Geographic location, specific features of lithogenic base and geological development, relief, climate, position of subterranean and surface waters, river network density,waterlogged area, features of ground cover,intensity and territorial distinctive features of anthropogenic activity, etc. Have an impact on the geography of Ukraine`s large and diverse fauna and flora. Wildlife which has nearly 45 thousand species in Ukraine, is classified as protozoa (over 1,200 species), flat worms (1,290), trematoda (540), arthropoda (39,000), fish (over 270), birds (344). Entered into the first edition of Ukraine`s Red Book were 85 species and subspecies of animals and into the second one, over 400 species of invertebrates and vertebrates.There are 6,640 species of freshwater and saltwater animals in Ukraine.
The traditional biocenoses undergo serious changes in the process of economic activity. This results in transformation of the species structure of animals, many of which becoming rare.
Game is widespread in Ukraine, for which hunting is allowed. Thus in late 1985,. There were 223.3 thou. hoofed and 86.9 thou. Fur-bearing animals. In late 1989, there were 263.6 thou. hoofed and 64.0 thou. fur-bearing animals and plenty of game birds. In the 1985 - 1989 period, the number of hoofed animals increased almost 20% whereas the number of fur-bearing animals decreased 14%. Changes in the total number of animals in 1985 through 1989 are characterized by the following ratios: in 1989 in Ukraine there were 14.7 thou. elks (11.8 thou. in 1985), 24.5 thou. deer (21.2 тис.), 58.8 thou.wild bores (52.0 thou.), 163.4 thou. roe deer (135.,2 thou.), 2.2 thou. other hoofed animals (2.0 thou.), 64.0 thou. squirrels (86.9 thou.), 1,801.8 thou. hares (1461.7 thou.), 30.8 thou.martens (28.5 thou.), 80.7 thou. red foxes (71.3 thou.), 60.1 thou. muskrats (59.0 thou.), 0.2 thou. minks (0.02 thou), 7.7 beavers (5.8 thou.), 1.4 thou. wolves (1.3 thou.), 0.6 thou. bears (0.7 thou.).
The number of wood grouses has recently decreased (from 5.1 to 4.9 thou. in 1985 through 1989) just as has that of black grouses (from 19.5 to 15.6 thou.). At the same time, there has been an increase in the number of partridges ( 614.9 to 723.5 thou.), wild geese ( 41.7 to 77.4 thou.) and wild ducks ( 3,000.3 to 4,581.8 thou.).
According to the geographic zoning carried out by О. Кіstyakovsky, Ukraine belongs to the holarctic zoogeographic region of the world. This region in turn consists of the European and Mediterranean subregions. The European zoogeographic subregion includes mixed-forest zoogeographic,forest-steppe zoogeographic, steppe zoogeographic, Carpathian zoogeographic provinces.
1. The mixed-forest province in Ukraine coincides with the Polissya area. This province is situated in the north-west of the country. It occupies the northern and central part of Volyn and Rivne oblasts, almost the whole of Zhytomyr oblast (save its southernmost part), the northern part of Kiyv oblast and the north-west of Chernigiv oblast. The province has the following wildlife: triton, eel, crucian, pike, bream, frog, grass frog, viper,grass-snake, lizard, wood grouse, black grouse, partridge, black stork,snipe,sandpiper, woodcock, woodpecker, thrush, tomtit, hawk, mole, beaver, hare, wild bore,otter, deer, wolf, catamount, etc.
2. The forest-steppe province is situated to the south-west of the mixed-forest one. It stretches from the south-west to the north-east of the country. The province grows narrow in the central Dnieper area of Ukraine. Typical of this province is internal territorial differentiation with its forest-steppe fauna which is, in the south-east, transitional to the steppe one and, in the north-west, to the forest one. Here there is triton, carp,pike, bream, snake, steppe viper, gopher, partridge, hawk, fox, lark, badger, polecat, marten, wild bore, bat, muskrat, roe, deer, etc.
3. The steppe province occupies the southern and south-eastern part of Ukraine. This province grows wide south-eastward. The province also includes the northern steppe part of the Crimea. Prevalent here is steppe fauna: green toad, water snake, steppe viper, lark,steppe eagle, crane, partridge, ground hare, dolphins, nutria, stoat, hamster, field vole, moufflon, fallow deer, etc.
4. The Carpathian province occupies the Ukrainian Carpathians and the adjacent area of Precarpathia and Transcarpathia within Transcarpathian, Chernivtsi, Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk oblasts. Local fauna has a number of endemic species and is rather diverse. Typical of Carpathian forests are Alpine and Carpathian tritons, salamandras, common frogs, black woodpeckers, golden eagles, squirrels, wild bores, otter, deer, wolves,lynxes, catamounts, foxes, bears, bisons, etc.
The Mediterranean subregion is represented in Ukraine by the zoogeographic district of the Mountain Crimea and the extrazonal plain and river, reservoir and coastal zoogeographic districts.
1. The Moutain Crimea zoogeographic district includes the southernmost and south-easternmost part of the peninsula -- the Mountain Crimea and the southern coast of the Crimea. The species composition of wildlife here is influenced mostly by climatic conditions which differ from those in the adjacent steppe areas. This district has in particular lizzards, Crimean geckoes, sea-gulls, rock pigeons, southern nightingales, vultures, deer, moufflons, etc.
