One of the major problems the country is currently facing is the state of the land resources. As is shown by data presented by the State Committee for Statistics of Ukraine, the land resources of Ukraine amounted to 60.4 million hectares at the beginning of 1999. Agricultural land occupies 72% of the country’s territory, out of which 69% is arable land, including 54.4% of tillage, 0.4% of virgin land, 1.6% of perennial plantations, 3.8% of hayfields and 9.1% of pasturelands.
Forests and other plantations take up 17.2% of all the territory, swamps 1.6%, land without any plantation 1.8%, and territory under water reservoirs 4.0%. In 1998 certain changes took place in the structure of the land resources. Thus, in comparison with 1997, the area of the arable land decreased by 27,800 hectares, with the area of tillage being reduced by 223,400 hectares, the area of perennial plants by 37,500 hectares, and that of hayfields by 11,500 hectares.
As compared to 1997, pasturelands were expanded by 28,100 hectares in 1998, areas of forests and other plantations by 17,400 hectares, built-up territories by 105,100 hectares, and open swamplands by 3,700 hectares. The area of land without any plantation contracted by 10,400 hectares.
In accordance with the State Land Cadastre, the area of the most valuable land within the structure of the country’s arable land accounts for about 12 million hectares.
The total area of land allocated for non-agricultural utilization contracted by 10,900 hectares in 1998 as compared to 1997, the area of arable land was reduced by 100 hectares, and the tillage area by 100 hectares.
Certain territories were set aside to meet state and public needs, namely, to construct or develop industrial enterprises and transportation infrastructure, and towns and built-up areas.
A sizable area – 159,000 hectares is occupied by radioactively contaminated arable lands, which are not used for agricultural production, plus 161,400 hectares of deteriorated land.
Structure of land resources of Ukraine as of 1 January 1999
(data from State Committee for Statistics of Ukraine)
The changes in the structure and area of land resources are taking place during a process of allocation of land for forming protective forest plantations and field-protecting forest strips, construction of anti-erosion hydrotechnical structures, silt-catching basins and river-bank reinforcements to protect agricultural lands, and the recultivation of deteriorated lands. The decrease of the tillage area also took place during a process of turning heavily eroded, swamped and flooded areas into hayfields and pasturelands.
In 1998 the process of the land privatization was continued. As of 1 January 1999 the state possessed 48.8% of the total land, collective agricultural enterprises owned 46.0%, and private owners possessed 5.2% of all land.
The area of land utilized for environmental protection has increased considerably and now accounts for 2,314,500 hectares. Land used for sanitary facilities amounts to 29,300 hectares; land for recreation facilities totals 94,400 hectares; and areas of historical parks and reserves 41,700 hectares.