Ukraine names eleven varied new Ramsar Sites

Ukraine names eleven varied new Ramsar Sites

15 September 2004

Ukraine now has 33 Wetlands of International Importance

The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources of Ukraine, in collaboration with the Wetlands International Black Sea Programme and expert staff members from a number of important protected areas around the country, has presented the data, maps, and designation documents for 11 new Wetlands of International Importance, effective 29 July 2004 and covering 28,401 hectares, in a fascinating variety of habitat types. All of them have already been designated as National Parks or Nature Reserves in-country (one of them is part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 'Askania-Nova') and already have ongoing research activities, in most cases management plans, and in many cases visitor infrastructure. They are found in nearly all parts of the country - coastal sites in Crimea on the Azov and Black Seas (Cape Kazantyp, Karadag, Cape Opuk); a pod or steppe depression also in the south (Chapelsk); a bay of the Dniester River itself (Bakotska Bay) and a canyon and delta of one of its tributaries (the Smotrych); floodplains near the Russian border in the north (Desna) and more in the center of the country (Dnipro-Oril); a lake formed by mountain landslides in the Carpathians (Synevyr); and extensive peatlands in the Polesie area near the Belarus frontier (Perebrody, Polissia mires), which are part of continuing discussions with Belarus and Poland concerning transboundary management.

Ukraine now has 33 Ramsar Sites covering a surface area of 744,651 hectares, and the Convention's global total now reaches 1376 sites covering 122,691,471 ha. Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for Europe, Estelle Gironnet, has prepared brief site descriptions of the new sites which give a strong sense of their value for the biodiversity of the region. The photographs are by Grygoriy Parchuk.

Aquatic-cliff complex of Cape Kazantyp. 29/07/04; Crimean AR; 251 ha; 45°28'N 035°51'E. Nature Reserve. Coastal area of the Sea of Azov composed of pebble and detritus-coquina bays with thickets of macrophytic algae Cystoseira barbata and vascular plants Zannichellia major and Zostera noltii. It is an important spawning ground for crustaceans and rare fish species, such as the Great Sturgeon Huso huso ponticus, and maintains a significant proportion of indigenous fish species. The site is used as a nesting and migration stop-over, especially for the Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea, and qualifies under Criterion 6 for the bird populations of Phalacrocorax carbo, Gelochelidon nilotica and Larus genei. Marine mammals (Phocoena phocoena, Tursiops truncates) visit the area. During hot summer sometimes, fish kill occurs due to abrupt decrease of the oxygen content. The Nature Reserve has a visitors' centre and management plan. Ramsar site no. 1393.

Aquatic-cliff complex of Karadag. 29/07/04; Crimean AR; 224 ha; 44°56'N 035°14'E. Nature Reserve, Important Bird Area. Located at the southeastern part of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the aquatic-cliff complex of Karadag comprises sublittoral marine areas up to 6 metres depth, bays, a narrow strip of pebble-boulder coast and coastal cliffs up to 120m high. It is an important place for birds, notably during migrations, and other vulnerable animal species such as the bats Rhinolophus hipposideros and Myotis emarginatus, colonies of which settle in the grottoes. The marine area with nationally rare algae and seagrass meadows constitutes a good spawning habitat for many fish species and supports, among others, the Great Sturgeon Huso huso ponticus. Dolphins approach the coast periodically. Ecological trails and a nature centre are near the site. Ramsar site no. 1394.

Aquatic-coastal complex of Cape Opuk. 29/07/04; Crimean AR; 775 ha; 45°01'N 036°12'E. Nature Reserve. Combination of steep limestone rocks on the seaside (marine boundary lines along 6 meter isobath), sandy-coquina spits, and a salt lake. Thousands of birds winter in the wetland complex or stop during their migrations, especially the White-fronted Goose, Mallard, Garganey, and Coot. Threatened species such as the Eagle Aquila heliaca or the Bat Rhinolophus ferrumequinum occur within the area. Thickets of macrophytic algae provide a suitable habitat for protected species such as the Great Sturgeon and the Black Sea Salmon and constitute an important spawning ground for many other fish species. Dolphins and porpoises (Phocoena phocoena, Tursiops truncatus) are observed periodically. Environmental education activities and scientific researches are carried out annually. Ramsar site no. 1395.

Bakotska Bay. 29/07/04; Khmelnytska Oblast; 1,590 ha; 48°35'N 026°56'E. National Park. The site was formed during the filling of a low-lying area of the Dniester River valley with waters of the newly-constructed Dniester Reservoir located downstream. It supports vulnerable bird and fish species such as Lesser Kestrel, Corncrake, and the fish Zingel and has a special importance for birds of prey. Various bird species like Mallard, Mute Swan, Great White Egret, and Little Egret use the wetland complex for a long period of time during their spring and autumn migrations. The site is also important as spawning grounds for common and rare fish species. Nature conservation activities and scientific research are carried out; leisure, fishing, hunting are regulated by the Podilski Tovtry National Park. Changes of the water level due to Dniester Reservoir drawdown adversely affect the site. State ownership. A monastery from the 9th century was built into the limestone rocks. Ramsar site no. 1396.

Big Chapelsk Depression. 29/07/04; Khersonska Oblast; 2,359 ha; 46°29'N 033°51'E. IBA, Nature Reserve, Biosphere Reserve 'Askania-Nova'. Natural shallow depression (or "pod") filled by water from melted snow and rains -- thanks to additional water from artesian wells, the lake, at the central part of the depression, never dries up. Hundreds of thousands of birds use the depression during autumn and spring migrations. Among them, large flocks of White-fronted Goose, Crane, Red-breasted Goose, and Ruddy Shelduck feed during the daytime on the steppe and agricultural lands of the surroundings and come back to rest at night in the site. Non-freezing lakes permanently supplied by fresh water from artesian wells of the local zoo provide wintering opportunities for birds such as the mallards (5 to 16 thousand individuals) or the white-fronted geese (up to 40 thousand). Research and bird monitoring are carried out. The Biosphere Reserve and zoo receive up to 60,000 tourists annually but visits to the site itself are limited to about 500. A decrease of the water level periodically occurs every 12 years and disturbs the fauna distribution pattern. Ramsar site no. 1397.

