Flora and Fauna of UkraineGeographical location of Ukraine, especial geological development, relief, climate, a great number of rivers stipulated a numerous varieties of plant and wild life.
The plant life of Ukraine numbers close to 30,000 species, over four hundred of which are registered on the endangered-species list. Natural vegetation covers over 19 million hectares or close to one third of the country’s territory.
Most of the endemic, rare or declining species are located in the Crimean and Carpathian mountains. Almost half of the endemic and 30 percent of the rare and declining plants are concentrated there.
Affected by the human commercial activity, the plant life of Ukraine has undergone considerable change: during the 16th to 19 centuries forest in the forest-steppe zone has been reduced more than five times, while the area with the most valuable oak and beech shrunk by quarter in the 19th century alone. Great damage had been inflicted to forests after the WWII during the reconstruction of the national economy.
As of today, fourteen percent of the Ukrainian territory is covered by forests, which composition of wood species is changing being influenced by the commercial activity. Plantations of fine wood are being expanded while that of the less valuable forest trees (hornbeam and aspen) reduced. Approximately half of the wood stock of Ukraine is conifers: pine, spruce and silver fir.
The forests of Ukraine are rich in berries, mushrooms, fruits of wild growing plants and medicinal plants, which 250 species are used in Ukraine for medical purposes including 150 in medical science. Regions most abundant with medicinal plants are Polissia (marshy woodlands), forest-steppe zone, and Carpathians.
The portrayal of plants is an important element of Ukrainian folk symbolism. In the national tradition symbolic meaning and representation attributed to trees and plants is very similar to that of the all European. Thus, an oak personifies power and endurance, a pine incarnates vital energy and prolificacy, a willow is believed to be a “fore tree” of life and is associated with the alchemy of spring. The guelder rose incarnating sun, fire, perpetuity of life, maiden beauty and eternal love is the traditional symbol of Ukraine.
The wildlife of Ukraine is distinguished by a large variety of species with almost 45 thousand kinds of animals. There are many unique natural localities in Ukraine where one can encounter rare surviving animals.
Elk, roe deer, wild boar, red deer, squirrel are inhabitants of forest zone; foxes and wolves are numerous, one may meet brown bears and lynx there. Of the avifauna, there is a large number of black cock, hazel grouse, wood grouse, starling, blue titmouse, cranes. The steppe zone is inhabited with ground squirrel, hamster, jerboa, field mouse, and marmot; of birds, there are skylark, quail, pink starling, steppe eagle, and others.
Some fur animals (nutria, mink, silvery-black fox, muskrat) were brought in from afar, and they acclimatized themselves well to the environment.
Wildlife of the coast region of the Back Sea and the Sea of Azov is highly varied; birds are especially numerous: martins, pochards, wild ducks, herons, bittern, pelicans, sea gulls, cormorants, etc. In the above seas, there is sturgeon, mackerel, bullhead, and so on. Rivers, lakes and manmade reservoirs are inhabited with perch, bream, zander, pike, crucian carp, sazan; and trout - in the Carpathians rivers.
The South Coast of Crimea and the mountaineous region of peninsula with climatic conditions similar to the Mediterranean, harbor such creatures as Crimean and rock lizards, leopard snake, southern nightingale, black vulture, red deer, and mouflon.
Hoofed, fir and bird-game are also widespread on the territory of Ukraine. In the game-preserves that may be found in practically all the regions of Ukraine, hunting is arranged for elk, wild boar, hare, fox, wild duck and goose, etc.
Eleven national nature parks, 4 biosphere preserves, 16 nature reserves, numerous dendrological parks are organized in Ukraine; there are also monument sites of landscape architecture there. Among them the most famous are Askania-Nova (late 19th century, Kherson oblast, Shatsky national nature park (Volyn oblast), dendrological parks: Spfiyivka (Cherkassy oblast), Oleksandria (Kyiv oblast), and Trostianetsky (Chernihiv oblast), as well as natural monuments: Dovbush Rocks in Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv oblasts, Tomb of Stone in Donetsk and Zaporizhia oblasts, the Great Canyon in Crimea.