Violations: Articles 26 and 27 of Belarus' Specially Protected Wilderness Territories and Sites Act, Article 55 and 63 of the Forest Code of the Republic of Belarus; the environmental balance within the protected forest, and damaging the biological diversity.
Events, facts, documents and evidence: In 2003 the technology of large-scale artificial planting made by application of mould-board ploughs was brought into practice in Belovezhskaya Pushcha in protected sites of felled spruce stands affected by bark beetles and in thinning stands. This topic was described in detail on the older pages "Artificial planting at sites on which the primeval forest was cleared, spring 2003" and "Artificial planting at sites on which the relic forest was cut down, 2004 (continuation)".
The fact that this kind of the large-scale practice causes an enormous harm to the Bialowieza Primeval Forest and actually is the final stage of its destruction and transformation into an artificial plantation for many centuries was simply ignored by the today's administration of the national park which is incompetent regarding ecological and wilderness protection issues. Read more detail about what harm to the relic forest is caused by artificial afforestation and see photos on this page.
These pictures show the most dramatic episodes of ecological violations related to artificial planting in sites on which the relic natural forest was growing in the past. Can one really say about any preservation of Belovezhskaya Pushcha in this case?
|(Artificial planting of trees; compartment 778; November 03, 2005|
5 years later since the planting started, the assessment of ecological changes in the forest and efficiency of the artificial afforistation was made.
Unambiguously, deer have consumed almost all artificial plantations of pine and oak destroyed them completely everywhere if there was no fence (the negative effect of a big density of deer on afforistation can be seen in photos on this page). Only deep plough furrows as scars on the body of the protected relic forest will remind to people for tens and hundreds of years that there was a natural, reserved forest at one time there and the injudicious ancestors tried to replace it by the artificial one. Strong violations of integrity of the soil cover, even in cases of the appearance of the new forest on this site in the future, will be visible for a very long time reminding about the gross human intervention in tenuous mutual relations of the protected forest.
|(Plough furrows; compartment 707, November 30, 2008)|
The same plough furrows on the plot with the pine plantations in compartmentå 802 consumed by deer are shown below in photos. Single poor young pine trees damaged by deer are only still growing somewhere but their destiny is to die in the near future. It was earlier shown in detail on this page how big enthusiasm and scope by "foresters" were to plant these pine trees in the given compartmentå and what harm was done due to this to the old pine stand.
|(Plough furrows; compartment 802, November 30, 2008)|
|(Damaged and dying pine trees; compartment 802, November 30, 2008)|
|(Only spruce trees survive as being no food for deer; compartment 802, November 30, 2008)|
Artificial pine and oak plantations are only survived within plots fenced with a wire netting or wood poles from deer. However, this is either no absolute protection as with time the netting has been torn in many parts, and wood poles have been broken and have not been under repair. So deer got a way to penetrate on the fenced areas and to damage trees.
|(Fenced tree plantations; 1 and 2 - compartment 742, 3 – compartment 807; November 30, 2008)|
|(A broken fence; compartment 707, November 30, 2008)|
These shots below show trunks of young pine and aspen trees which bark is strongly damaged by deer. Such trees have already no chances to survive.
|(Trees damaged by deer; compartment 742, November 30, 2008)|
Thus, the assessment of results of the artificial afforestation in protected compartments of Belovezhskaya Pushcha shows the unsatisfactory situation as a whole. Plantations on plots which were not fenced have been destroyed by deer almost completely. Note that big founds and material means have been spent for their creation but we see that they have been basically used for the ecological harm done to Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Plantations on plots which were fenced have rather good tree regeneration of the young forest as a whole, although these plantations are often strongly damaged by deer because of broken and non-repaired fences at the proper time. Nevertheless, this case either does not allow to speak about preservation of Belovezhskaya Pushcha as artificial plantations have anything neither to a natural forest regeneration process, nor to a relic, primeval forest. And, therefore, the creation of tree plantations leads only to the following result - to the final destruction of the relic forest of Belovezhskaya Pushcha in areas where works on artificial afforestations were conducted.
Our information. In the view of saving primary types of forest stands, pine and oak forests, human intervention into the processes of permanent renewal of the forests in Belovezhskaya Pushcha can only be approved of if management methods are applied with an environmental-friendly character combined with ecologically acceptable method of afforestation. Such methods do not destroy the (local) primary environment of the forest and they are in line with the succession schemes of the tree composition that are typical for primary forests. Taking into account the primary goal of preservation of Belovezhskaya Pushcha afforestation of the kind applied broadly within the wood producing forests - rooting out, making of furrows by use of ploughs, planting in line - is not at all suitable. Instead afforestation should be based on methods that do support the growth of a young generation of the existing forest, including sowing seed, mineralization and loosening of top soil layers by use of specific instruments. The applied measures should favor better conditions for the germination of seeds. This way the future forests will show a composition of species that is very similar to that of natural forests as well as their structure. Artificial plantations can be recognized as a strong, decisive human influence onto the forest ecosystem, while sowing can not be recognized after a short period of natural regeneration of the forest. Sites of the latter type will become an integrated part of Belovezhskaya Pushcha primeval forest. The natural processes will be copied or will return and they will correspond completely it.
What kind of Belovezhskaya Pushcha would we wish to hand over to next generations? Will it be the wild, the mighty, the perfect and fascinating, beautiful remainder of the primeval forest that once covered large areas of the European lowland? Or would we prefer to hand in the wild Pushcha's forest for the straight lines of the artificial monoculture plantations, which occupy more than half of the afforested territory of Belarus and which are characterized by a poor biological diversity and small ecological value?
|(In the left - Bialowieza Primeval Forest: 1 - compartment 827, October 7, 2004; 2 and 3 - compartment 741, September 14, 2004; 4 - compartment 774, October 27, 2004; 5 - compartment 843, October 5, 2004;
In the right - artificial pine plantations: 6 and 7 - compartment 953, August 3, 2004; 8 - compartment 944, July 16, 2004; 9 - compartment 946, August 31, 2004; 10 - compartment 826, October 5, 2004)
If we are talking about Belovezhskaya Pushcha as a PRIMEVAL FOREST, that means about a wild, primordial, relic and strictly protected forest, the answer to this question is very obvious! But in this case each day of being at "the helm" of Belovezhskaya Pushcha by the today's managers, who are ecologically illiterate and morally defective and who launched and carried out this ecological vandalism, makes a daily crime against Belovezhskaya Pushcha as a Primeval Forest!!!