2. The extrazonal plain and river, reservoir and coastal zoogeographic districts come within the Mediterranean subregion rather conditionally: prevalent in them is not Mediterranean climate, but the climate of steppe and forest-steppe areas. These districts include the coastal areas of the Dnieper, Dniester and other reservoirs, as well as the Buh-Dnieper, Danube and Dniester creeks. The distinctive feature of the fauna of these areas is its close ties with the reservoirs. These parts especially abound with fish and waterfowl. Danube herring, scad, bream, carp, terrapin,sheet-fish, pike, swan, stork,cormorant, gray goose, duck, otter, beaver, etc are widespread here.
There are over 2,400 species of animals in the Black sea and the Sea of Azov
Geographic location, specific features of lithogenic base and geological development, relief, climate, position of subterranean and surface waters,river network density,waterlogged area, features of ground cover,intensity and territorial distinctive features of anthropogenic activity, etc. Have an impact on the geography of Ukraine`s large and diverse fauna and flora.
By scientific classification, the territory of Ukraine is included in the Circumbural and, partially (the Crimean southern coast), Mediterranean regions of the Boreal subrealm of the Holarctic floristic kingdom and has vegetation typical of the said regions.
Ukraine`s flora and its geography are sufficiently studied. Ukraine is among the countries having a most diverse flora. Of 300-350 thousand varieties of higher plants of the world, Ukraine has over 25 thousand, including nearly 4 thou. aquatic plants, over 15 thou. fungi, over a thousand lichens, nearly 800 moss plants, etc.
Proof of the abundance and diversity of vegetation per one unit of Ukraine`s area is the following comparison. The flora of vascular plants in Ukraine numbers 4,523 species whereas in Belarus, 1,460; Moldova, 1,762; Poland, 2,300 species. In Ukraine one family accounts for much more species: 4.45; in Belarus, 2.66; in Poland, 3.00.
The most numerous in terms of species composition are aster, cereal, legumes, rose, labiate, cruciferous and carnation families. Ukraine has nearly 80 species of trees, 280 shrubs, 985 annual herbs. Of the higher plants, 600 species are endemic. There are as many rare and endangered plants. Over 150 species of plants were incorporated in the first edition of Ukraine`s Red Book which was established in 1976 . The Book`s second edition included already over 400 kinds of vascular plants. There are particularly many endemic and endangered plants in the Crimean and Carpathian mountains – almost half of all endemic plants and nearly 30% of all rare and endangered species. Primeval vegetation has only survived in 20% of the country`s territory. On the other hand, over a thousand species of plants are cultivated in Ukraine. The country`s flora has seriously changed in the process of economic activity. In the 16th-19th centuries, the forest area in the forest-steppe zone had decreased by almost five times and the area of most valuable oak and beech woods decreased by a quarter in the 19th century alone.
Over 30% of Ukraine`s territory is taken up by tracts of primeval vegetation among which is a wide variety of medicinal (100 species), vitaminous (over 200), adipose and oil-bearing (300), melliferous (over 1000), tanning and dyeing ( 100 each) plants. Among undesirable plants of Ukraine`s flora are nearly 600 kinds of weeds.
Primeval natural vegetation has survived mostly in forests, reserves, permanent pastures, gully slopes.
Ukraine has around 100 species of trees. Ukrainian forests perform varied functions: they provide valuable raw material, play an important anti-erosion, climatic, sanitary, environmental role.
Ukraine`s forest area considerably decreased in the late 19th – early 20th centuries. In the 1880-1932 period, for example, the entire forest area in the regions (within the 1939 boundaries.) diminished from 4.8 to 3.5 million hectares, or by 1.3 million hectares, and forestation decreased accordingly from 10 to 7 %. During the aforesaid period, the Polissya area reportedly lost nearly 60% and the forest-steppe zone, nearly 40% of forests. At the time, the forest area in the eastern part of Ukraine diminished by an average of 40-50 thou. hectares a year.
Unmethodical felling and utilization of land occupied by forests for farming resulted in the rapid decrease of the area of forest tracts in the western parts of Ukraine. In the 19th century, the forest area here diminished by 250-300 thou. hectares. The species structure of forests, too, underwent changes: in the Carpathians, the areas of Carpathian spruces were expanded at the expense of the areas of beeches and ,in the Podillya region, oaks were displaced by birches, hornbeams and asps.
The country`s forest area today constitutes 14.3% of its territory. This is half as many as, for example, in Poland. This is why an afforestation program is underway in Ukraine. The area of forests which were felled unmethodically in wartime and postwar years, is being enlarged continuously. Since the 1960`s, almost 4.5 million hectares have been planted with trees. Afforestation is in progress, in particular, in the steppe zone. Forests here play mostly a nature-protection role and are planted in the form of forest belts. As a result, Ukraine`s forests took up 8.6 million hectares in 1989 which is 1.4 million hectares as many as in 1965
Percentage of forest lands on different parts of Ukraine is not uniform. It is much higher in the west and the north, specifically in the Carpathians and the Crimean mountains. Percentage of forest lands gradually decreases southward and southeastward. In the country`s west and north, forest tracts constitute 20-40%, in the Carpathians, over 60%, in the Polissya area, 25.7%. In the south, the forest areas are not large (percentage of forest lands in the Crimea is 10% and in the steppe zone, 4%). Although the forest tracts and forest belts here perform important anti-erosion and water-accumulation functions, they are often developed unmethodically. More often than not, there is no proper care of forests planted by man in the south.
