Events, facts, documents and evidence: The subject matter discussed below might be the most dramatic and controversial issue in the preparation of Kamenyuki for the Belovezhskaya Pushcha 600th anniversary festivities. This is not only because living beings (trees and shrub) were destroyed in the process while most locals showed no understanding of what life essentially is, but because each of the landscaping professionals involved had their own peculiar idea of what greenery plantations should look like, often based on obsolete knowledge and concepts.
The village of Kamenyuki has a fairly large amount of greenery. Forty-year-old lindens grow along the main street. Gardens are many, and there are some small parks. Green plantations have hardly been cultivated, and tiny spots of wild-growing shrub are commonplace.
The shots below show the main street with its linden alley in the various seasons of the year.
|(Linden alley, August 21, 2004)|
|(Linden alley, 1, 2 and 3: July 7, 2004; 4: October 3, 2004)|
|(Linden alley; 1, 2 and 3: September 30, 2004; 4: December 5, 2004)|
|(Linden alley; 1: February 3, 2005; 2, 3 and 4: February 27, 2005)|
|(Linden and birch alley, 1 and 2: March 8, 2005; 3 and 4: March 10, 2005)|
Trees "looking into" the windows of houses are quite commonplace. Their branches would be trimmed short later on.
|Trees near houses,
1: August 4, 2009, 2: August 20, 2009)
The plan of preparations for the Belovezhskaya Pushcha 600th anniversary festivities provided for landscaping of the Kamenyuki territory, the central residential area of the national park, in particular, making the greenery there more orderly.
Reports surfaced as early as in the beginning of 2008 that there were plans to perform an imposing overhaul and broadening of Kamenyuki’s main street , which implied that the linden alley would be cut down (!?). Local residents were told not to plant trees in the gardens in front of their houses as the plants would be replaced with lawns with grass, decorative plants and shrub. The decision evoked righteous indignation from the locals, and complaints reached as far as the capital city of Minsk. In a May 2007 meeting with the villagers in Kamenyuki, the top officials of the presidential property management department promised to revise the decision. The Minsk officials kept their promise, and the unreasonable idea to cut down the linden alley was revoked. The alley and the gardens were saved, while the renovation of the main street was kept within reasonable limits.
|(The officials of the presidential property management department meeting with the villagers on May 3, 2008)|
The photographs below show the initial landscaping work which started with the cutting of unnecessary linden branches in the spring of 2009.
|(The cutting of the linden branches, April 7, 2009)|
After that, the national park’s staff cleared the main street from overgrowth. Several medium-sized asps that grew next to the local post office were sawed down in the process. The photographs below show these and other large asps behind the fence on the right.
|(Large and medium-sized asps (on the right), March 8, 2005)|
The remaining large asps near the post office were cut without prior notice at the end of May, reportedly because they posed a threat in strong wind. There was, however, no explanation as to why sumps were left in place to grow a new crown.
The shots below show the asp stumps that remained.
|(The stumps left after the large asps were cut down, May 24, 2009)|
Full-blown landscaping, cleaning up and cutting operations began in early August. The criteria for selecting which trees would survive and which, would not, were quite harsh. Any asps, poplars and acacias, regardless of their condition or size were subject to felling. Other trees showing signs of disease or drying up were to be sawed down, too.
The shots below show the stumps of several feeble medium-sized lindens (1, 2 and 3), young maples (4) and plum trees (5) cut down on the first day next to the cafeteria and store number.
|(Linden stumps, August 10, 2009)|
|(Stumps and remains of felled trees, August 10, 2009)|
The cuttings were followed by talks involving local environmental activists, members of the village council and housing maintenance officials responsible for the type of work in question. The officials displayed a sufficiently careful and sparing approach to greenery, although the practice was not quite taking into account the latest achievements in humanitarian environmentalism. The sides came to terms after the meeting, although the acacias and asps had to be sacrificed, as the officials refused to preserve them. However, the rest of the trees were preserved. It was reported that the village would undergo a greenery planting program, and the felled trees and wasteland would be replaced with young trees to form visually appealing plantations in the future.
he shots below show workers cutting down the remaining asps that grew along the main street.
|(The cutting of the asps, 1 and 2: August 9, 2009; 3: August 12, 2009)|
The shots below show the cut-down asps near a local outpatient clinic.
|(The sawed-down asps, August 12, 2009)|
The shots below show the sawed-down acacias along the main street.
|(The sawed-down acacias, 1 and 2: August 9, 2009; 3 : August 11, 2009)|
|(The sawed-down acacias, August 12, 2009)|
Acacias that grew further away from the main street, near the uncompleted culture venue were cut down later.
|(The sawed-down acacias, September 6, 2009)|
Some dried-up and barely living old rowans were cut down next to the bus terminal.
|(The sawed-down rowans, August 10, 2009)|
Apple trees were cut down with their owners’ consent.
