Ukraine – war-torn people and nature

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a humanitarian disaster but also a potential catastrophe for the country’s natural environment. It could have a much wider impact on nature conservation across Europe and in the UK. Security threats to nuclear power stations, including Chernobyl, have rightly been widely reported in the media but other environmental concerns have received less coverage as a European humanitarian crisis on a scale not experienced since World War 2 unfolds. However, for conservationists the war is also an unprecedented disaster for wildlife as an article in the British press last week revealed.1 Yehor Hrynyk, forest campaigner for the Ukrainian Nature Conservation Group, has highlighted the probability that conflict will provide a cover for large-scale illegal logging and timber extraction. He has also expressed concern that some international NGOs may have been reluctant to openly condemn Russia (probably due to the vulnerability of ongoing work there).2 Meanwhile, staff from Rewilding Ukraine, which is part of a major initiative to conserve and restore ecosystems in the Danube Delta, have been evacuated to Romania, or like Mr Hrynyk joined the defence of their country.3

Elsewhere there are now concerns across Europe, including Britain, that agricultural lobbies will use widespread fears around food security – both Russia and Ukraine are major grain and fertiliser producers – to dismantle EU and UK environmental protection and nature conservation programmes.4, 5 The Nature Friendly Farming Network has produced a very useful response to this threat.6

Donations to the Ukrainian Nature Conservation Group and other organisations in Ukraine can be made via the UNCG website A link for support to Rewilding Ukraine is provided below.


Feature image: Mathias P.R. Reding from Pexels







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Mackinnon, Janet “Ukraine – war-torn people and nature” ECOS vol. 2022, , British Association of Nature Conservationists,

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