Climatic conditions in Ukraine are conducive to the fast growth of wood. While its average growth in the USSR was 1.4 cub m per hectare of a forest area, it was 4 cub m in Ukraine. Also, it will be noted that the highly productive stands account for 75% of forest lands in Ukraine.
Ukraine is self-sufficient in wood by a mere 20-25%, and the balance is imported from Russia.
Ukraine has considerable reserves of valuable species of trees. Oak plantings, for instance, account for 15%, beech ones, 20%, ash ones, 10% of the related plantings of the former USSR. It is forest areas which are planted with valuable kinds of trees that are being enlarged fastest. At the same time, areas with less valuable varieties (asps, hornbeams) are being reduced.
Ukraine`s forests have coniferous and larch varieties. Coniferous ones which account for 54% of the total forest yield, prevail. Pine trees (35% of all coniferous resources) are mostly in the Polissya area. Spruces account for 16 % (Carpathians) and fir trees (also the Carpathians), 3%.
Almost 40% of forest yield are larch varieties: long oak (18%), short oak ( 4%), beech (13%), hornbeam (2%). Oak trees are predominant in the Polissya area and the forest-steppe zone, beech trees, in the west and in the Crimea. Birch trees, asp trees, alder trees, poplars, etc. constitute 7% of forest yield and grow mostly in the Polissya area and the forest-steppe zone.
In 1989, Ukraine`s total forest yield was 1,319.9 million cub m which is almost 300 mil. cub m as much as in 1978 р. (1,025.5 mil. cub m). There is nearly 0.2 hectares of forest per capita and 26 cub m of forest yield per capita in Ukraine. These indicators are rather low, but the country has the necessary potential to improve them.
The scale of felling forests of major utilization and forests for renewal has recently been stabilized and reached 26-27 thou.hectares per year in 1980-1989. Also stabilized is the felling of trees in the process of tending and sanitation ( 0.5-0.7 mil. hectares per yea).
In 1975, the forestry zoning of Ukraine was developed. The forestry region was identified as the major taxonomy of forestry zoning. It is characterized by the commonness of natural conditions and forestry types. The regions in turn are split into forestry districts and the districts, into forestry divisions.
Ukraine has 4 plains and 2 mountain forestry regions, 15 forestry districts and 41 forestry divisions.
There are also other forest zoning concepts. According to P.S Pasternak and others, for example, the country`s territory is divided (1980) into 7 forestry regions, 12 districts and 5 subdistricts. In this case, the regions include: the Forest region (the Western Podillya and Eastern Podillya districts), the Forest Right Bank region (Podillya and Cherkasy districts), the Forest-steppe Left Bank region (Kharkiv district), the Northern Steppe region (Middle Dnieper, Izyum Starobilsk, Donbas districts), the Carpathian Forest Mountain region (Transcarpathian and Precarpathian districts), the Crimean mountain region (Crimean mountain district) and the South Steppe forestry region (South steppe district).
Ukrainian forests abound with berries, mushrooms, fruit of wild plants, medicinal plants. They also play an important waster-protection role and are used for the population`s recreation. Growing in the forests are pear trees, apple trees, cherry trees, currants, sea-buckthorns, dog-roses, wild strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, bilberries, etc.
In Ukraine, nearly 250 varieties of valuable plants that are used in medicine, have been recognized as medicinal, including 150 varieties by scientific medicine. The other herbs are only used in folk medicine. A total of 100 varieties of herbs are collected for medical purposes. This is done above all in the Polissya area and the forest-steppe zone, as well as in the Carpathians. The scale of herb collection is much smaller in the steppe area. Due to the radioactive contamination of vast areas in the north and north-west of Ukraine that resulted from the Chornobyl NPP disaster, the territorial capacities for herb collection have been considerably reduced. For this reason, herb collection has to be intensified in other regions. This necessitates focusing greater attention on the protection and restoration of herb resources.
Ukraine abounds with such medicinal herbs as valerian, hips, tricolor violet, stramonium, camomile, vinca, viburnum, lavender, pepper mint, balm, celandine, St John`s wort to name but a few. Many varieties of wild-growing medicinal herbs have been entrered into the Red Book of Ukraine. Most herbs grow in natural conditions while some are cultivated by man. Used for treatment are leaves, stalks, fruit, roots. Herbs are normally collected in spring, summer and in the fall (seldom in winter).
In Ukraine, they collect every year nearly 25 thou. tonnes of birch sap, 150 tonnes of marketable honey, over 7 thou. tonnes of mushrooms, 7 thou. tonnes of wild fruit and berries, as well as over 5 thou. tonnes of herbs.