Ukraine seeks lessons from Czech nature reserve to revive war-destroyed lands

Milovice nature reserve, formerly occupied by Soviet troops, is offering Ukrainian conservationists a model for rewilding efforts in the aftermath of war.

ČTK

Written by ČTK Published on 11.11.2023 11:18:00 (updated on 12.11.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

A group of conservationists from Ukraine visited several locations in Czechia this week to exchange information on how land damaged by war can be reclaimed to nurture wildlife and restore flora and fauna.

Dalibor Dostál, Director of the Czech Landscape Conservation Society, said that Ukrainian conservationists are seeking to apply the insights from the Milovice former military area in rebuilding nature ravaged by conflict.

A Ukrainian delegation, comprising conservationists, national park representatives, and local authorities, visited the Milovice reserve to examine its restoration model.

"Ukrainian colleagues are tackling environmental damage in war-affected zones. Mines and damage from heavy machinery due to the conflict have disrupted their valuable areas," said Pavla Hofmeisterová, from NGO Nesehnutí who organized the Ukrainian visit.

Photo: Nature.cz
Photo: Nature.cz

Nesehnutí had been collaborating with the Ukrainian Conservation Group (UNCG) before the conflict, aiming to safeguard vital areas from destruction. Post-invasion, UNCG realized the significance of emulating the experience of Central European EU members, foreseeing the beginning of negotiations and alignment with EU environmental standards.

According to Dostál, joint projects involving the reintroduction of large ungulates had been in the pipeline, but the outbreak of war in 2022 hindered their implementation. "Our plan to transfer bison and other ungulates to the Beremytske Nature Reserve in Ukraine had to be put on hold," he said.

Milovice Nature Reserve Established in 2015 in the Czech Republic, Milovice was formerly a military area that witnessed a loss of biodiversity after the departure of heavy machinery. With the introduction of large herbivorous mammals, such as European bison, Tauros cattle, and Exmoor ponies, the project aims to recreate a sustainable ecosystem. The reserve has seen an increase in rare species, like the European jackal, bats, butterflies, and even a sighting of a European grey wolf. It serves as a unique model for rewilding efforts in Europe.

Milovice's conservationists are still dealing with the aftermath of Soviet occupation, and face various challenges, including debris removal and the remnants of the military presence.

During their visit to Šumava National Park, Ukrainian experts sought insights that aligned with their professional scope, potentially transferrable to projects in Ukraine, Hofmeisterova noted.

The Milovice Reserve, established in 2015 on the former military grounds, currently spans 350 hectares, housing over 100 wisents, wild horses, and aurochs in an open steppe setting. The exchange between Czech and Ukrainian conservationists aims to apply lessons learned in the revitalization of nature in conflict-affected zones.

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