In May, 2015 at the session hall of the National Forestry University of Ukraine in Lviv the "ENPI East FLEG II" Programme in cooperation with the State Forestry Agency of Ukraine organized and conducted a professional meeting devoted to the development of hunting economy in Ukraine.
The main purpose of the meeting was to gather experts and stakeholders from hunting sector to discuss the available experience about national and European hunting models, as well as to propose their own vision for improving the national hunting model and law regulation documents.
The full day seminar was attended by over 30 representatives of forestry and hunting industry including scientists, government representatives, NGOs, as well as field professionals from state, private, and local community organizations.
More than 10 presentations were presented during the round table discussions. Under the focus of presented issues were: organizational models of hunting; managerial approaches that help to increase gaming fauna and the sustainable use of natural resources; gaming culture, traditions and organization of the process; conservation and increasing of rare and endangered fauna species; collaboration between hunting organizations and local communities. An economic analysis of management in Germany, Hungary and other countries was highlighted also.
The presentations started from the introduction into the hunting industry current state, the theme presented by the Head of Hunting and Gaming Department of the State Forest Resources Agency of Ukraine Mr. Ivan Sheremet.
Giving an overall picture of the hunting economy, Mr. Sheremet said that they have much lower number of game animals on their land in comparison to the other European Union countries mainly because of useless struggle against poaching due to very limited resources, ineffective law, and poor organizational structure of the hunting industry. He stated also about low investments in biotechnical engineering and overall low hunting culture. Thus, he indicated, that it is clearly became essential to create a special Hunting Service Departments in the regions of the country and special state hunting police force, that it is time to start developing trophy hunting culture including other work on promotion of cultural gaming to the level as it is developed in neighboring EU countries.
FLEG II consultant on hunting Dr. Mykola Myronenko, highlighted that hunting associations are not involved in the hunting as an economically driven process because the associations are simply not registered as tax payers but as a society groups. Dr. Myronenko explained also differences between Ukrainian and other European law regulations, the topic followed by other presented experts.
The participants recognized that the biggest challenge in the sector is how to reverse the situation and raise low number of wild animals close to the level with the populations in other European countries, which in its turn, could affect an increase in general fauna biodiversity.
Other presenters named the same problems indicating that the situation provoked economic loss in the industry as a whole, the formation of a new form of private gaming management, and increasing the number of conflicts between locals and the newly created private farms. These led to a negative image of the sector within the country, since the fenced areas for enclosure breeding of game animals in public state owned forests and even the loop holes for occupying land for building the private houses..
The participants searched for positive experience in hunting sector within Ukraine including a historical hunting practice in Galicia of western Ukraine, present organizational and management practice of state hunting institutions in Rivne and Lviv regions, in Kherson and Zaporizzya research institutions, and successful private hunting farms from Kyiv and Poltava regions. Also the positive experience from hunting associations "UTMR" was taken into account, the groups, which are the biggest users of hunting grounds in the country (>60%).
During the meeting, a group of experts shared the outcomes of a recent study tour to Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary, which was conducted previously by WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme office in Lviv on 10-14 March 2015. Among those who shared his impressions from a recent study trip was a Head of Hunting Department from Lviv Regional Forest and Hunting Directorate Mr. Vasyl Burmas. In particular, he presented a Polish model as the best fit to the Ukrainian, as the one which optimize the size of the hunting grounds, clearly articulates the economic and cooperation relationships with land owners, state, hunters, and other participated in the process bodies. Among other issues he presented the organizational structure of the Union of Polish Hunters, how a person could become a hunter, what exams he has to pass and what obligations he has to bear in order to still in the Union, the rules of hunting, etc.
“Main root problem of the domestic hunting industry is that primary hunting associations are not the subjects to the hunting economy” said FLEG II consultant on hunting Dr. Mykola Myronenko.
Head of Hunting Department from Lviv Regional Forest and Hunting Directorate Mr. Vasyl Burmas stressed on the philosophy created and kept around the industry: “The average citizen judges simple: there is no game because hunters shoot; if the crop in the fields destroyed that is because hunters do nothing. We should start from improving of our own culture of hunting and build public confidence in hunters.”
“Local communities have the opportunity to participate in presenting their interests in case of causing them financial harm as a result of a game management. In addition, local communities receive funds in the local budget as payment for hunting lease. These legislative provisions are allowing them to fully carry out and represent their interests in the hunting field” – NGO leader Oxana Stankievich-Volosyanchuk
“Modern hunting in the EU is based on the interpretation, which was set out in the European Charter on Hunting and Biodiversity (2007), promoting forms of hunting tourism that provide local communities socio-economic incentives for conservation and management of wild animals and their habitats, and biodiversity” - said Dr. Andriy-Taras Bashta from the Institute of Ecology of the Carpathians during his presentation on the experience of biodiversity care while hunting in the visited countries of Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary. He explained what the wild fauna species are available for hunting, in what the seasons, and how the rare and protected species are affected during the gaming in those countries.
NGO leader Oxana Stankievich-Volosyanchuk also presented the experience of stated countries on the legal and practical aspects of relationship between hunters and local communities. She summarized her presentation by the statement that local communities are actively involved in the management of hunting economy in Poland, especially in annual planning and allocation of hunting grounds.
During the discussions participants argued the possibility to introduce the experience of neighboring countries and implement in practice a renting/leasing fee for the use of land for gaming. This would encourage the managers to enhance incensement of wild animal populations, especially for trophy hunting, that would promote the industry as a whole. Among the most controversial issues that were also examined by the audience were the optimization of land size of hunting grounds, formation of the mechanism of damage estimation caused by game animals for farmers, and the transformation of current hunting societies into the fully responsible hunting organizations.
The participants agreed on the necessity and inevitability of rapid reforms in hunting sector. Present experts reviewed and approved the general tone of a developed concept of reformation of hunting industry of Ukraine. The document was prepared by separately created special working group, which includes the State Forest Resource Agency of Ukraine specialists, FLEG II Programme experts, and other professionals (available for public comment here).
Finally, the Programme expert group led by the consultant Mykola Myronenko invited all participants to submit their own proposals for the reformation of hunting and gaming industry in Ukraine.
The results of the discussion will be taken into consideration by the consultant in the preparation of the analytical study on improvement of the national hunting model, as well as additional technical legislation acts.