We Will Save Our River!

Grant Recipient

"Lytsarsky Club" (Knights' Club) Public Organisation

Project Leader

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Olexandr Semenchenko


D. Govarda St., 98, 
Stepanivka village,
Kherson city, 73488
Tel: +38 0552 263322
E-mail: alkor@alkor.org.uk
www: http://dansan.public.kherson.ua


The creation of conditions to involve the population in river rehabilitation by raising public awareness and rehabilitating natural sites.


  • to conduct a regional environmental expedition along the River Viryovchyna in Khersonska Oblast;
  • to prepare a scientific rationale for the establishment of two protected areas of local importance in the basin of the River Viryovchyna;
  • to participate in organising and holding public hearings on the problem of drinking water in Kherson city;
  • to carry out nature-protection activities with the involvement of all the interested users of the river - the local population, summer residents, cattle owners, holidaymakers, fishermen, workers in agricultural and industrial enterprises and representatives of the local authority.

Project Area

Mykolaivska and Khersonska Oblasts


A public evaluation of the River Viryovchyna was made

During autumn 2003 and winter and spring 2004, KC members conducted ecological-cultural field surveys in the part of the river valley that lies in Kherson Oblast. They conducted visual research and took photos of the present state of the riverbed, identified point sources of river pollution, and monitored human impact on the river. They studied the landscape, took photos of natural landscapes in the river basin, mapped plant communities and monitored the fauna. They also collected plant samples in order to establish a breeding centre for native plants. It was discovered that the state of the river valley within Kherson city was catastrophic. There were no protected riverbanks or water-protection zones; riverbanks were covered by houses and domestic buildings, animal and industrial complexes; discharges from the city wastewater treatment plant flowed into the river. There was a dump of solid communal waste on the river bank, and very often a great of rubbish was visible in places where the banks should be protected.

On the basis of the field data gathered, scientific rationales for the establishment of two protected areas were prepared: for the "Viryovchyna floodplains" landscape reserve of local importance and the "Ostrivets" (Small Island) landscape monument of local importance.


Awareness-raising and ecological activities were carried out

Since February 2003, KC has been a member of the Initiative Group on the issue of poor drinking water quality in Kherson. In conjunction with Working Groups on the "Toloka" project (http://www.toloka.kiev.ua), which includes more than 20 NGOs, three round table meetings were held: 20 November 2003 - "The State of Water Bodies of Kherson City and Reasons for the Decline in Drinking Water Quality", 22 March 2004 - "River Viryovchyna - Beauty and Pain", and 28 March - discussion of joint actions devoted to improving the environmental state of the river.

During autumn 2003, a 2-ha landscape park was established at a water-protection zone on the river where the land remained unploughed. On 14 November 2003, after an official appeal to the City Mayor, KC received 70 trees, which were planted around the "Ostrivets" natural landscape monument.

On 25 November 2003, KC took part in the training session, "Local Authorities and the Public - a Mechanism for Interaction", in which people's deputies from rayon and village councils and representatives of NGOs took part. KC prepared an appeal to the people's deputies of rayon councils about the critical state of the River Viryovchyna and the establishment of a model (reference) section of the river near Stepanivka village, in Kherson city, Suvorivsky Rayon. On 26 March 2004, Suvorivska Rayon Council in Kherson made decision #128, "On the Critical Environmental State of the River Viryovchyna". With the help of the "Knights Club", an appeal to Kherson Oblast and City Councils was prepared. It contained a proposal to develop an integrated programme for the environmental rehabilitation of the River Viryovchyna and to take urgent action to implement articles of the Water Code of Ukraine, namely to establish water-protection zones and maintain them properly with the involvement of NGOs.

Together with the Environmental Department of Kherson Regional Museum, KC organised an exhibition, "River Viryovchyna - Beauty and Pain", to mark International Water Day (22 March 2004). The exhibition included herbariums, photos, maps, booklets and posters showing the current state of the river and the work of NGOs to improve it. It promoted the awareness of the population of Kherson city and Oblast about the environmental state of the River Viryovchyna. The exhibition was well received in the city and oblast. It formed the basis for organising an "Environmental Month" in secondary and grammar schools and other educational institutions in the city.

In May 2004, KC members met with teachers from Stepanivka Secondary School: together they decided to establish the "Club of River Lovers" in the school, to conduct joint environmental activities at the river and to co-ordinate events devoted to river rehabilitation.


Public hearings were held

On 23 June 2004, public hearings about the environmental state of the River Viryovchyna were held in Stepanivka village, which is part of Suvorivsky Rayon, Kherson city. Representatives of the local authorities, NGOs and the mass media, teachers from Stepanivka School #17 and residents of Stepanivka were present at the hearings. The participants were informed about the results of work carried out within the framework of the "Protect Our Rivers" project and prospects for solving the environmental problems of the River Viryovchyna in the future. The following decisions were made:

1. To send requests to Kherson Interregional Office of the Public Prosecutor, the State Department of the Environment and Natural Resources in Khersonska Oblast, State Construction and Communal Affairs Department, and Oblast and City Sanitation and Epidemiological Services to assess the environmental state of the river and in the future to co-ordinate the work of NGOs, local authorities, educational institutions and individual citizens when joint activities to protect the River Viryovchyna were being held.

The important result of the request sent was decision #29 (dated 27 August 2004) of the Regular Commission on Environmental Issues and Environmental Protection of Khersonska Oblast Council to establish a Co-ordination Council, involving specialists from field departments and people's delegates of oblast, city and district councils, as well as the general public, in the development of an integrated programme to rehabilitate the water-protection zone of the River Viryovchyna.

2. To establish the "Club of River Lovers" in Stepanivka Secondary School #17 (the participants were in complete agreement with the words of the School Director about the importance of children's environmental awareness and holistic understanding of the environment).

3. To start work to develop a partner NGO project to establish Nature Protection Fund sites of local importance - the "Viryovchyna Gully" protected area (with the approval of the State Department of the Environment and Natural Resources in Khersonska Oblast) and the "Ostrivets' natural landscape monument).

Public hearings became the first step in the process of involving the wider population in solving the environmental problems of the river. Because of this, the public should have become aware that its everyday life, activities and health depend on the state of a small river.


© 2005 Ukrainian Rivers Network
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