|(The sawed-down apple trees, August 10, 2009)|
Some lilac shrub was cut down next to the outpatient clinic.
|(The cut-down lilac shrub, August 10, 2009)|
It took two days to clear the acacia brush near building number six, a favorite meeting place for local drunkards. The place could have been saved with proper environmental planning measures, such as fencing.
|(The cutting down of the acacia brush, August 11, 2009)|
The cut-off branches and trunks were loaded on trailers and removed to a dump.
|(The clearing of the cut-down acacias, August 11, 2009)|
To be fair, one large acacia on the corner near the birch-tree alley was saved.
|(The surviving acacia, August 12, 2009)|
The area started looking barren after the acacias and other wild shrub were cut away.
|(The acacia clearing, August 17, 2009)|
A lot of shrub, and wild and cultivated fruit trees grew behind the fence that runs along the street. All of the shrub and most of the trees were cut down.
ÍThe shots below show the cutting of the shrub.
|(The cutting of the shrub, August 11, 2009)|
These photos show cut-down plum trees (1 and 2), apple trees (3) and apricot trees (4).
|(The cut-down plum and apple trees, 1: August 11, 2009; 2 and 3: August 17, 2009; 4-6: September 6, 2009)|
There were plans to keep this apple tree bearing delicious apples, only cutting away the unnecessary branches. However, it was somehow cut down at the last minute.
|(The cutting down of the apple tree, August 12, 2009)|
The remaining fruit trees had unnecessary branches cut away.
|(The cutting of the branches, August 17, 2009)|
The ash-leaved maples and other minor trees were felled for the sake of visual appeal.
|(A cut-down ash-leaved maple, August 12, 2009)|
The shots below show the clearing of cut-down shrub and trees.
|(The clearing away of the branches, 1 and 2: August 11, 2009; 3: August 12, 2009)|
This spring trimming was apparently deemed insufficient and more linden branches along the road were cut off, which resulted in the crown of the trees being lifted.
|(The cutting off of the linden branches, August 11, 2009)|
|(The cutting off of the linden branches, August 17, 2009)|
There is a small park next to a non-food and a food store in the village. The shrub and branches in the park that were deemed unnecessary by the landscape gardening workers were cut away, too.
|(The cutting of the Siberian pea shrub, August 10, 2009)|
|(The clearing of the park, August 13, 2009)|
|(The cutting of old acacias in the park, August 14, 2009)|
The shots below show the park after it was trimmed and cleaned up.
|(The park as seen after the cutting, 1 and 2: August 17, 2009; 3: August 29, 2009)|
A medium-sized poplar grew at the entrance to the village.
|(The medium-sized poplar, August 17, 2009)|
That tree was cut down, too.
The shots below show a worker sawing the poplar and several more waiting for it to start falling to land it properly using ropes.
|(The poplar being sawed, August 17, 2009)|
The shots below show the sawed-down and fallen poplar.
|(The sawed-down and fallen poplar, August 17, 2009)|
This is the "victorious" lumberjack with the trunk of the tree he had just killed which would later be sawn cut for firewood.
|(The sawed-down poplar and the lumberjack, August 17, 2009)|
Some of the trees, such as these chestnuts, started looking unnatural after the trimming.
|(The trimmed chestnut trees, August 21, 2009)|
The lower trunks of the lindens along the central alley were limed as a final touch.
|(The liming of the linden trunks, September 3, 2009)|
The village underwent a large-scale greenery landscaping, amelioration and cutting process. By and large, the trees were preserved, although many more could have survived if an up-to-date environmental approach had been taken. In such situations, a lot depends on purely subjective assessments by professionals and other individuals involved which are based on their degree of environmental education and humanism, esthetic preferences, and prejudice.
The locals have said that the “wildish and overgrown” village has turned light and spacious, and it is now possible to see through from the one end of it to the other and across the sides. This type of landscape is even slightly unusual for Kamenyuki.
|(The renovated central linden alley, 1, 2 and 3: September 9, 2009; 4: August 2, 2009)|
Besides, the cutting down of the trees and shrub demonstrated that an overwhelming majority of the Kamenyuki residents were indifferent as to what was being cut down and how much of that was being cut down. There were only a few isolated cases of locals intervening to save the plants or prevent unnecessary damage. What is more, some even highly educated local individuals complained of insufficient cuttings and asked for more trees to be cut down, primarily near their homes.
All of this is a sign that environmental and moral values in many residents of Kamenyuki are deeply in decline. This crisis is the consequence of many years of abnormal or incompetent environmental policy in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, and suppression of free thought and private initiative by the national park’s management, as well as the absence of an environmental education program for the population and the Belovezhskaya Pushcha staff. To be fair, its should be said that this is true not just for the current management but for past national park authorities, as the exploitative policy toward Belovezhskaya Pushcha and the prioritizing of natural resource management over conservation have been pursued for decades, albeit to a lesser degree than they are, now.