War is a tragic event for humanity.
The natural environment is another silent victim that is revealed when fighting ceases.
While Ukraine may have prevented more nuclear contamination from Russia’s Chernobyl power station, there are still concerns.
The danger of forest fires
“Huge areas of Ukraine are impacted,” says Bohdan Vykhor, Executive Director of WWF Ukraine. “There are regions of Ukraine where there are lots of stocks of hazardous waste. The military may destroy them, which can cause massive water pollution in large rivers. The likelihood of forest fires increases with war. Because of their intensity, forest fires can cause significant damage to not only people and air pollution but also to biodiversity.
When Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, fires erupted in the Borjomi Khagarauli national Park and large areas were destroyed.
“After all these years, I’m now even more certain that in 2008, the harm to the environment was done on purpose,” says Irakli Ghvaladze. “There were different types of damage, for example, when ships were destroyed, fuel oil spilled and polluted the sea. The largest damage was caused by fires at Borjomi and Ateni Gore. Nearly 1,000 hectares were destroyed. It is possible that the territory was ravaged by incendiary bombs which set off massive fires. It was difficult to document everything back then and the technical capabilities were limited.
According to one Georgian environmentalist many wild animals fled the Caucasus Mountains during Russia’s war in Chechnya.
“The impact on wild animals was evident in Georgia, which was where they were migrating,” says Nino Chkhobadze, Green Movement of Georgia — Friends of the Earth, Chairperson. “We watched this process, we saw with our own eyes what was happening in Georgia when Russia was waging war in Chechnya, how they were fleeing, I don’t mean only people…”
Now, another war is wreaking havoc again on the environment.