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Watershed management exchange with Ukraine

UKRAINE — The International Programs office and the Ukrainian non-governmental organization FORZA recently closed out a week of technical cooperation on watershed management in Ukraine. Dr. Theodore Geier, regional hydrologist for Region 9, participated in a workshop, visited several watersheds and spoke with forestry officials about their challenges in managing their watersheds. 

During the workshop, U.S. and Ukrainian experts presented current methods for managing watersheds in both countries. Geier presented the U.S. model for assessing the condition of watersheds and ways in which the Forest Service uses the information to make forest management decisions that ensure the sustainability of water resources. FORZA presented its efforts to assess the hydrological function of water in forests in western Ukraine and the growing flood risk caused by unsustainable harvesting methods. Participants closed out the event by discussing ways to develop and promote a Ukrainian watershed management framework and ways to elevate the issues of watersheds as an important forest resource.

FORZA works in Ukraine to promote more sustainable forest management practices among state practitioners while bringing the community into discussions to help find common solutions for sustainable forest use. The organization’s goal is to improve the understanding of the role forests play in the availability and quality of water, and the effects forest management has on natural disasters such as flooding and fire. "Water is important not only for drinking but for the health of the ecosystems which sustain life," said FORZA Director Lesya Loyko. "People may see the effects of watershed management or mismanagement without understanding their origins."   

The Forest Service and FORZA partnership will continue over the next year with additional information exchange, training and facilitated dialogue to propose action to improve watershed practices in Ukraine.

Forest Service hydrologist Ted Geier with Lesya Loyko, Director of the Ukrainian NGO FORZA, in one of the watersheds of Zakarpattya in Western Ukraine. Photo courtesy of FORZA.