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Media: Russia destroys over 60,000 hectares of Ukrainian forests

by Martin Fornusek April 8, 2024 1:19 PM 2 min read
A Ukrainian infantryman walks through a forest towards his infantry position in the direction of Kreminna, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, on Feb. 15, 2024. (Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu via Getty Images)
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Russia's war against Ukraine has destroyed more than 60,000 hectares of forests, with the cost of damages amounting to at least Hr 14 billion ($360 million), according to an investigation by NGL Media published on April 8.

According to Ukraine's intelligence, the Kremlin authorized the destruction of Ukrainian forests for military and commercial purposes already at the start of the full-scale war in 2022. This represents yet another environmental impact wrought by Russia's war.

The State Forest Resources Agency estimated that almost 30% of Ukraine's forests have suffered some kind of damage due to hostilities. Based on NGL Media's analysis of satellite images, some 60,000 hectares were reportedly destroyed completely.

The outlet stressed that the figure of Hr 14 billion is merely the lowest estimate, not taking into account the value of wood that could have been produced on the affected territory or environmental damages.

Long-term ecological consequences may include lowering of the groundwater level, as forests retain water and prevent soil erosion. Further risks include the reduction of biodiversity, worsening of the air quality, rivers and ponds drying up, and fire outbreaks.

Then-Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said last April that Russia is actively destroying the natural resource potential of occupied territories,  harvesting forests on a large scale in Zaporizhzhia, Kherson, and other oblasts.

Forests in southern Ukraine were also impacted by Russia's destruction of the Kakhovka dam in June 2023.

Environment Minister Ruslan Strilets told Deutsche Welle on Jan. 31 that the environmental costs of Russia's war have already exceeded Hr 2.2 trillion ($56.6 billion). Kyiv has recorded 3,600 Russian crimes against the environment, he added.

Opinion: Green recovery in Ukraine is a strategic imperative for the EU
Two years of brutal, full-scale invasion by Russia has inflicted severe environmental damage on Ukraine, impacting the country’s rich biodiversity, contaminating land and water resources, and posing a direct threat to public health and safety. Addressing these challenges is crucial for the environme…
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