river - by Curtis Fry


Introduction of EU standards and methods for habitat identification and classification

In support of Ukraine’s adoption of the EU Habitats Directive, CDI and partners supported the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, by training staff and by developing databases, catalogues and fieldwork manuals.

Policy documents of Ukraine’s Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources clearly indicate the wish to align nature protection practices with those applied in the European Union. Centre for Development Innovation (CDI), Wageningen UR was approached by Ukrainian experts to help to introduce methods and principles of the EU Habitats Directive in Ukraine. The objective of the project “Introduction of EU Standards and Methods for Habitat Identification and Classification” is to support the Ministry and experts to apply the basic principles of the Habitats Directive.

The Ukrainian Carpathians were chosen as a pilot area as this area is of great importance for biodiversity but also because it borders with EU countries who, like Ukraine, signed the Carpathian Convention.

Project Outputs
  1. Translation of the official text of the Habitats Directive, its annexes and the interpretation manual into Ukrainian.
  2. A catalogue of habitat types for the Ukrainian part of Carpathians including distribution maps based on EU habitats interpretation manual plus a field manual to support the identification and mapping of habitat types. 
  3. Database structure with a link to GIS to be used for the preparation of distribution maps of the habitat types in the Carpathians.
  4. Trained Ukrainian experts in the identification and mapping of habitat types and the use of field manual for habitat classification.  
  5. A strategy document for the Ministry of Ecology and Natural resources with recommendations on how to continue with applying the methodologies of the EU Habitats Directive in Ukraine including recommendations for organisational and institutional changes.
  6. Raised awareness on the importance of the Habitats Directive through the publication of information materials.

Implementation process

Translating the Habitats Directive into Ukrainian language posed many challenges because the terminology used in the Habitats Directive had often no equivalent in Ukrainian. Finding a matching description caused intensive discussions between experts and helped them to better understand the Habitats Directive.

In developing the catalogue of habitat types of the Ukrainian Carpathians concluding on a matching description of the Habitat types occurring in Ukraine with the habitats described in the interpretation manual of the Habitats Directive was a major challenge. To support the process a cross reference key between the Habitat types indicated in the Habitats Directive and the Ukrainian classification systems was made. In total 120 potential Ukrainian habitat types are identified and all have been included in the catalogue.

The catalogue also includes a manual for field work to support the identification of habitat types in the field. Ukrainian experts have been trained into the use of the field-work manual to identify habitat types.

The trainings focused on changing the mind set of Ukrainian experts to focus more on the ecological condition of the habitats of species and their requirements for protection and less on making long lists of individual plant species.

CDI helped the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources to draft a strategic document holding recommendations for institutional and organisational change and for follow up activities to further proceed with aligning nature conservation practices with those of the EU.