“I can say that it [the environmental situation in Crimea] is catastrophic. Our satellite-based picture show that to date, 70% of vegetation in the Steppe area of Crimea has either totally disappeared or is in a worse condition than in 2013. We compare the previous and latest pictures, and see that Crimea is returning to its original state before Ukraine started developing this area, i.e. to the state of the 1950s,” Yuriy Hrymchak, the Deputy Minister of Ukraine for Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons, said in an interview with Crimea Inform.
As noted, this concerns not the lands under crops only. “Disappearing, or being on the verge of disappearing, are woodland belts, orchards, vineyards – i.e. those plants that require a long period of time to be restored. However, rapid deterioration of the quality of soils is the major problem. The mineralization of the layers of fertile soil is progressing at great speed,” the deputy minister said.
According to Hrymchak, “it is impossible to assess the total loss, as this requires a careful and comprehensive examination of the situation. Neither Ukrainian, nor international experts have this opportunity today. We can provide an estimate of the time and level of effort required, for instance, to restore the fertility of lands. It took nearly 10 years to wash the salts out of soils after the North Crimean channel was put into operation. I reckon that now a similar timeframe will be required to restore the fertility of Crimean lands.”