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, : (Carbon, climate, and land-use in Ukraine: Forest sector) Book May 2014 READS 5 authors, including: Anatoly Shvidenko ...

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The land use-land cover history of Ukraine in the 20th century was driven by two major types of processes. The first one was a continual increase in the area of ploughed land (currently 78% of all arable land of the country). By 1960s, the share of the tilled land in southern Forest Steppe and Steppe zones reached a critical level that came into conflict with sustainable (non-exhaustive) use of agricultural lands. After 1920s, when the forest cover of the country reached its historical minimum, substantial efforts were made in order to increase the area of Ukrainian forests. This process has been accelerated during the second half of the 20th Century with a peak that has been reached during the last three decades of the former Soviet Union: from 1960s to early 1990s, the total area of Ukrainian forests increased at about one third: from 7.1 to 9.6 million ha (2011). However, vast regions of the country have large territories with an insufficient percentage of forest cover where protective components of landscapes (almost exclusively forests) are not able to provide sufficient protection of environment, soil and water.

Often, these territories are situated in regions with a high level of development of industry that heavily contaminates the environment. An excessive intensification of agriculture and insufficient land use management have been causing permanent deterioration of agricultural lands, development of water and wind erosion, wide distribution of ravines and degradated lands etc. By early 1990s, only 13 million ha of agricultural lands had a complete system of shelter belts, protective forest stands and trees outside of forests. The current field protective shelter belt cover percentage comprises only 1.2%, while the minimal scientifically solid estimate should be 3.5%. The current state of existing shelter belts is not satisfactory and a decent state control of those is absent. All this together indicates a need for increasing the state and societal understanding of the exceptional role of forests and trees outside forests for future national welfare. The further intensification of reforestation and aforestation activities in the country and improvements of structure of the agro-landscapes are an obligatory prerequisite of sustainable development, economic revival and providing the normal environment for future generations. This is an urgent national task which should be solved independently on ways of future developments of the country.

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Theoretically, such an understanding exists at the state level. A number of governmental decisions on the topic have been taken at end of 1990s and early this century. However, the level of practical realization of these plans was far from satisfactory. A recently adapted a Concept of agro-forestmelioration development in Ukraine (decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine dated on 18 September 2013 No 725-p) confirms such understanding of the situation. The Concept objectively estimates state of agriculture land in Ukraine and suggests ways for improving the situation defining necessary institutional changes and improving the legislation that has to provide optimization of areas of protective forest linear protective plantings by the zonal principle and effective management, and should ensure an ecological prerequisite for balanced development of agrolandscapes. This has to give a possibility to resolve the problem of protection of soils from degradation and contamination, to raise the level of crop yield, increase production of ecologically safe production, providing the food safety of the country, maintain the landscape and biological diversity, and creation of ecologically safe living condition for the population (page 3 of the Convention). However, the Concept considers only linear protective tree planting and does not contain any systems consideration of optimization of structure of agro-landscapes of the country. The State Target Program Forests of Ukraine for 20102015 foresees providing the aforestation at area of 415 thousand hectares that is even higher than we suggested in our advanced scenario. There remains to hope that these new documents will be realized better than their predecessors.

Among other most important problems that affect long-term land use land cover changes in the Ukraine, that is the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power station which has resulted in radioactive contamination of vast territories. Additionally, dramatic political, social and economic changes in the Ukraine during the last 15 years have substantially affected the land use policy, both in agriculture (substantial areas of agricultural land, particularly marginal land, are not used etc.) and in forestry (areas of reforestation and aforestation have decreased; the domestic demand for wood was less than the Annual Allowable Cut; financing of important forest management activities was not satisfactory; etc.).

As a whole, the future climate is not expected to be more favorable for forest and agriculture than current one for vast parts of the country. It is expected a substantial increase of temperature and a slight decrease of ̲ ʲ precipitation, particularly in Summer. The increasing aridity in the south and some other regions will impact the countrys forests in an evidently negative way that likely will cause decreasing productivity and vitality of the forests there. A number of other drivers nitrogen deposition, supposed improvements of forest management, CO2 fertilization effect, some others should positively impact productivity of forests and their impact on major biogeochemical cycles during the next decades. However, air pollution, water and soil contamination will impact forests in a clearly negative way.

Some negative processes are already observed, for instance in pine forests in the steppe and elevated mortality in oak stands of the Forest-steppe and Steppe. The overall impacts of global change on Ukrainian forests are regionally specific and difficult to be reliably predicted. Current science on global change confirms a high probability that the climate in major part of Ukraine will be less favorable for forests and will generate substantial risks for surviving of some types of forest ecosystems.

The major drivers that define condition of the forests and functioning the forest management in Ukraine were used for development of two probable scenarios of forest land use-land cover change in Ukraine during 20152030: an inertial (business-as-usual) scenario that is based on previously and currently observed tendencies of land use land cover change and the real situation in forestry and the forest sector of the country, as well as an advanced scenario that plans to solve the most important pressing environmental problems connected to the forests and agro-forestry during the period of the forecast. Attempting at making the advanced scenario not too far from reality, the prospective governmental decisions and programs of future developments were used for the first stage of the forecast. In essence, the advanced scenario is not optimal but is considered as an intermediate and most urgent step along a way of transition to sustainable land management and sustainable forest management in the country. An important feature of the advanced scenario is its interdisciplinary character: a strategy of optimization of agricultural landscapes structure by forestry and agroforestry measures are considered additionally to actions within the forest management sector. Such an approach is understood as the most important component of the national land use policy during the next several decades.

As a result of the provided analysis, it has been shown that implementation of governmental decisions which have been taken at early beginning of this century about improvements of agro-landscapes by

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providing a number of national actions on aforestation is an obligatory but not sufficient minimum, which would promote decreasing the major negative processes on agricultural lands and improving state of the environment.

Evidently, the length of the forecast period that was used in the above scenarios is too short for comprehensive judgments on the relevance of the discussed adaptation and mitigation strategies in the long run. Nevertheless, some previous and current assessments of the impacts of climate change on environment and forest vegetation of Ukraine that were made based on a number of Global Circulation Models and regional semi-empirical climatic models showed that the adverse effects of the long period climate change very likely will be significantly worse than the considered above change until 2030s. In spite of an approximate character of the current climatic predictions, they highlighted crucial importance of urgent development of anticipatory adaptation and mitigation strategies for the country as a whole and particularly for its forests and agricultural sectors.



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