As part of our Nature newsletter, Vlad explores the impact the war has had on Ukrainians' relationship to their land...
Two days ago a Ukrainian tractor driver was killed after his vehicle hit an anti-tank mine in a field near Kharkiv. After the Russian invasion, Ukrainian tractors became a globally-recognised meme for towing away abandoned Russian tanks and other armoured cars. But everyday life is less light-hearted, as agricultural activities in Ukraine nowadays constitute feats of courage rather than mundane work.
Ukrainian fields are laced with mines as a result of continuous Russian artillery shelling in many parts of the country. Reportedly, this may decrease the area of sewable soils in Ukraine by as much as 39% and some 34% of Ukraine’s overall land territory is now considered unavailable or perilous for agriculture. But, despite the danger of being blown up on mines or directly shelled by missiles in fields, Ukrainian farmers persist with deadly incidents unfortunately becoming a regular occurrence.
Yet it is not just farmers but the whole of our natural landscape that is being made treacherous. Deaths due to mine explosions happen on beaches and in Ukraine’s forests as well. The State Emergency Service of Ukraine reported successfully demining over 62,000 acres of land with over 45,000 explosive materials destroyed. However, according to the organisation’s estimates, it will take over 10 years to demine the whole of Ukraine, leaving some of the most beautiful parts of Ukraine out of my reach for years to come.