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Project Spotlight: Olya Melen and Holosiivskyi National Nature Park

July 10, 2019

Since 2015, the Goldman Environmental Prize has provided continued support to Prize winners through our Grantmaking program. Each year, we award grants to past Prize winners for capacity building programs and grassroots environmental campaigns.

In 2006, Ukrainian lawyer Olya Melen received the Goldman Environmental Prize for her critical role in halting the construction of a deep-sea shipping channel in the Danube Delta. Working as a member of the legal advocacy organization Environment People Law (EPL), Melen—in her first-ever court case—protected one of the most important wetland ecosystems in the world. Today, Melen continues her environmental activism as the head of the legal department at EPL. For more than 20 years, EPL has worked to protect the environment and raise environmental awareness among Ukrainians.

EPL staff conducting a media tour as part of the campaign

Recently, in response to threats from the logging industry, EPL led a campaign in 2017—with grant support from the Goldman Environmental Prize—to increase protections for and awareness of Holosiivskyi National Nature Park. The park, located near Kiev—Ukraine’s capital and largest city, serves as a valuable scientific and recreational resource for the surrounding population of nearly three million people.

EPL’s Holosiivskyi campaign involved legal action to protect threatened park areas, the development of tools to improve park management, and a social media campaign to generate community interest in the park’s future. The multi-faceted approach was successful in unifying diverse groups of stakeholders around one message: protect Holosiivskyi. EPL also increased engagement with residents of Kiev through publicity about the city’s public spaces, distribution of print materials presenting park data, and an interactive online map highlighting areas of vulnerability within the park. Simultaneously, EPL, activist groups, and Ukraine’s ministry of the environment filed a lawsuit that successfully stopped the logging of forests and removal of fertile top soils in a highly vulnerable two-hectare area known as the Bychok tract. The wide-reaching campaign achieved success inside the courtroom, on social media, and throughout Kiev.

EPL campaign signage posted in Kiev to raise awareness of the park

With the public now invested in its legal status and improved park management resources, Holosiivskyi National Nature Park is better protected against future threats.

Visit EPL’s website to learn more about the project.

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