Ovchynnykova, Deputy of Verkhovna Rada, "Servant of the People" faction
On December 4, 2020, we registered in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine the draft law “On the Territories of the Emerald Network” (№ 4461). The draft law was signed by 59 deputies from all parliamentary factions. The main purpose of the law is to ensure the preservation of types of natural habitats and species of natural fauna and flora that are subject of special protection in order to fulfill international obligations, in particular the implementation of the provisions of the Habitats and Birds Directives.
What is the Emerald Network?
The Emerald Network is a pan-European network of particularly valuable natural areas for the conservation of rare species of flora and fauna and the types of natural habitats that are protected at European level.
The Emerald Network is designed in the states that are parties to the Berne Convention (a total of 50 states and EU), in the countries of the European Union. In pursuance of the Berne Convention, the NATURA 2000 network is being created, it is designed on the same principles as the Emerald Network, but uses EU legal and financial instruments. Within the EU and the Council of Europe, the formation of the Emerald Network is the basis of all environmental work. That is why the development and implementation of the Emerald Network is our European integration in the field of nature protection.
The Emerald Network includes areas that are truly valuable to species and habitats that are important to the whole of Europe. This is a very rational approach, because only at the international level we can do a real assessment of what needs protection in the first place and what does not. The meaning of the new "emerald" status of territories for Ukraine is that the new economic activity, if someone plans such in the emerald territories, will have to undergo a special assessment procedure - whether it will harm the species and settlements for which each area is created. Very transparent, objective and professional. Such standards are a priority in European environmental legislation. In the future, after Ukraine's accession to the EU, land users will have access to EU financial instruments used for the preservation and development of NATURA 2000 territories.
The state of creation of the Emerald Network in Ukraine
The Ukrainian list of territories of the Emerald Network consists of 377 territories with an area of about 8 million hectares. This network is not complete and needs to be expanded in terms of finding new areas for the conservation of certain species and natural habitats for which the Bern Convention identifies insufficient representation in the network of proposed protected areas at biogeographical workshops. An example of this species is the carnation (Dianthus hypanicus) - it is endemic to Ukraine, the Bern Convention estimates that the network needs significant refinement. At the same time, the main part of the species' populations may disappear in the near future due to the rise of the water level in the Oleksandrivka Reservoir of the South Ukrainian Energy Complex to the level of 20.7 m.
What is provided by the law:
• changing the approach to the management of protected areas from "protection of the territory" to "conservation of individual natural habitats and natural fauna and flora" by planning and implementing measures necessary to maintain or restore natural habitats and populations of natural flora and fauna in favorable conservation status;
• establishing clear criteria for selecting the territories of the Emerald Network and determining the lists of species of flora and fauna, types of natural habitats for which the territories of the Emerald Network are determined;
• functioning of the National Register of Emerald Network Territories and the system for monitoring the conservation status of types of natural habitats and species of natural fauna and flora;
• development of management plans for the Emerald Network, which include measures to preserve each priority species of flora and fauna and natural habitats;
• introduction the mechanism for assessing the impact on the territory of the Emerald Network;
• creation of a central executive body that ensures the implementation of state policy in the field of protection and use of nature reserves, ecological and emerald networks, conservation of biodiversity.
Ukraine is building its own emerald legislation, which was not done by other states, which, being EU member states, were immediately focused on EU norms. The emerald network is an industry in which Ukraine has become a European leader in recent years. This work is largely done by experts of public organizations. In particular, more than 100 professional biologists, experts of the NGO "Ukrainian Environmental Protection Group" and International Charitable Organization "Ecology-Law-Human" joined these works. At the same time, it is this work at the European level that has shown how much public affairs can be done by experts from non-governmental organizations.
I sincerely thank all the experts who joined the preparation of this legislative initiative at various stages. In particular, Oleh Bondarenko, Chairman of the Committee on Environmental Policy and Environmental Management; Roman Abramovskyi, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources; Oleksandr Krasnolutskyi, Deputy Minister of Environment and Natural Resources; Roman Shakhmatenko, Deputy Minister of Environment and Natural Resources; Anastasiia Drapaliuk, Head of the department for protection and use of the nature reserve fund, maintaining the state cadastre of the nature reserve fund the department of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine; Petro Tiestov, Adviser to the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of Ukraine; Olena Kravchenko and team of the International Charitable Organization "Ecology-Law-Human"; Oleksii Vasyliuk and team of the NGO "Ukrainian Environmental Protection Group"; Dmytro Skrylnikov, lawyer, Chairman of the NGO "Bureau of Environmental Investigations"; Kateryna Borysenko, NGO "Ukrainian Environmental Protection Group"; Anna Kuzemko, Doctor of Biological Sciences, a leading researcher at the Institute of Botany named after M.G. Kholodny the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine; Vasyl Kostiushyn, PhD in Biological Sciences, Head of the Department of Monitoring and Protection of Fauna of the Institute of Zoology named after І. І. Shmalhauzen the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine; Nataliia Bohdan, Assistant Consultant to the Deputy of Verkhovna Rada; Nataliia Movchan, Assistant Consultant to the Deputy of Verkhovna Rada, and all the members of the working group of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Environmental Policy and Nature Management.