FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Status of Crimea's Natural Reserves Uncertain
Eugene, OR, August 20, 2014 -- Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide partners in Ukraine are concerned about the fate of protected natural areas in Crimea. "The status of Charivna Havan National Park, Yalta Mountain Forest Reserve, Cape Martyan Reserve, and three other natural reserves are uncertain," says Olena Kravchenko, Executive Director of Environment-People-Law, based in Lviv, Ukraine.
"The situation is complicated. These are lands owned by Ukraine, which has the right and obligation to protect them, but we keep receiving reports that rich Russians are turning parts of these parks and reserves into private estates. However, there is no possibility to handle these territories properly at present because of Russia's illegal occupation of Crimea."
Olena and her staff at EPL have worked for years to protect the environment through law in Ukraine. EPL was founded by the late Professor Svitlana Kravchenko, a world expert on human rights and the environment. EPL has a staff of 13.
While worried about the situation in Crimea, EPL recently celebrated a court order returning to public use similar state-owned, protected lands near Kyiv that the country's ex-President Viktor Yanukovych had closed off for his private hunting.
"This is one of the first decisions in Ukraine that returns illegally expropriated state property to the public," says Olena. "Recreation areas must be accessible by the public and not passed to private hands."
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