WASHINGTON, DC—Building on an initial assessment last year by Eastern Region hydrologist Ted Geier, USDA Forest Service experts Mike Owen (Monongahela National Forest), Raha Hakimdavar (Washington Office, Watershed, Fish, Wildlife, Air & Rare Plants), and Sheela Johnson (Northeastern Area State & Private Forestry) traveled to Ukraine at the end of July to assist Ukrainian partners with applying the Forest Service Watershed Condition Classification to local conditions. Natalya Voloshyna, project manager for Ukrainian non-governmental organization FORZA, Agency for Sustainable Development of the Carpathian Region of Ukraine, and her colleagues believe that WCC is applicable to countries outside the United States, including Ukraine.
During the trip, the Forest Service team detailed information about each of the WCC’s indicators of watershed health, facilitated discussion among the Ukrainian experts about the indicators from both a local perspective and a broader Ukrainian context and attempted an initial application of the indicators to the Pinya Watershed in western Ukraine.
The U.S. and Ukraine experts divided time between the meeting room and the forest, where they assessed aquatic and terrestrial indicators that comprise the WCC, conducted practical field assessments and shared remote sensing and other data sources for watershed analysis. The workshop concluded with the interdisciplinary team assessing the watershed condition indicators in a pilot watershed.
Participants offered feedback on WCC applicability and adaptability to the Ukrainian landscape. They also applied field methods such as rapid road and stream habitat assessments and incorporated lessons from the workshop into forest transportation system guidelines.
“It is rare for water and forestry agencies to engage with one another,” said one representatives from the local water agency. “This is a good model for other river basic management efforts in the country. We need to be thinking more broadly about water issues in Ukraine.”
Next steps for in the Forest Service and FORZA cooperation include filling some of the data gaps by working with universities and improving collection methodologies, completing a final assessment of the pilot watershed and communicating the results of this assessment to regional and national stakeholders.