Newsletter summer 2015 of the Ukraine NGO Saving of Agrobiodiversity in the Carpathians
1. About our work
2. Carpathian Buffalo breeding Project
3. Mountain Hucul
4. Rishca the old mountain cow from the Carpathians
5. Developments in Synevirski National Park
1. About our work:
The Carpathian Mountains are the largest living ecosystem in Europe. Poor infrastructure makes it a still suitable habitat for Bears, Wolfs and Lynx. Little exploitation of the natural recources preserved rich cultural habits and traditional livestyle in many areas. But political pressure together with ongoing industrialisation is changing nature and culture to EU standards. The Romanian example is showing the devastating influence of the EU. Dramatic loss of biodiversity and cultural livestyle are the result of eight years EU politics. The Buffalo population in Romania dropped down dramaticly durimg this period. From Brussel new classified diseases like blue tunge made central and north Romania to a carantene zone. Over more than eight month local people could not sell or buy living cows any more and had to allow artificial insemination with genetical modified high breed cows from western Europe like Belgium Blue. At the same time Chinese entering the marked and buying meat everywhere. This caused a dramatic drop of old cow breeds. Centralisation and mass production following. This is a smart type of industrial dictatorship, because the Blue Tunge disease has always been there and not harming any small farm until now.
The opposite happened in Ukraine. Chaos and anarchie was written in the media but the local fact in Zacarpathia is decentralisation, independency, self sufficiency and relying on the high quality of mulitfunctional usage from old breeds. Less money for infrastructure made local produced goods become more valuable. Political insecurity stopped investors cutting down the forest and local people are benefiting from own governance about the land and the forest.
Just one example: In the oak forest of Tjatschiv-Region in Zakarpathia Ukraine the local people are accused of „stealing“ from the state forest. They take the trees for themselves and for sale. Like two local man cutting 1-2 big oak trees at night at full moon and pulling them with horses out, they are as careful and calm as possible, trying not to leave any signs. The horses are good with the cooler nights. The horses do not need any roads or infrastructure. When there is „law and order“ the state is building roads into the forest from tax money, selling 2-3ha forest for clear cut to an international company and planting new, non local, fast growing tree species that will chance the acidity of the ground and the symbiotic mushrooms and with it the water quality and quantity.
The same happens to the local cow breed. The international working breeding stations are running out of money and governmental support, so the local people are keeping own bulls again. Of course after 100 years of organised breeding from the government most of the cows are already mixed breeds with modern races. But the local mountain cow of the carpathians has been established for more than 1000 years in the area. In the Soviet Union time new bulls where brought in, to gain higher productivity in meat or milk. But after 1994 local organised breeding took place again so one can see the modern types are disappearing and the traces of the old mountain cow Rishca is appearing almost only in the lowest developed mountain regions. The population of the cows in Zakarpathia is cleaning itself again by outcrossing the highbreed genetical material through adaptation and because of the still dominant old breed genes that has not been lost in this population till now.
Our NGO in Ukraine is working with exactly this philosophy: decentralisation, low influence from outside, supporting natural, self-healing processes and showing the benefits of old nature based culture and knowledge. We are not interested in supporting political or industrial movements but local governance that leads to a deeper interaction with nature and synergetic effects for ecosystems and people.
Our main focus is:
to maintain the Carpathian Buffalo as a breed in the mountains of Ukraine
to support small family businesses that respects old culture and the living nature
to reintroduce the Mountain Hucul to the old habitat of the Mountain Tarpan
to establish the Rishca/Mukaniza cow as a recognised breed in the Carpathians
to protect biodiversity hotspots from cultural change
to finance rescue actions of large mammals in the Carpathians
2. Carpathian Buffalo breeding project:
The Carpathian Buffalo population is still growing but not out of dangour. Since our NGO started work in 2009 no female Carpathian Buffalo was killed because of economical reasons. We are managing the population by controlling the bulls and selling for low money female Buffalos to promising owners. Our NGO is keeping the biggest nucleus herde in Zakarpathia with around 28 individuals. With big pleasure we recognise that other farms in Chust area like the one from Roman are continually growing. Some individuals, farmers and projects are still having big problems to survive and there is a group of 14 animals in Zakarpathia changing the owner already 3 times in the last three years. Positive examples like Vladislav from Bushtinow showing that 2-3 Carpathian Buffalos can be perfectly integrated in family farms to support children with high quality milk. The total number of Buffalos in Zakarpathia is already 78 individuals this summer 2015. Our NGO is keeping five Bulls with different blood lines on two different farms. By the end of this year we may be opening a new farm for 20 Buffalos that is sponsored by local people in colaboration and consultation with our NGO. Sad to see is that the traditional way of keeping Buffalos like in Kritschovo is coming to an end. The number of the last individuals living like this is less than 8 Buffalos in 3 Villages.
3. Mountain Hucul
Our work in Zakarpathia is including a rare type of mountain Pony. This Hucul Horses seem to be directly related to the extinguished european wild horse called Mountain Tarpan. Together with international experts we found some of these individuals in the Carpathians of Ukraine. For 6 years we keep them under semi wild circumstances and do selection of phenotype, intelligence, adaptation to climate and food and social behaviour. Our aim to release them into the Carpathians is becoming more realistic every year. Our new partner the Sinivirski National Park is a realistic and promissing option in the Horhanski massif. The first step of finding suitable individuals and area is finished. Next year will be probably the first individuals joining the traditional pasture Strimba Polonyna in Horhansky Massiv. The idea of financing this program with money from riding tourism has not been working out so well so we are discussing other financing options like meat production. The total number of individuals in Zakarpathia is less than 100. Our NGO is keeping 15 of them. Linda Röhl is offering riding trips in Chust and Tjatschiv-Region with 6 mares that are managed by our NGO.
4. Rishca the old Mountain cow from the Carpathians
Since last year we are working with the old type of mountain cow that can still be found in the low developed areas of Zakarpathia. Thanks to Hans Peter Grunenfelder and the Grovni Foundation we are establishing a Carpathian network with Romanian and Ungarian partners. The aim is to manage a population of minimal 200 individuals. At the moment we are buying some of this old style cows and giving them to our most reliable partners. Attila and Esta from Mirkuriatschuk in Romania are already keeping this animals with the help of our NGO and private money semi wild in the mountains with astonishing results. First studies from our NGO show that there are still animals like this in Mighiria and Tjatschiv-Region of Zakarpathia. We are registering them and buying available individuals, this program is benefiting from the existing experience and the network established by the Carpathian Buffalo breeding project.
5. Developments in Synevirski National Park
Together with the Director of Synevirski National Nature Park and partners in Kolotschava we are establishing new projects and networks in the Horhanski massif. Dr. Andreas Hohl is the initiator for the rescue action of the bears kept in the rehabilitation center of the park. A new homepage for coordination of this and different other projects in the area are in progress. At the moment we are discussing about a new german based NGO that is needed to initial funding. Center of this new NGO can be an old forester house in the center of the park. It will be also suitable as a Hostel and station to organise riding trips as well as blue berry collection and mushroom drying. For this we are building a new team of ukrainian people and search for european fundings.