October 06, 2005
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection of the Republic of Belarus has considered the letter of the editor team of the newspaper "World of Animals" devoted to the situation in the forests of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" and informs the following.
Character and scale of works to overcome consequences of natural disasters in the woods of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, especially in the spruce forests suffered from trunk vermin - bark beetles, and from wind storms, gets into the most serious trouble of the public.
The issues on the situation in forests of the above mentioned National Park was repeatedly discussed in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection, and in the Property Management Department of the President of the Republic of Belarus, with participation of the leading forest scientists and ecologists. The difficult situation has arisen due to mass outbreak of bark beetles in the spruce forests of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, since 2001 up to the present time (in 2005 an extinction stage is in the progress).
As a result of discussions and outdoor inspections to visit areas in the appropriate zones of the Park where forest management and nature protection measures are conducted, the scientists and managers proposed recommendations to carry out sanitary, forest management and nature protection measures. Sometimes different points of view were expressed, but the finally agreed measures comprised mass harvesting (cleaning) dead-staying and wind-fallen trees to decrease fire danger, cutting down trees recently populated by bark beetles and removal them out of the felling sites to discontinue distribution of the outbreak centers. In cases when difficulties appear in getting the natural forest regeneration, it was recommended to artificially plant the local origin's tree species and to form forest stands close to the natural structure, as well as to continue the fencing felling plots to promote natural regeneration.
The Ministry, despite of available disagreements concerning consequences of realization of so big-scale measures to overcome natural disasters in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, uses the specified scientific conclusions and recommendations to provide the control.
The Management of the State Nature Protection Institution "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" also follows the given recommendations and finds means to develop a set of measures on improvement of the ecological situation in the Pushcha's forests, through the international funds and organizations.
The representatives of UNESCO and International Union of Conservation of Nature (UNESCO/IUCN) have expressed ideas concerning the international obligations on preservation of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Their mission to check the conditions within the territory designed as a World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site, both the Belarusian and Polish parties, was held on March 15-19, 2004.
The final conclusion, the above specified representatives has made, was "the integrity and values of the World Heritage Site in both countries are not directly threatened with danger owing to fellings or any other actions which are carried out within the borders of the World Heritage Site".
Nevertheless, the tourists have got adverse image of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" resulted from the fight against trunk vermin carried out within the large areas with dead and dying wood, and from extraction of excessive volume of dead wood.
It is obvious that either applied now measures on the revival of the lost forest sites will not immediately bring the result and we should observe the consequences of natural disasters in Belovezhskaya Pushcha for still a long time.
Concerning burning wood residuals, the Ministry follows the opinion to restrict this action as maximum as possible and subsequently to stop it. However in connection with large-scale works on overcoming consequences of forest vermin attacks and wind storms, the workers of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" should resort to this measure, which in itself does not contradict the current legislation .
Reconstruction of a water reservoir located in the Regulated Recreational Use zone and partially in the Regulated Nature zone is also conducted In the National Park. The hydrological influence of these works to the natural complex of Belovezhskaya Pushcha is recognized minimal, taking into account the artificial origin of the reservoir existed within its borders before the reconstruction started. All these works are coordinated in accordance with established procedure and have been under examination.
As to the road asphalting in the National Park, we can state that this measure does not bring serious threat to biological diversity. Asphalt is used to cover the already existed lines. The Belovezhskaya Pushcha road network was developed for a long time ago and is its integral part in the zones where the tourism is allowed. Road traffic is low-intensive and does not interfere with free migrations of wild animals while the pollution shows the minimum. The distribution of weed or ruderal vegetation along the roads in Pushcha should be not considered the real threat to biodiversity either, as the natural grass-living cover is quickly restored along the roads due to their narrow sides.
It is necessary to state that there are some defects of the ecological educational work in the National Park. An exposition of the Museum of Nature of Belovezhskaya Pushcha should be reconstructed and renewed to a certain extent. The quality of keeping predatory animals in enclosures needs to be paying more attention. The Ministry plans to render financial assistance to the State Nature Protection Institution "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" to carry out measures on improvement of the above mentioned lacks.
The Ministry thanks the editor team of the newspaper for its work on propagation of ecological knowledge and, in one's practical work, will take into account opinions of the public interested in the situation of both Belovezhskaya Pushcha and other natural areas of our country.
Deputy Minister V.A. Malishevskiy
Executed by Goldenkov
(Published in the website of the newspaper "World of Animals", October 2005)
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