About a tragedy in nature …

Of course, every from us knows as minimum several examples when human activity was the main reason for disappearing of species of plants and animals. It is terrible pages of our history, and unfortunately they aren’t often instructive for our politicians and other persons who has a right to accept key solutions concerning nature. As a result, the situation continues changing for the worse (WWF’s Living Planet Report 2016). We have started talking not only about disappearing of separated species, we have started talking about disappearing of ecosystems.

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A steppe area with Stipa pennata L. in Kyiv region (Ukraine)

Nowadays the big attention of our society is directed to importance of conservation of tropical rain forests. It is right and understandably! However there is another ecosystem at the Earth which is in critical state too. But this problem isn’t enough known, and, unfortunately, the humanity is not concerned about current state of the steppe biome still. Why? I don’t know for sure …

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A steppe area in the Donetsk Upland (Lugansk region, Ukraine)

Probably, my knowledge and experience will not be enough for characteristics of general situation in Eurasian Steppe Zone from Hungary to China. But I will try to make short description and to show pictures from Ukrainian steppes which had tragical history.

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So, steppes form the youngest zonal type of vegetation in Ukraine and were formed during the Holocene. The development of Ukrainian culture mainly took place in the steppes, even though steppes occupied only about 40% of the modern territory of Ukraine. The boundless space of the steppe was the natural habitat for many animal and plant species, the home and source of food for many people, and inspired them to heroic deeds and even death in defense of their native land. Unfortunately, presently only about 3% of the natural and semi natural steppes of Ukraine remain.

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Plowed up a steppe area with rare species of plants for planting of pines (Mykolaiv region, Ukraine)

There are several forms of anthropogenic influence on the steppes in Ukraine,
causing destruction and strong changes in the natural vegetation. Foremost is the destruction of the integrity of the soil cover as a result of ploughing, mining operations and excavations.
The most terrible period – the Soviet regime, because the Soviet Power saw extensive agriculture as the main vehicle for development of the country, with the result that during the years 1922–1941 and 1945–1960 all plain steppes in the territory of modern Ukraine were tilled completely. Even some reserves did not escape this common lot. Nikita Khrushchev (Head of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union) signed an ukase on ploughing up most of the “Askania Nova” Reserve and declared that: “To give a Soviet citizen a notion about steppe, 300 ha is enough”, a phrase that very good describes Soviet policy at that time.

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Former steppe areas in Lutugine district, Lugansk region (Ukraine)

The post is the first introduction with the important problem of steppe conservation. The Global Botanical Portal can’t stay away, therefore we will come back to it many times with aim to pay special attention to endangered steppes of botanists of the World. Because, steppe is wonderful and so important for normal living of our planet!

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A steppe area with Stipa pulcherrima K.Koch in borders of Kamianets’-Podilsky city (Khmelnytskyi region, Ukraine)

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Blooming of Iris pumila L. in Mykolaiv steppes (Mykolaiv region, Ukraine)

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Tulipa suaveolens Roth along Syvach Lake (Kherson region, Ukraine)

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Adonis vernalis L. in Crimean steppes (Kerch Peninsula, Ukraine)

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The steppe near Stakhaniv city in May (Lugansk region, Ukraine)

Have a nice weekend,
Mykyta Peregrym

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