193About us
About us

We are the Frankfurt Zoological Society’s (FZS) Ukraine team. Founded in 1858, FZS is an international conservation organization that supports projects in Africa, South America, Southeast Asia, and Europe. Our mission is to conserve wildlife and ecosystems, focusing on protected areas and outstanding wild places. We work in close coordination with partners such as local communities, conservation specialists, national park authorities, and other non-governmental organizations.

Ukraine is FZS’s largest country program in Europe and we focus on preserving primeval forests and wetlands of global importance. Our activities are concentrated in some of central Europe’s most important and largest natural landscapes: the primary forests of the Carpathian Mountains and the natural river floodplains of Polesia.


Our team

Why do what we do

Our mission is to support the conservation of the most important wilderness areas around the world: Some of the most extensive and best-preserved natural landscapes in Europe can be found in Ukraine. These include the Carpathian Mountains in the west of the country, which are home to large tracts of old-growth and primeval forests, and Polesia’s floodplains in the north, which are covered with a mosaic of large mires, oxbow lakes, and forests, and form part of Europe’s largest wetland wilderness area.

These incredible landscapes are an irreplaceable part of Europe’s heritage: They are mostly still intact and undisturbed by human influence and are home to rare species of animals and plants that can no longer be found in much of the rest of Europe. Primeval beech forests in the Carpathians, for example, are designated as UNESCO World Heritage, putting the region up there with other internationally protected areas such as the Serengeti National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Similarly, Polesia is widely known as Europe’s Amazon, an immense transboundary wetland wilderness that is a major hub for migrating birds in spring, when hundreds of thousands pass through the landscape to breed, rest, and feed.

Since 2022, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine means that our obligation to support protected areas has become even more crucial. It has been an immensely challenging time, where state financial support has been severely restricted and teams have shifted focus where necessary to host and support thousands of internally displaced people. Learn more about the support we provided to parks since the full-scale war began, and how FZS continues to contribute to their operational costs here.

Where do we operate

Natural value is the main benchmark used by the Frankfurt Zoological Society to decide on its focal areas in Ukraine. However, we also consider the urgent need to preserve unique ecosystems that are at risk of destruction.

Russian aggression against Ukraine has had a significant impact on the country’s economy and increased the need for cheap energy sources – therefore the preservation of the Carpathian forest particular large areas of primeval forests of global importance – have become one of our key priorities.

The Polesia wetland wilderness area is also a natural choice, because of its remarkable natural value and the immediate risk of its destruction from the planned construction of the E40 waterway.

Below, we provide a short description of our two main focal areas.

Spanning some 95,000 hectares, the Ukrainian Carpathians are the stronghold of one of the largest areas of primeval and old-growth forests in Europe. Around 10,000 hectares of this stunning region is home to the largest contiguous European beech primeval forest in the world. This unique part of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve has the utmost natural value, recognized globally with the forest included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage as part of the transnational Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe.
The mountainous landscapes of the Ukrainian Carpathians host natural ecosystems that are inhabited by incredible wildlife. These pristine forests contain up to 20 times more dead wood than managed forests, which makes them an important habitat for a variety of organisms including fungi, mosses, insects, bats, and birds. The greater diversity and complexity of ecosystem structure created by dead trees favor some rare bird species, such as grouse, and large mammals such as brown bears, wolves, and Eurasian lynx.
Frankfurt Zoological Society strives to protect natural landscapes in the Ukrainian Carpathians, as one of the largest and most valuable networks of protected areas in Europe. Key aims include securing the enlargement of existing protected areas and the addition of important primeval and old-growth forests . Enhanced protection needs well-equipped and functioning protected areas.

Polesia is Europe’s Amazon. It’s the greatest intact floodplain on the continent. Located in the northwest of the country, and stretching across the borders of Poland, Russia and Belarus, Polesia contains vast coastal forests, immense and untouched swamps, and extensive wetlands. The region is a major hub for migratory birds in the spring, when hundreds of thousands of birds stop here for rest, feeding and nesting.

Frankfurt Zoological Society is a partner organization of Save Polesia, an international project that was initiated to stop the construction of the E40 waterway and contribute to the development of nature-based tourism in Polesia. To find out more about the project please visit Save Polesia website.

How we work

By combining international experience with local knowledge and expertise, we support the preservation of the large areas of pristine and near-pristine nature in Ukraine. We mainly do this by supporting projects in major protected areas such as national parks, biosphere reserves, and large nature reserves. Ensuring the long-term preservation of these unique natural habitats requires a comprehensive approach that covers several key areas:

  • Support for operational costs
  • Expansion and consolidation of protected areas
  • Improvement of protected areas communications
  • Work with local communities
  • Biodiversity monitoring
  • Tourism infrastructure and services
  • Environmental education
  • Buildings and reconstruction
  • Management planning