An answer from the Department of Affairs of the President of the Republic of Belarus to the open letter to the President of Belarus "Stop the destruction of Belovezhskaya Pushcha and turn it into a true wilderness and wildlife reserve!"

April 22, 2011, No 22/1-12

For Heorhi A. Kazulka

About the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"

Dear Heorhi Alexeevich!

The Department of Affairs of the President of the Republic of Belarus has examined your open letter to the President of the Republic of Belarus "Stop the destruction of Belovezhskaya Pushcha and turn it into a true wilderness and wildlife reserve."

Scientific debates about the fate of forests of Belovezhskaya Pushcha have been going on for decades and you, as a biologist, who worked for many years in the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha", are well known that a period of the natural disintegration of forest stands and old-growth trees is inevitable.

On a commission from the Head of State, a plan of activities has been adopted and implemented in order to ensure preservation of unique natural ecosystems of Belovezhskaya Pushcha and to improve the efficiency of actions of the State Nature Protection Establishment "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha". The rationale and concept of creation of the International Wildlife Research Centre on the basis of the scientific department of the State Nature Protection Establishment "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" has been prepared.

In accordance with the State Program of development of the system of specially protected areas for 2008 to 2014, approved by Presidential Decree No 146 of March 6, 2008, as amended by Presidential Decree No 238 of May 6, 2010, the Draft Regulation on the State Nature Protection Establishment "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" has been made. It provides a new functional zoning of the area of the National Park. According to it, it is expected that the size of the Wilderness Protection Zone of Belovezhskaya Pushcha will be increased from 30 to 70 thousand hectares in 2011. Thus, forest management, hunting and other kinds of use of natural resources will be limited.

Accordingly, the Economic Activity Zone of the National Park will be reduced from 57 to 14 thousand hectares. Some agricultural lands of the National Park are excluded from the intensive agriculture and organic farming will be organized within this area. Some other part of lands will be used for reforestation and forage fields for wildlife.

For guidance of proper order in the management of national parks, the Board of the Department of the President of the Republic of Belarus has made a decision on March 2, 2011, to optimize the management structure and activities of subordinated national parks and the Berezinski Biosphere Reserve. Some changes in personnel have also been accepted and are going to be accepted .

The confirmation from UNESCO to include Belovezhskaya Pushcha into a Preliminary List of World Heritage Sites for re-nomination with changes in the boundaries and criteria has been received on March 16, 2011. On March 22, 2011, a letter from the Division of Biodiversity of Director General of the Council of Europe on the visit of experts to prolong a European Diploma has also been received.

The implementation of planned activities and the adoption of the new Regulations on the State Nature Protection Establishment "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" in 2011 will make it possible significantly to improve the natural ecosystems of the National Park and its management structure in the near future.

Yuri Nazarov, Deputy Manager of the Presidential Department of Affairs
Prepared by Kachanovskiy