Desna River Floodplains. 29/07/04; Sumska Oblast; 4,270 ha; 52°19'N 033°23' E. National Park. River network with lakes, oxbows, mires and floodplain meadow areas, along the border with Russia, with aquatic and riverside vegetation types, swamp, shrubs, meadow, and partly forest. The site supports rare aquatic plant communities listed in the Green Data Book of Ukraine and internationally threatened species such as the Sterlet, the Common Otter, the Eurasian beaver, the Corncrake and many other birds which nest within the site. Between the new and former Desna River beds, colonies of grebes, ducks, plovers, sandpipers, gulls, and terns are settled. It is an important reproduction place as well for 33 fish species, which contributes to enriching the ichthyofauna stock of the lower river tributaries. Human activities include nature conservation and recreation activities, regulated hunting and scientific research. Observation of bird migrations and bird ringing during the nesting season are carried out. Ramsar site no. 1398.

Dnipro-Oril Floodplains. 29/07/04; Dnipropetrovska Oblast; 2,560 ha; 48°32'N 034°45'E. IBA, Nature Reserve. A well preserved area at the confluence of the Dnipro (or Dneiper) and Oril Rivers, comprising a system of watercourses and related floodplains with numerous lakes, mires, and well-developed flora of vascular plants, including rare communities of Salvinia natans and Trapa natans, floodplain forests with oak, willow, poplar and alder. The site is an important nesting place for Oystercatcher, Corncrake, Black Stork, Night Heron, and White Tailed Eagle and represents a key point of of the Dnipro bird migration route. Large flocks of Mallard, Garganey, Coot and White-fronted Goose stop over during their autumn migrations. It supports many internationally threatened species such as the mammals Lutra lutra, Castor fiber, reptile species Emys orbicularis, Vipera ursinii, amphibians Bombina bombina. Some 40 fish species, including the Sterlet Acipenser ruthenus, are recorded. The water level depends upon weather conditions but also substantially upon operations of a reservoir built downstream. Ramsar site no. 1399.

Lake Synevyr. 29/07/04; Zakarpatska Oblast; 29 ha; 48°37'N 023°41'E. National Park. Located among spruce forests, Lake Synevyr, though small, is the largest natural water body in the Ukrainian Carpathians. Three permanent mountain streams flow into the lake, causing accelerated silting in those places and transforming into eutrophic mires overgrown by Glyceria fluitans and Equisetum palustre. The Noble Crayfish Astacus astacus and flora species listed in the Red Data Book of Ukraine are registered within the site. Floating vegetation communities of the lake are represented by different species of Potamogeton and littoral-water communities by stands of Glyceria fluitans, Equisetum palustre, Mentha piperita. The lake, associated with legends and widely popular among local people, is a symbol of the Ukrainian Carpathians and represents a great environmental and educational value. Human activities include regulated recreation, scientific research and nature conservation. Ramsar site no. 1400.

Lower Smotrych River. 29/07/04; Khmelnytska Oblast; 1,480 ha; 48°35'N 026°36'E. National Park. Canyon and delta areas of the Smotrych River upstream from its confluence with the Dniester River. Thanks to this combination of habitats, the site provides good conditions of reproduction for bats, birds of prey, waterbirds and fish species under international protection such as the Pond Bat, the Corncrake and the Black Sea Roach and presents rare and representative flora communities. Nature conservation activities and scientific research are carried out; leisure, fishing, hunting are regulated by the Podilski Tovtry National Park. National Park website: Ramsar site no. 1401.

Perebrody Peatlands. 29/07/04; Rivnenska Oblast; 12,718 ha; 51°42'N 027°07'E. Nature Reserve. The site, including several small lakes, is important for conservation of the typical boreal mire flora and fauna, especially the northern part at the border with Belarus. Lowland sedge-reed communities are concentrated in the central over-damp part of the site and transitional sedge-sphagnum communities prevail at its periphery. The association of Carex lasiocarpa with sphagnum mosses is the dominant plant community of the site. Forest and coppice communities cover a large part of it with Scots pine Pinus sylvestris on islands and dune tops and Betula pendula, Alnus glutinosa and Salix alba in swamp areas. Besides the widespread species of Anatidae and Rallidae, Black Stork Ciconia nigra, Corncrake Grus grus, Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus, Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola, and Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus nest within the site. Presence of the European Otter Lutra lutra and Castor fiber is registered. During extensive floods every 10 years or so, the site territory can be almost completely covered by water. Ramsar site no. 1402.

Polissia Mires. 29/07/04; Zhytomyrska Oblast; 2,145 ha; 51°31'N 28°01'E. Nature Reserve. A large swamp area of transitional mires and oligotrophic bogs fed by rain and snow waters and, at the border with Belarus, a separated wetland complex of transitional mires and fens integrated in small rivers floodplains. A significant part of the mires is forested with Betula pubescens and Alnus glutinosa. The site is important for the conservation of the flora and supports rare and endangered species of clubmosses, mosses, algae and the endemic vascular plant Tragopogon ucrainicus. Birds such as Crex crex, Ciconia nigra, Grus grus, Gallinago gallinago and Aquila heliaca use the site for reproduction. Felix lynx and Lutra lutra are permanently recorded. Scientific research and nature conservation activities are ongoing. Ramsar site no.1403.