First steps towards the creation of a steppe inventory in Ukraine
Alexei V. Vasilyuk (Ukrainian National Environmental Center, Kiev)
From of 2009, there has been no official information available in Ukraine on the size and configuration of existing steppe communities., Participants of the “Save Ukrainian Steppe!” public campaign therefore made a decision to begin inventorying steppe areas on a voluntary basis.
Satellite images that are publicly available through Google Earth software were used as a basis for compiling the steppe inventory. The first stage involved mapping the areas that on the images looked like steppe. The presence of steppe plants listed in the Red Book or in other conservation lists was chosen as a principal criterion of the importance of an area for the conservation of steppe communities. Both self-generated data and data collected by other researchers were used, whether or not these had exact or approximate geographical locations, together with available maps.
Preliminary results clearly showed that the locations of steppe areas hardly corresponded at all with the location of existing protected areas. There are just a few steppe nature refuges and five steppe nature reserves in the Ukraine that together cover a minimal portion of the total steppe area. At the same time, the vast majority of regional protected areas have little to do with steppe ecosystems at all. Their main purpose is to protect various plantations, such as of pine, pear, acacia or oak trees, ponds and even tree windbreaks.
The next stage of work planned will determine the current state and quality of the identified steppe areas.
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