Like Russian bombs and bullets have destroyed buildings and killed lives, Ukrainian scientists have struggled to catalog the effects of the war on the country’s natural biodiversity. Going outside to check out colonies of bats, frogs, or endangered plants, many have risked security to map hot spots and secure data. The wild lands of Ukraine have a diverse landscape of dense forests, alpine meadows, meadows, wetlands and marine estuaries, which are home to animals such as bears, wolves, lynx, puppies, capercaillies, storks, sturgeons, dolphins and the hairy blind mole rat. . The country serves as an important point for many migratory bird species.
In any case, the value of an environment increases as war destroys what was previously available, sometimes permanently. Damage to Ukraine’s air, water, plants and animals is likely to persist long after the rebuilding of its cities. One day, the information that Ukrainian scientists are gathering can now provide evidence of Russia’s environmental crimes. Russia should pay for this environmental devastation. If only the legal system could awaken to reality.
War is affecting the wildlife of Ukraine. “Many animals are frightened by noise, by vibration,” says Oleksii Marushchak, a conservation biologist based in Kyiv. Bird nesting sites have been ruined. Military vehicles have sunk into rivers and lakes, carrying countless tons of oil and other harmful chemicals. “They will destroy the food base of small animals like insects. Without insects it means there are no frogs; without frogs it means no cranes.”
Fires, explosions and collapsed buildings have filled the air, water and soil of Ukraine with harmful particles and nitric acid. Poisoned resources can take decades to repair.
The Ukrainian habitat of the Marble Hill, a rare and beautiful animal that looks like a ferret with gold spots, is now completely a war zone. In a national nature park in southeastern Ukraine, the Russian army crushed a rare, endangered flower resembling a crocus, the saffron of the spring meadow. In the Black Sea, military activity is killing dolphins. In Chernobyl, the Russians have burned more than 37,000 acres of forest. According to the Nature Conservation Group of Ukraine, 44% of Ukraine’s protected natural lands have been damaged by the war.
Global ecosystems depend on biodiversity to survive in times of stress. Before the war, the country already lacked resources devoted to conservation. When the war ends, Ukrainians will need healthy soil for crops, clean water to drink and fish, forests to cool off, and natural spaces to rebuild their biodiversity, and for some, mental health. Pumped and polluted land will take several years to remove and replace. Toxic pollutants from rivers and streams will kill fish and their food, and what is left will probably be unsafe to eat. Forests not directly destroyed by bombs, bullets or fires will be recorded for reconstruction, and unexploded ordnance will make the walks unsafe. More than a decade after the Iraq war, its effects on environmental infrastructure are evident on roads full of sewage and brackish tap water.
“Facilities such as plants, shops or McDonald’s can be restored with a proper investment,” says Oleh Prylutskyi, a mycologist and professor at the National University of Kharkiv in Ukraine, “but the natural scientific and cultural heritage can be lost forever. “.
Russia has to be responsible for the environmental destruction it is causing. Environmental damage deprives a country of its cultural and natural artifacts and creates difficulties for its civilians. If no one is responsible for such acts, they will be deemed acceptable.