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Belovezhskaya Pushcha

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    Belovezhskaya Pushcha

    In ancient times the territory of northern and eastern Europe was covered by forest. Throughout the history the forest was cut and destroyed. Over the last few centuries the forest used to be a hunting place for Russian, Polish and Lithuanian kings. During the wars and other human activities the forest was devastated and a lot of animals were killed. Belovezhskaya pushcha is a remaining part of that forest, which has been preserved till now and is considered a natural treasure of Europe. In 1992 it was announced a World Heritage site by UNESCO [1].

    Belovezhskaya Pushcha is divided into two parts, Belarusian and Polish. The total area of the forest is over 2 thousand km2, with 1530 km2 located in Belarus. However, the strictly protected zone is only around 103 km2 with 50 km2 in Belarus. On the Belarusian side the protected zone is officially called The National Park Belovezhskaya Pushcha [2].

    The forest is a lowland plain located between the Baltic and Black Seas. It contains peat bogs, as well as river and stream valleys. It is drained by 2 rivers, crossing the forest area in the north and the south. The average temperature in January is -5°C, and in June +18°C [3].

    Belovezhskaya Pushcha is the last largest mixed foliage and pine forest in lowland Europe. It consists 90% of trees, the rest of the area is occupied by meadows, agricultural land, water, and bogs. It is claimed that in Belovezhskaya Pushcha has around 1000 trees that are 300-600 years old, as well as 38 nationally threatened plant species [4].

    The fauna of Belovezhskaya Pushcha is represented by 68 mammal, 250 bird, 13 amphibian, 7 reptile, 26 fish species, and around 8,500 insect species. Many of them are listed in the Red Book of Belarus. The most well-known representative of the fauna is the European Bison. There are approximately 315 species on the Belarusian side at the moment. Other animals living in the forests are wolf Canis lupus, lynx Felis lynx, otter Lutra lutra and European beaver Castor fiber. There are large populations of red deer, roe deer, and wild boar. There are also around 300 elks Alces alces. The birds living in the forest are black and white stork, golden eagle, greater spotted eagle, white-tailed eagle, great snipe, corncrake, eagle owl, great grey owl, Eurasian curlew, and 9 species of woodpecker [5].

    The National Park receives over 80 thousand visitors per year. The tourist facilities are quite developed and are offered at affordable prices. There are the Nature Museum, the Father Frost House (Eastern European Santa Claus), hotels, restaurants and cafes. Various excursions are offered throughout the year, including walking and cycling tours in summer [6].

     It’s worth mentioning the attractive prices. The accommodation prices range from 10 to 100 Euros per person per night; renting a bicycle or roller blades costs about 1 Euro per hour; a 4-hour cycling tour costs around 1 Euro as well, and the service of a tour guide is just half a euro per hour [7]. Therefore, Belarus offers a unique chance of enjoying the pristine nature at a very low cost.

    Managerial Challenges:

    The National Park Belovezhskaya Pushcha is managed by the General Director, 4 Deputy Directors for science & research, tourism, economy and trade, the General Forest Warden, and the Chief Bookkeeper.

    ·        Until 1991 40 tons of pesticide and over 30,000 tons of fertilizer were used annually by large state farms within or close to the buffer zone, which caused misbalance in the natural condition of the forest.  

    ·        Drainage and land reclamation projects that began in the 1960s, with construction of roads and canals in the reserve, threatened important species in the forest, such as the Norway spruce, which is highly sensitive to changes in the ground water.

    ·        Disease amongst the bison and invasion of the forest by alien plant species should be controlled and prevented.

    ·        Illegal hunting by high officials among others should be restrained.

    Large-scale government-sponsored commercial logging is the greatest danger to the forest. Under the economic pressures, inflation and lack of funds the government introduced a forest management regime, which increased commercial and agro-industrial use of the forest. This large-scale commercial logging was done without coordination with the Academic Council of the Park. The new Park management is said to have victimized and alienated the local people for their opposition to its policy [8].

     

     

    References:

    [1] http://npbp.brest.by/natpark/istoria

    [2] http://bp21.org.by/ru/about/map.html

    [3], [4], [5] http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/150478/

    [6] http://npbp.brest.by/tourism

    [7] http://npbp.brest.by/tourism/preic-list

    [8] http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/150478/

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    Comments (3)

    Viewing 3 of 3 comments: view all
    Hej Olga.
    I found your presentation very interesting this morning. To be quite honest with you, I don't know much about Belarus so it was nice to have the opportunity to learn more about your country.

    As for this article, I like the way it is written. I think it is very clear and easy to ready and to understand. It was a good idea to include this small part about the visiting opportunities at the end, it was quite a good conclusion in order to promote this site.
    I do however have a few questions about the managerial issues. About the use of pesticide, do you know if they have a way to make the site "clean" again or is it permanently damaged ? And about the drainage and land reclamation projects: you mention when they started, but not when they stopped... And has something been done in order to reduce the damages ? You also mention things that should be done. Is it your own opinion of what you think they should manage ? Do you know if they are actually working on solutions on these issues ?
    Anyways, it was a very interesting article, and pleasing to read.
    Posted 18:51, 12 Nov 2013
    Hi! Thanks for your feedback! Well, the pesticides were primarily used untill 1991, but they were in such large quantities that it made a negative effect on both the plants and the animals. The pesticides used back at that time are still in the soil. However, Belarus is now working on cleaning its soil from pesticisides and even managed to attract support from the EU in this matter (http://vb.by/print.php?article=20249 - in Russian though). I think the management of the park are woring on solutions, but the country doesn't have a clear understanding of sustainability yet. Still, we are developping in this area as well.
    Posted 21:47, 12 Nov 2013
    First of all, I really liked your presentation about the site. It was really clear structured and gave all necessary information about the site. In both, the presentation and the article, you clarified why the site is worth to be protected (i.e. the fact that there are 1000 trees that are 300-600 years old). In respect the the article, I can say that it covers all important aspects and is easy to read. In contrast the your other article, you really focus on the managerial issues. edited 18:19, 13 Nov 2013
    Posted 18:19, 13 Nov 2013
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