Projekt 38378/01

Naturschutz und Konflikt in der Ukraine: Ermittlung der Kriegsschäden an Naturschutzgebieten in der Ukraine (Ukraine-Nature)


Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften Hamburg Fakultät Life Sciences Forschungs- und Transferzentrum Nachhaltigkeit und Klimafolgenmanagement
Ulmenliet 20
21033 Hamburg


Russian invasion of Ukraine poses great challenges for a global society, especially with the present environmental circumstances and the need to meet climate change goals. The environmental impacts include the release of toxic materials into the air, water, and soil from explosions, combustion, fires, military waste, construction of bunkers, and heavy military machinery. The relentless nature of modern warfare poses substantial risks to the natural environment. As a result, the natural landscape of Ukraine, particularly the protected nature reserves belonging to the Emerald Network, is changing due to the Russian war against Ukraine. The lack of comprehensive research documenting the ecological changes caused by military activities taking place in protected nature reserves is a significant data gap. It could affect the success of post-conflict restoration work in the future as well as actual conservation activities. The environment is typically under-prioritized during conflicts, particularly in the face of so much human suffering. However, both human rights and ecosystems depend on a healthy environment. Moreover, having access to clean water, air, soil, and biodiversity, as well as access to ecosystem services, would be one of the most important conditions for displaced people to come back to Ukraine.
Ukraine-Nature project delved into the significant yet often neglected environmental repercussions of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, highlighting the adverse effects on soil, biodiversity, and forests. In this context, this research aimed to provide an overview of the impacts of the war on the environment in four Ukrainian protected areas, namely the Chornobyl Radiation Ecological Biosphere Reserve; Desniansko-Starohutskyi National Nature Park; Holosiivskyi National Nature Park, and Hetmanskyi National Nature Park that will also support the international efforts and measures needed to recover from the damage caused by the Russian-Ukrainian war. The main outcome of the project is the document "Supporting the Restoration of Protected Areas in Ukraine: An Action Plan", which describes the damage to four researched protected nature reserves and proposes measures to support future restoration and actual conservation efforts.


Ukraine-Nature project activities were organized according to the developed structure containing four working packages (WPs). In each working package, different tasks and actions were planned. The establishment of the management and partner structure within the tasks of WP1 (project management and partner coordination; M1-M21) was done through the engagement of various partners via newsletters, e-mails, social media, and online meetings. Based on these results several working groups were developed. Partner coordination and internal monitoring were done with such methods as data collection, Gantt chart, analysis of the results, and internal reports. According to the developed structure of the project, the road map was elaborated and updated monthly. All documents and deliverables were organized at the HAW online drive. Analyses of the project results were presented in the intermediate and final reports. Planned methods were supplemented with several further approaches to fulfill planned tasks for the WP2 (Impact assessments; M1-M21) and project objectives. In this context, the Ukraine-Nature team relied on bibliometric analysis, key informant interviews, soil and water tests, GIS analyses based on satellite pictures as well as secondary data gathered by experts from the Ukraine-Nature project in two stages: during the expedition and extracted from databases (ACLED, FIRMS, Ministry of Defence of Ukraine and State Emergency Service of Ukraine). The obtained values were used to assess the level of damage for soil, forests, and biodiversity within the grids of 1*1 km2 by the degree of disturbance: absent, low, medium, above average, high, extremely high. All the results for forest, soil, biodiversity, and total were mapped for each of the researched territories. To fulfill the tasks of WP3 (recommendations for reconstruction and conservation of nature M1-M2 and M19-M21) the literature review by Eosviewer and an analysis of the case studies of best practices to resolve ecological damages caused by the war were done. Based on the results of WP2 and WP3 (T3.1. and T3.2.) document "Support in the restoration of nature reserves in Ukraine: an action plan” was developed. Based on the identification of internal and external stakeholders of the project, a communication strategy was developed within WP4 (dissemination and upscaling activities; M1-M21). According to it, dissemination, networking, and promotion activities were taken as well as project design.


