river bug


Cross-border protection and management of the River Bug

In support of international initiatives, CDI has completed studies on how further cross-border cooperation and collaboration can protect and maintain the eco-system of the River Bug, resulting in an international seminar and sets of specific recommendations.

Cross-border cooperation

Centre for Development Innovation (CDI), Wageningen UR and its European partners are making efforts to provide assurances for the rich plant and animal life in and around the River Bug. The river is an important corridor in the Pan-European Ecological Network, a linked network of European nature areas. The River Bug, forms the natural barrier between Ukraine and Poland and Belarus and Poland further downstream. The biological wealth of the River Bug, as yet unimpeded by major human interference, can be retained and protected solely by cross-border cooperation between Ukraine, Poland and Belarus. However, there are substantial political, social and economic differences between the three countries.


The project’s objective is to study the options for cross-border cooperation: how can the governments of Belarus, Ukraine and Poland work together to, for example, manage water stocks, maintain water quality and protect the range of plants and animals? A feasibility study has been conducted to review each country’s River Bug policy, also assessing existing cooperation and identifying impediments to more extensive cooperation. The study also assessed each country’s needs, wishes and willingness to cooperate. This assessment was made by interviewing representatives and government officials from the three countries.

International seminar

The findings were discussed during an international seminar, which marked the first meeting of water management and nature protection representatives from the three countries. The water managers from Ukraine and Poland have already been cooperating for some time on the formulation of a management plan for the River Bug within the context of European regulations. To date, there has been virtually no cooperation between Belarus and Poland and Belarus and Ukraine. The seminar resulted in a joint declaration and a plan of action with proposals for intensified cooperation which were submitted to the national governments, the European Union, the Council of Europe, and other international organisations.


The project’s researchers have submitted specific recommendations to improve the cooperation between the three governments. These include, for example, the designation of a cross-border Ramsar site at the border between Ukraine and Belarus. A Ramsar site is a wetland region of international significance, in particular as a habitat for waterfowl. Negotiations between the three governments have since resulted in an agreement in principle for the designation of a biosphere reserve, a nature reserve which offers protection to the local ecosystems and genetic values. It has been agreed that the three countries will harmonise studies and management of this nature reserve by exchanging information and holding joint meetings. Within the scope of the project, Polish biologists have provided training to their colleagues in Belarus and Ukraine to enable them to make inventories and carry out studies of the biodiversity of the River Bug in the appropriate manner.