Nationally rare plants destroyed under the wheels of Russian army vehicles

While the world takes steps to conserve rare and vulnerable species, European biodiversity is a casualty of the war in Ukraine. Today Russian army vehicles have driven over and destroyed large numbers of spring meadow saffron (Bulbocodium versicolor) in Velykyi Luh National Nature Park in south-east Ukraine. Included in the Red Book of Ukraine (the list of rare and threatened species) it is protected at national level.

Protecting rare spring flowers is one of the largest environmental campaigns in Ukraine each year. Many environmental organisations carry out scientific studies and conservation actions to preserve the colourful diversity of spring flowers, which carpet Ukraine’s forests, steppes and meadows.

Situated on the south bank of the Dnipro River’s Kakhovka Reservoir, Velykyi Luh National Nature Park (in English, Great Meadow National Nature Park) is historic steppe (grassland plain). Here, the spring meadow saffron (Bulbocodium versicolor) grows in open steppe areas, steppe slopes and sparse forest plantations, with the largest population at Mayachanska Balka.

Over the last 16 years the park has worked hard to protect, conserve and restore bulbocodium versicolor and as a result the area in which it grew expanded to two hectares. In an instant, the damage by the wheels of Russian vehicles has undone all these years of dedicated work. It will be impossible to recover the damage to the population of this rare plant quickly. It will take decades again.

We thank our conservationists for looking after our protected areas and caring for Ukraine’s natural resources.

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