By the beginning of the 21st century, rivers in Ukraine remained slightly changed and are the few ecosystems that managed to avoid large-scale transformation. Today they can be benchmarks of mountain river ecosystems in Europe, and this is precisely their main value, said biologist Oksana Stankevich-Volosyanchuk, of the NGO “Ecosphere”, Uzhgorod, Ukraine.
In a webinar, Oksana Stankevich-Volosyanchuk said small hydropower industry got a second wind in the Carpathians after almost half a century of calm. The “dirty” carbon energy must be now replaced with “green” renewable energy. But in the conditions of the Carpathians, for this it is necessary to build a powerful network of cascades of small hydroelectric power stations on each mountain stream.
Such a large-scale project was presented by the regional authorities in 2012. It was about 360 SHPPs with a dozen reservoirs in the upper reaches of the rivers. This project did not find support either from the environmental community or among the scientific community, or among local communities. It is because the implementation of this project would mean the targeted use of only one ecosystem service - hydropower, at the cost of the loss of all other ecosystem services provided by the mountain rivers of the Carpathians. The negative impact of hydroelectric power plants on the mountain rivers of the Carpathians is observed on the example of a decrease in biodiversity and a decrease in the number of species, the appearance of invasive species within a year or two after putting the object into operation. Any interference in the life of the river leads to some kind of loss. And the most important of these is the loss of regulatory ecosystem services, which are key to adapting to climate change.
Within the framework of this project, for the first time pilot mapping of the main ecosystems of the Uzh river basin was carried out. It is a trans-boundary river with pronounced characteristics of a mountain river in the upper and middle reaches, and with characteristics of a flat river in the lower reaches, the main part of which is in neighboring Slovakia.
Sergey Savchenko, National Ecological Centre of Ukraine, said that within the project “Impact of hydropower on river ecosystems and ecosystem services - some results of an international project implemented within the framework of the regranting scheme of the Civil Society Forum in the Eastern Partnership of the European Union”, an algorithm for processing data from the "Copernicus Land Globe" service was proposed and presented for the purpose of determining ecosystem types according to the MAES classification.
The results of pilot mapping of ecosystems of Uzh (Ukraine) and Kura (Azerbaijan and adjacent countries) river basins according to the proposed algorithm using data from the "Copernicus Land Globe" are presented. On the basis of mapping, the prevailing types of basin ecosystems are identified and their percentage share is given.
The international webinar “Assessment of ecosystem services of river basins - an opportunity to assess the true impact of hydropower on the environment” was held in Chisinau in connection with the completion of the project “Impact of hydropower on river ecosystems and ecosystem services - some results of an international project implemented within the framework of the regranting scheme of the Civil Society Forum in the Eastern Partnership of the European Union.