Dilemmas

National nature parks          


Model stories national nature parks

National nature parks

At the initiative of environmental scientists and local environmental activists, a campaign for the creation of a national nature park (NNP) has been launched by several rural communities in a picturesque location that is home to many historical and cultural monuments. According to global practice, the creation of an NNP is one of the most efficient means of nature protection, as it harmonises the interests of the local population with the needs of the environment.

However, initiatives for the creation of new NNPs in Ukraine often face problems, as land has to be withdrawn from commercial use and changes have to be made in terms of the priorities for natural resources management.

Negative

Conflicting interests
  • For the owners of forests, the creation of new NNPs means the withdrawal of significant areas of land from commercial use, leading to losses in terms of timber sales (clearcutting in NNPs is prohibited by law).
  • Hunters argue that they will be deprived of their rights, as hunting is prohibited in NNPs.
  • Big businesses are unhappy about the limitations that apply to the territory of the NNPs, in particular limitations regarding the construction of environmentally harmful enterprises.
  • Local communities think that once an NNP has been established, they will lose all their rights to use the area’s natural resources. They believe, for example, that they will no longer be able to walk in the forests, pick mushrooms and berries, pasture their cattle, cut wood or gather hay. Such unfounded fears are encouraged by "campaigning", and even outright intimidation, on the part of the forest lobby.
  • For local authorities, the creation of an NNP means a reduction in the taxes and duties paid into the local budget, and a loss of jobs in the forestry business. Local administrations typically prefer to see big investors that promise plenty of resources in the social sphere, and the creation of many jobs, in return for the construction of environmentally hazardous production facilities or the ruthless exploitation of local natural resources — clearcutting in forests, air pollution, water pollution and resource extraction.
Positive

Possible solutions
  • Before an NNP is created, meetings should be organised by environmentalists to inform local residents about the benefits of the park for the development of the local community, and to gain their support in the fight against the corporate interests of foresters and hunters, as well as of private investors keen to have exclusive rights to exploit the area’s natural resources.
  • Using the example of an existing NNP, the advantages of balanced development should be demonstrated, clearly showing how environmentally friendly food production can be promoted by local farmers in the commercial area of the NNP.
  • Investments in the territory of the proposed NNP should be encouraged in order to facilitate the development of energy-saving technologies, the sustainable use of natural resources, recreation, tourism and traditional crafts; and small and medium-sized businesses connected with recreation and tourism should be promoted.
  • In the early stages of NNP design, a balanced approach to the area’s problems is essential in order to take fully into account the interests of the communities and to prevent conflicts arising in connection with commercial activity. This should be done in line with the principle that the size of the territory is less important than having an area that is well planned, well thought out, and free of conflicts.

Varying viewpoints


Local authorities
The local authority does not take up a definitive stand regarding the advantages of the NNP, having only a vague awareness of its role in the NNP structure, and being uncertain about the new environmental regulations. It is ready to make concessions to big "dirty" investors, turning a blind eye to environmental degradation in return for the creation of new jobs.

Business sector
Big businesses view the creation of an NNP as undesirable, as it would limit their exploitation of the area’s natural resources.

Small and medium-sized businesses view the NNP as an opportunity to widen their businesses in the spheres of recreation, tourism, and the marketing of environmentally clean food products.

Citizens
Citizens are currently undecided. They are concerned by the scaremongering on the part of big businesses, and tend to believe the claims and sops offered by "dirty" investors, although they are becoming more environmentally aware and more capable of self-organisation to support NNP creation.

Environmentalists
The creation of a network of NNPs is a precondition for the sustainable development of the area, the protection of biodiversity, and the prevention of environmental disasters.