Baron Eduard von Falz-Fein, 86, a descendant of a family once famous in Ascania Nova.
Ascania Nova is a National Preserve, the biggest in Eastern Europe. It is a piece of land of enchanting beauty through which animals, many of who are entered in the Red Book of Endangered Species and are under protection of the state, roam freely.The forests of Ascania Nova resound with warbling of birds, lakes and ponds teem with fish. Ascania Nova has a tremendous tourist and recreation potential.
The Ascania Nova National Preserve is spread over an area of about 34,000 hectares (85,000 acres). About one third of this area is occupied by the virgin steppe. 200 hectares are given to what is called «a Dendrological Park» (dendrology is study of trees) and a local zoo occupies an area of 62 hectares (150 acres). In addition to being a Preserve, Ascania Nova is a research centre where new ways of farming are tested. Administratively, the Preserve functions within the framework of the Ukrainian Academy of Agrarian Sciences.
Both flora and fauna are studied and protected at Ascania Nova. There are hundreds of species of plants to be found in Ascania Nova, 85 of which are considered to be rare and 12 are entered in the Red Book of Endangered Species. In spring the vast plains of the Preserve are covered with blooming yellow «Scythian tulips.» This variety of the tulip is an extremely rare one and the meadows, brightened up by this yellow flower almost to a shining point, are an unforgettable sight.There are 20 species of autochthonous mammals living in Ascania Nova with many more that have come from other areas or «visit» the Preserve. Wondering through Ascania, one can see hunting foxes, easily-frightened hares, graceful grazing deer, ground squirrels enjoying the warm sun. The animals seem to know that they are protected and that no harm or menace should be expected from man. There are several species of snakes and over 2,000 species of invertebrates.Over twenty species make their nests in the steppe of Ascania Nova and the total number of species of migratory birds that stay for some time in the Preserve and those that live in the wooded areas is about three hundred. 19 species of animals are entered in the Red Book of Ukraine.
The Dendrological Park is made up of two parts: an old section with trees over a hundred years old, and a new one with trees which are under thirty years of age. Altogether there are 939 species of plants which are under protection. They come from different places and continents. About 90 species are what isusually called «rare» and need to be particularly well to be taken care of. 3 species are entered in the book of species that require international protection.There are roads and paths that cut through the Park and the Preserve. Guided tours are conducted for tourists visiting Ascania Nova and these excursions take the visitors to the most interesting parts of the Preserve.
There are several artificial hillocks strategically located in the Park to provide a better view of the surrounding area. The rich collection of plants need a lot of care without which their existence would have been impossible. In fact there are very few species of plants that are indigenousto the area.The Ascania Nova Zoo is in many respects unique and is considered to be among the world's ten best zoos of this kind. The Ascania Nova Zoo specialises in keeping and studying ungulates of the steppe, savannah, desert and mountainous areas. The Zoo has many species of birds, some of them flightless: ostriches, rhea, emu, swans, cranes, pheasants to name just a few. Some of the mammals that are kept in the Zoo are of very rare varieties.
History of the Preserve
In the early 19th century there appeared a small village in the territory of what is now the Ascania Nova Preserve. Before that time it had been just the steppe inhabited not by people but by wild animals, and covered with tall grasses swaying in the wind. The village was alternately called New Keten, Chapli and Ascania Nova. In fact the lands around it had been bought for a settlement of ethnic Germans, whose several generations had been living in various places of the Russian Empire for quite some time. Freidrich F. Falz-Fein, 1863–1920, was born and raised in Ascania Nova. Even in his young years he had an ambition to turn the area into a «paradise on Earth,» a natural preserve that would be world-famous. He was a very determined man and managed to make his dream come true though he had had to overcome many obstacles. He brought to the Preserve that he had founded animals and plants from many parts of the country and of the world. All in all he brought to Ascania Nova and naturalised there many species of plants, 52 species of mammals and 208 species of birds. He wanted to have a park around his estate to provide shade and cool freshness during the hot summer months in the flat steppe over which hot dry winds blew. The park eventually grew into a small forest. At the very end of the 19th century Freidrich Falz-Fein founded and opened a museum which exhibited stuffed animals of the local and world's fauna, a collection of birds' eggs, archaeological finds made in the area of Ascania Nova.
Then came the times of the First World War, Revolution, Civil War, Soviet «nationalisation» and «collectivisation,» famines, purges, Second World War, political «thaw,» economic stagnation, «perestroika,» regaining of Independence by Ukraine. Ascania Nova has survived despite all this turmoil.
  New Ideas
Ukraine is independent, it is true, but the number of problems it is facing does not seem to diminish with the passage of time. The maintenance of a natural preserve of the size of Ascania Nova is a very costly thing. It is almost a miracle the Preserve has been preserved at all (the pun is unintentional) and it will take a lot of money and effort to keep it at least in its present state. To do it successfully is possible by turning Ascania Nova into a free economic zone which will bring investments both from Ukrainian and foreign investors. A concept of turning Ascania Nova into a free economic zone has been already worked out and is ready to be put into practice. Ascania Nova will surely benefit because it will make it possible to:
  • stimulate economic development of the town of Ascania Nova, of the farms situated in the territory of the Preserve thanks to Ukrainian and foreign investments;
  • preserve and maintain the unique natural conditions of the Preserve;
  • create a tourist and recreation infrastructure and enter the world's tourist market;
  • create new jobs.
    Ascania Nova is ready to welcome investments and tourists!
 

Reported by Victor Havrylenko,
Director of Ascania Nova Preserve
13, Frunze St., Ascania Nova,
Chaplinsky Raion, Khersonska Oblast, 326332, Ukraine.
Tel./fax: 380 (5538) 61-232