Public Lab Research note

Dvorichansky National Park in Ukraine, our test ground for balloon-mapping

by Alex_the_Ukrainian | March 21, 2015 20:35 21 Mar 20:35 | #11711 | #11711

Main image above: Northern part of the Dvorichansky national park – aspect from the chalk hill toward the East. The main area of the park is the flood-meadow [ref_1], with number of oxbow lakes.


The Dvorichansky National park has been set up recently, year 2009, after the decades of efforts by Kharkiv University scientists and local environmental activists.

The general Park’ area constitutes about 3,000 hectares, which approximately equals 7400 acres [ref_2], and the area of forbidden agro-activities constitutes 548 hectares (1354 acres). The Park’s extends along the Oskol river for approximately 24 km (14.9 miles), about half-a-mile each side from the river.

The main geophysical feature of the Park is the system of chalk hills [ref_3] along the eastern (right) bank of Oskol river, and the main protected area represents the natural chalk meadow [ref_1].

By the year 2014’ assessment, the Dvorichansky park hosts 933 species of plants and fungi, 704 species of animals, and 151 species of birds. Below are some pictures.


Fig. 1 The dandelions will show their yellow flowers in May, it would be a good marking of the ground viability. We hope to air-photograph this.


Fig. 1a As we visit the park now, by March 29, here are snow-piercing Galanthus


Fig. 2 The representative of local fauna.


Fig. 3 Cotinus coggýgria

Fight for preservation of biodiversity.

Number of illegal human activities endangers the park' ecosystem. There are cases of illegal logging, pouching, waste dumping, unauthorized agricultural activity on the Park’ land. The practice of regular burnings is here a traditional technique of land management.

Local authorities and community activists are struggling to stop the intruders from damaging the wildlife and degrading the ecosystem. Not rarely that is a dangerous task. Modern inexpensive technologies -- such as sensors with the Internet connection -- could be of much help in this struggle.

Balloon surveillance

The materials at PublicLab had inspired us to try the balloon techniques. As we see it, the balloon (in opposite to drone) is quite an uninvasive machine, which can be safely used in a national park. One can read our report on the [egg-shaped polyethylene balloons] we use to fly the camera.Our preliminary results on the technique's safety will be reported separately. Below I place our first balloon aerials (or rather micro-aerials), of the flood-meadow biocenosis after the artificial fire (or "burning"). This pictures were shot May 1st, 2013. Camera is Canon A-490. It seems, that such a micro-mapping could be helpful and effective in the assessment of the repair processes.





Credit and acknowledgement

The text and images are by Stanislav Dyrjavy and Alexander Akimov.

The data on the Park size and its biodiversity are the quote from the relevant article in Ukrainian wikipedia.

The decades-long effort to award to the territory the status of National Park was headed by Prof. Victor Tokarsky, of Kharkiv University.

Olga Berveno, the local dedicated educator, conducts a systematic work with the kids and teenagers of the Dvorichna community to raise the environmental awareness.


A note about Ukrainian chalk steppe and its conservation was published recently in international online magazine Plant Talk that supports plant conservation worldwide.

This link leads to the English-language page with a brief overview of Ukrainian-language publications on the Life on chalk.





It's great to see Cotinus coggýgria. We had one in our yard in Maryland, but I have never seen it in its native habitat. We also have a native species, the American Smoketree (Cotinus obovatus) of the southeastern US.

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