Appeal of Belarusian journalists to Mr. Neil Bune, Head of UN Representative Office in Belarus proposing to arrange a joint press-tour to the Belovezhskaya Pushcha

Minsk, January 04, 2003

Dear Mr. Bune,

We are addressing this letter to you, assuming our civil and professional obligation - to know the truth in order to write the truth about the destiny of an object of World Human Heritage - the Biosphere Reserve "Belovezhskaya Pushcha". The Belovezha Forest, which unique value is widely recognized, is under hard exploitation. Commercial cuttings have been increasing from year to year and are now approaching a dangerous dimension. This clearly demonstrates that the current tendencies as regards the management of the forests are rather of the vandal, than of the protective nature.

During the last two years Belarusian press, mainly non-governmental, has been raising this issue several times, expressing its concern about the situation in Belovezha and trying to relieve the industrial pressure on Belovezhskaya Pushcha which is the oldest natural forest in Europe. There have been more than one hundred publications appealing to change the vandal attitude towards the forest. However, the direction of the National Park as well as authorities responsible for its actions are ignoring the public opinion, responding to the critique with an increasing exploitation of the reserved areas as well as implementing management forms that are in contrary with several UN conventions.

The current situation in the Pushcha is jeopardizing not only national interests but also the whole community, our common aspirations to perpetuate unique values of nature.

We, the journalists signed below, are proposing to organize a 3-days press-tour together with the UN Representative Office to the Belovezhskaya Pushcha that we believe experienced scientists dealing with problems of this oldest European forest should also join, as well as representatives of the public, whose voice has been not heard by the Belarusian authorities. We are asking you, the Head of UN Representative Office in Belarus, to join this initiative first of all as its rightful leader in order to involve Your competence in order to contribute to it.

With the assistance of your highly respectable and most influential organization we would like to learn the real situation in the Pushcha as well as to raise attention of the international public to our proposals and publications.

Nickolai Alexandrov ("Brestski kurier" Newspaper)
Tatiana Antonova ("Trud" Newspaper)
Anna Artyushkevich ("Narodnaya Volya" Newspaper)
Marat Gorevoi (BelaPAN news agency)
Vladimir Dovzhenko ("Narodnaya Volya" Newspaper)
Valery Dranchuk ("Belovezhskaya Pushcha" Newspaper)
Marina Zagorskaya ("Belaruskaya Delovaya Gazeta" Newspaper)
Oleg Karpovich ("Svobodnye Novosti Plus" Newspaper)
Anatoly Kozlovich ("Narodnaya Volya" Newspaper)
Valentina Kozlovich (BelaPAN news agency)
Anna Sous' ("Radio Svoboda")
Aleksandr Xalimon ("Komsomolskaya Pravda" Newspaper)
Veronika Cherkasova ("Belaruskaya Gazeta" Newspaper)