The main aim of the Ukraine-Nature project was fulfilled, particularly to provide an overview of the impacts of the war on the environment in four Ukrainian protected areas, namely the Chornobyl RABR; Desniansko-Starohutskyi NNP; Holosiivskyi NNP, and Hetmanskyi NNP. It was discovered that habitats and biodiversity in these reserves are endangered by landmines, wildfires caused by artillery shelling and purposeful setting of fires in forested areas, armed clashes, military occupation of the land, and the movement and maintenance of military vehicles. The difficulty in assessing environmental impacts caused by military actions was due to the environmental data scarcity on the state of pre-war, at the same time there was limited access to the territories.
The project duration was extended for three months due to the new big military events occurring in the studied areas during the data collection phase, therefore it was needed additional time to process them.
The main outcome of the project was also delivered, particularly the document "Supporting the Restoration of Protected Areas in Ukraine: An Action Plan", which describes the damage to four researched protected nature reserves and proposes measures to support future restoration and actual conservation efforts. One of the main recommendations would be to ensure legal accountability for environmental war crimes and to intensify the efforts to stop the war. Since in the context of the ongoing war, there is limited access to the territories due to mining and shelling, it restricts researchers and society in acting toward recovery. Therefore the project objectives were extended to provide recommendations before the end of military actions, particularly the main activities would include constant monitoring and assessment of environmental damages caused by the war.
This interdisciplinary approach of the project offers valuable insights into environmental degradation, proposing actionable measures for recovery and sustainability not only in the post but also during the war. In this regard, the Ukrainian government and the international community need to prioritize environmental protection in the country, even during conflict, since the Russian war in Ukraine can put the natural ecosystems in danger and generate long-lasting damage to preservation areas that belong to the European Emerald Network and influence the well-being of the European ecosystems.


According to the developed Ukraine-Nature communication strategy the following communication and dissemination actions were taken:
• Reports in media: ZDF; 3SAT; Die Zeit ; TAZ.DE; Bergedorfer Zeitung; Nachrichten.idw; Ukrainian media
• Publications in:
– Social media: Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook;
–DAAD annual report;
– BUP online platform
– HAW web page
• Presentation of the results on 5 events:
– Peilung #4 by DAAD, June 9th, 2023,Berlin;
– die Zukunft im Land by DBU, June 29th, 2023, Osnabrück;
– Institut für Friedensforschung und Sicherheitspolitik, Universität Hamburg, 25.10.2023, Hamburg;
– Stimmen aus der Ukraine! By Württembergischen Landesbibliothek, 8.02.2024, Stuttgart;
– “Cafe Kyiv. The Future of Ukraine in Europe” by Konrad Adenauer Foundation, 19.02. 2024, Berlin.
• Two Seminar that presented the midterm and final results of the project were held in Hamburg (Germany) and Ivano-Frankivsk (Ukraine)
• Two workshops one online and one in Hamburg
• Lectures for German and Ukrainian students
• 3 Scientific articles
• newsletters within ESSSR and BUP
• Planned presentations: Woche der Umwelt 2024 by DBU on June 4-5th, Berlin; Congress of Central and East European Studies (ceecon24) on 7-8 October, Berlin.

3SAT KulturzeitZDFDie Zeit


During the Ukraine-Nature project implementation, significant disturbances due to the Russian-Ukrainian war were observed, which are leading to the degradation of soil, vegetation, and biodiversity in the Chornobyl REBR, the Holosiivskyi NNP, the Desniansko-Starohutskyi NNP, and the Hetmanskyi NNP. The overview of the impacts of the war on the environment was documented based on key informant interviews, satellite pictures, on-site assessments, GIS analyses, and soil sample analyses. Particularly it was found that the protected areas are contaminated with elements of hazard classes 1–3, such as lead, manganese, zinc, copper, vanadium, strontium, etc.
Given the scarcity of data on post-war environmental restoration and nature conservation during the war, this project's findings are invaluable, highlighting the urgent need for targeted restoration and preservation efforts in the face of ongoing military threats. The results should inform future management decisions, legislative initiatives, and international awareness regarding the environmental consequences of war. Additionally, the findings were shared through scientific conferences, publications, and discussions with experts to foster a collaborative approach to "green recovery". The staff at the project Ukraine Nature will in the coming months engage in actions to set up the “Ukraine Nature Network”, hence continuing the work initiated as part of this project.



124.000,00 €


27.06.2022 - 27.03.2024