The paper describes the key aspects of rural development in Ukraine. Attention is focused on the interpretation of a concept of “rural areas” as an object of scientific research on economy of nature management and environment protection. It substantiates the importance of Ukraine’s transition to the sustainable rural development concept. The paper also characterises the advantages and disadvantages of basic components of sustainable rural development: economic, social and ecological. The fundamental problems and factors of present-day unsatisfactory condition of rural development in Ukraine are presented. The usefulness of providing into the following research the normative and legal factors in order to improve state administrative system and management is proved. Prospective directions of Ukrainian government support for sustainable rural development are suggested. European experience of sustainable rural development and possibility of its application in Ukraine is discussed.