"To preserve wild flora and fauna in the alienation and compulsory evacuation zone, it is planned to create a high-level biosphere reserve," the statement says. According to the minister, creation of the sanctuary will enable to study the impact of the accident on flora and fauna of the region in more detail. The reserve will include the majority of environmentally protected sites, already existing on the territory.
ForUm has asked ecologists and members of the parliament to comment on the initiative.
Yuri Boiko, vice PM of Ukraine:
- We have formed a working group engaged into study of the Chernobyl zone and its use. The basic variant provides for special-purpose use. Considering the experience of the team, the matter concerns the processing of radioactive waste.
As for the possible tourism-oriented use, the radiation background is within the norm. It is possible to earn money on everything, but it would be more efficient to use the zone for special-purpose projects.
Ravil Safiullin, minster for sport and youth:
- The exclusion zone is called like this not for nothing. If the radiation level exceeds the control standard, no people should be allowed in the zone. However, this is the question only specialists can answer.
Serhiy Shaparenko, expert on ecology:
- Not so long ago scientists confirmed in surprise that the Chernobyl accident was a good thing for the environment. Animals and plants have adapted to radionuclides, and it turned out that radiation impact is less harmful than human activities, like functioning of industrial enterprises, transport, powered farm operations. Since 1986, flora and fauna have thriven - new species of plants have appeared, such dispersed animal species as hare, fox, moose breed freely, and such rare for Europe species as bear, lynx, badger and even Przevalsky's horse have found perfect shelter in the alienation zone. Thus, the imitative on biosphere reserve can be promising.
Petr Kudan, director of the Polessky State Radio-Ecological Nature Reserve:
- In Belarus, such reserve was created back in 1988, and now it is the biggest and the most important natural reserve of the country. The reserve was organized in Belarusian alienation zone - on the territory of the three disaster-stricken districts of Gomel region - Braginski, Narovlianski and Hoinikski. There are 96 abandoned settlements on this territory, population of which made more than 22 thousand people before the accident. Our annual budget is several million dollars.
The reserve was created for radio-biological and ecological study. Human interference is minimal, and we have a possibility to observe the evolution of wild nature. After the removal of antropogenic stress, wildlife has recovered. Moreover, we specially imported some new species, including bison. We are also engaged into prevention of spread of radionuclides on neighboring territories. I believe all this can be implemented in Ukraine.
Oleksandr Naumov, participant in emergency clean-up after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, retired colonel:
- In fact, natural reserve already exist in the alienation zone and is inhabited by various animals, including Red List species. The question is how to protect the reserve from poachers and stalkers and where to take the money.
After the accident, the 30-kilometer territory was fenced, all houses were equipped with alarm system and the zone was patrolled by guards. However, within the time, the protection systems collapsed, and now the question is how to take the situation back under control.
Moreover, I believe educational tours must be held in the alienation zone to demonstrate the consequences of interaction with peaceful atom. We often hear about good initiatives, but even the best ideas often stalls at the first stage of implementation. Let's see what will happen with this one.
Yuri Andriyev, head of the All-Ukrainian public organization "Union Chernobyl-Ukraine":
- Polessky reserve in Belarus, for example, was opened almost immediately, but it fell into decay soon. The territory is not taken care of, and there is no one but frontier guards. The reserve our minister speaks about should not resemble Belarusian model. As for the very idea of reserve, it should have been created long time ago. There are 109 various species of birds alone, imagine animal species. None of the regions can provide similar variety. Thus, I believe the idea to create a reserve is appropriate, especially it concerns the 10-kiloneter zone around the Chernobyl station itself.
Vadym Dukanov, executive director of the Fund for development of ecology and energy markets:
- I believe the minister has already made calculations and knows better whether the idea can be turned into reality. In any case, I believe the initiative of creation a natural reserve in the Chernobyl alienation zone is better than the idea of setting a burial place for nuclear waste there. I want to remind that we are speaking about Ukraine's territory here, and ground disposal will turn this zone into a wasteland for many generations.
As for tourism, tours in Chernobyl are rather expensive. Mostly foreigners go there to tickle nerves. I think it is also possible to organize helicopter tours there as well. It is not a problem.
Valery Kalchenko, MP, head of the subcommittee on Chernobyl disaster, management of contaminated territories and social protection of victims:
- In my opinion, nothing should be created in the alienation zone. This zone was made to be excluded. It is still contaminated and chaotic. A natural reserve as I understand it is a place for animals and plants to live and for people to walk and enjoy environment. But we are talking about the alienation zone, for Christ's sake! As for the preservation of wild flora and fauna, it is being preserved just fine without any reserves...
Ofcourse, we should listen to the position of the author of this initiative. But basing on the information you gave me, I am dead against any reserves there.
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