Nature in Chernobyl
The ecosystem is the first thing to suffer from any event happening in the world. If there is a fire, animals and plants become the first victims; when a tsunami or an earthquake occurs, the nature of the affected region is devastated. When a human-induced disaster takes place, the animals, plants, and all parts of the ecosystem suffer even more than humans.
One of the best examples we can provide you with is the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl effects on wildlife of the region. In this article, we will tell you some interesting facts about Chernobyl nature you will definitely find interesting if you are curious about this nuclear disaster.
Chernobyl Nature Ecosystem
The whole ecosystem of the exclusion zone suffered from the explosion and the radiation released. The Red Forest, one of the main spots to see in the zone today, has absorbed the radiation which turned the leaves of the trees red in April. Thousands of fauna species were killed by people to stop the radiation from spreading.
However, the wildlife in Chernobyl is starting to recover. The tourists notice rare flora species, and the scientists spot endangered fauna species thriving in the exclusion zone.
Chernobyl Nature Today
Botanic scientists confirm: the vegetation of the Chernobyl exclusion zone is thriving: all plants have survived the radiation, and are now taking the territory to themselves. It is easy to do without human influence: even people doing research do not come close to the greenery because of their fear of radiation.
Why Is Nature Recovery in Chernobyl Possible?
The answer is in the way radiation affects the cells of plants. Radiation affects the DNA cells, which are easily damaged, so when something affects them, they just die or mutate (it is what happened to the Red forest). The failure of just one part of DNA cells has a deadly influence on fauna and human organisms, but flora is the exception.
Vegetation is very flexible on the cell level. They cannot move, and they often suffer from the loss of the body parts, so their DNA can alter all the time they are alive. It is exactly what happened when radioactive emission hit: plants just recovered.
Vegetation Population Goes Up
Of course, it took nature a couple of years to recover and adapt to new ecosystem conditions, but then, left without any human interference, the wild plants started to win the area back. There is no cultivated vegetation due to its maladjustment to life without human interaction.
Imagine a forest never touched by people: it is how the exclusion area looks like now. Wild plants grow everywhere, and there is no one to take them down and build a house on their place.
What Plants Grow?
Typical vegetation for north Ukrainian regions grows there now: birches, alders, aspens, maples, poplars, and various bushes. At the first glimpse, they look completely normal, but botanic scientists notice the deformation in needles and branches formation. It doesn’t influence the life of plants, but it’s the manifestation of radioactive influence.
Chernobyl Recovery of Animals
The plants can recover in a couple of years, but what about fauna? They, just like humans, don’t have this flexible DNA system, so once it is damaged, it cannot be saved. It is the way how mutants are created: if radiation doesn’t kill, it damages.
Nevertheless, the fact is obvious: wild nature is thriving in the exclusion zone. The reasons for this are not clear, but the investigators are trying very hard to find the explanation.
Why Did Animals Survive?
Scientists are not yet able to answer this question precisely. The most common theory is the return of wildlife from the surrounding areas to the exclusion zone. Since there are no people, the animals settled and bred.
Another version is a genetic mutation that did not kill the fauna but made its genes more resistant to radiation. Some scientists combine these two theories and say that the animals came to this area after the explosion, and eating adapted plants also affected their perception of radiation.
How Do the Animals Look?
We often imagine that nature in the exclusion zone is different from what we are used to: for example, dogs have five legs; but the reality is different. All animals ever spotted by tourists and scientists look perfectly normal.
However, scientists note that there are some changes in plumage and hair of the animals and birds: white color prevails in the new generation of wild nature.
Are There Any Insects?
The curious fact is that insects have not been seen in the Chernobyl zone. Nature scientists indicate that the bugs, ants, and spiders populations have disappeared from the exclusion zone.
The same phenomenon has been spotted in 2011 after the Fukushima nuclear accident.
There is a reliable theory for this event: investigators believe that ants and other small insects living in the soil couldn’t survive the radiation soaked up by the ground. Bugs and flies depend on ants, so they died without their food, and the chain reaction was started: from ants and bugs to spiders and butterflies.
What Animals Live There?
Some species that are endangered in Ukraine seem to thrive in the exclusion zone. The most important species are brown bears, lynx, wolves, deer, beavers, foxes, and wild boars. Some rare fauna examples are also here: bison, moose, badgers, and raccoon dogs.
Not so long ago, Przewalski’s horses were spotted in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, which gives high hopes that nature there may recover, and the closed area can be the most important natural reserve in Europe.
As you can see, nature in Chernobyl is actually thriving. Some people use it as an example of humanity’s disastrous influence on the planet and its habitats. It is true that humans kill more wildlife than natural disasters, but we shouldn’t criticize the past: we need to learn our lessons and change the patterns of our lives.