Scientific Permanent Plots for forest monitoring felled. Monitoring results, 2008

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; annihilation of scientific permanent plots for long-term monitoring; cutting of the forest at the scientific permanent plots; impossibility of continuation of forest monitoring; the environmental balance within the protected forest, and damaging the biological diversity.

Events, facts, documents and evidences: A major task of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park is scientific research. The Park is equipped with a Scientific Department, which in the 70’s was amongst the largest scientific institutions occupied with ecological research within the whole former-USSR. The most important task of scientific researches in Belovezhskaya Pushcha has been and is to conduct monitoring of the forest, namely investigation on growth and changes of the forest, the development of natural successions and natural processes. For this purpose Scientific Permanent Plots (SPP) have been set up in the forest since 1952.

The intensive and uncontrolled cuttings, under the current administration of the National Park headed by Nikolai Bambiza in 2001 - 2005, has lead to destruction of a big number of scientific permanent plots. Some plots have been cut, removed, destroyed in several phases. It was described in detail in earlier pages "Cutting down of Scientific Permanent Plots for forest monitoring, May - December 2002", "Continuation, 2003" and "Continuation, 2004".

Our information. A Scientific Permanent Plot represents a site of the forest, where all trees by a diameter over 10 cm are numbered and put on a map-scheme. The locality of a Scientific Permanent Plot (SPP) is marked by special poles. Each tree on this plot is registered by a personal figure and entered in a special notepad for monitoring supervision. Researches aimed at increasing the knowledge of the forest-ecosystem are carried out on such Scientific Permanent Plot in each five or ten years. The thickness of each tree is measured and its condition is estimated. Scientists do analyze here the patterns of death and decay of trees and the rise of young trees. In other words growth and development of the forest stands is being supervised on these SPP. The soils, zoology, botany and phenology are themes of research conducted as well. Scientific research on SPP allows a wide range of questions in the fields of the sciences of forests, soils and ecology to be studied and eventually answered. In a number of cases there is no other option than to obtain results of investigations on site in stead of using other methods or execution on other places. This applies especially to study of succession processes as well as long-term dynamics of the forest. Based on the results of long supervision carried out on the Scientific Permanent Plots in Belovezhskaya Pushcha hundreds of scientific publications were issued, including fundamental monographs. The investigations were and are conducted by scientists of Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park, by leading research institutes in the Republic of Belarus as well as by foreign scientists. On plots situated within the Polish part of the Pushcha scientists from Poland have made numerable prominent scientific discoveries in the field of ecology which are widely adopted worldwide.

The Scientific Permanent Plots enjoy the highest absolute protective status. The SPP have been recognised by the UNESCO as a part of the World Biosphere Reserve Belovezhskaya Pushcha, which status applies to the whole territory of the forest. The SPP are inviolable sites, on which any human action besides research, including picking of mushrooms and berries. It is forbidden on the plots to remove any (rotten) wood and even grass must be left untouched. The plots are exclusively available to scientific research. Economic activities, allowed in the Regulated Nature Zone and the Regulated Recreational Use Zone, is strictly forbidden within 30 to 50 meters from Scientific Permanent Plots.

By early 2000, over 150 Scientific Permanent Plots as well as about one hundred temporary plots were incorporated in various types of Pushcha’s forests.


The administration of the National Park strictly limits the access to the territory of the Park to independent experts, ecologists and public activists. In this way the illegal activities are rather well hidden. In despite of these regulations 5 years later the situation and ecological changes on scientific permanent plots felled in 2001 - 2003 were assessed.

There is also preliminary information that illegal cuttings down are still being conducted on scientific permanent plots in the depth of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. It is going on because of not the purposeful task but of a lack of the necessary knowledge on the forest monitoring by the administration and employees of the forest areas, and of the insufficient competence and a lack of the proper control by the management and experts of the national park. These facts will be put in the section "Photo-Fact" separately and later.


Scientific Permanent Plot №7, compartment 741B
Date of establishment - 1970
Forest type - Spruce moss-grass forest (Piceetum oxalidosum)
Average age of stand - 120 years
Average height of stand - 32 meters
The wood volume - 630 meters cubic per 1 hectare

The cutting process on this plot was described earlier in detail here and here.
The scientific permanent plot is located near the central touristic route. Earlier a beautiful blue colored shield had been placed there, indicating briefly the characteristic of this scientific plot to tourists. By now the shield is absent. The area of the permanent plot had been felled for the most part and now demonstrates a pitiful sight that's well visible in photos below.

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(The common view of the scientific permanent plot; compartment 741, November 30, 2008)
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(Angular posts at the scientific permanent plot; compartment 741, November 30, 2008)

Stumps of felled trees make the main sight of this plot.

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(Stumps on the scientific permanent plot; compartment 741, November 30, 2008)

Logs covered by bush are rotting in some places as not being taking out of the forest in due time.

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(Logs on the scientific permanent plot; compartment 741, November 30, 2008)

Nevertheless, the numbering on trees on this scientific plot has recently been renewed with the light-blue and white paint. That testifies the continuation of the scientific monitoring. A question is only appearing what matter is to do it after the inviolability of the plot was completely broken by woodcutters? Is it so if only to monitor for the start of the forest restoration after the action of vandalism against this plot happened?

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(Numbering trees; compartment 741, November 30, 2008)

Scientific Permanent Plot in compartment 742
Date of establishment - 1970
Forest type - Spruce moss-grass forest (Piceetum oxalidosum)
Average age of stand - 120 years
Average height of stand - 34 meters
The wood volume - 522 meters cubic per 1 hectare

The cutting process on this plot was described earlier in detail here and here.
The scientific plot is located at the central touristic route, a little deeper into the forest and the plot is bad visible from the nearby road. The unusually strong hurricane which occurred in 2002 struck close to this spot. By now the plot is almost empty of trees which have been cut down and a pine plantation has been made for the most part of its area.

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(The common view of the scientific permanent plot; compartment 742, November 30, 2008)

For the most part of the plot, stumps are the remains of trees earlier growing there.

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(Stumps on the scientific permanent plot; compartment 742, November 30, 2008)

A few survived trees have numbers on the bark but very bad visible. That testifies the lack of the forest monitoring carried out by employees of the scientific department there.

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(The remains of the numbering on survived trees; compartment 742, November 30, 2008)

Firewood are also rotting in some places there as not being taking out of the forest in due time.

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(Rotting firewood; compartment 742, November 30, 2008)

Pine trees were planted on this scientific permanent plot in 2003. By now the most part of the plantation is destroyed by deer because the fence netting has been torn in some places and wild ungulate can freely penetrate into this area. A lot of natural regeneration including young pine trees has appeared on this plot. However, they also has suffered much from damage by deer.

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(The artificial pine plantation; compartment 742, November 30, 2008)
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(The artificial pine plantation damaged by deer; compartment 742, November 30, 2008)
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(Natural pine regeneration; compartment 742, November 30, 2008)
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(Natural pine regeneration damaged by deer;
compartment 742, November 30, 2008)
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(Natural aspen regeneration damaged by deer; compartment 742, November 30, 2008)
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(The broken netting; compartment 742, November 30, 2008)

Scientific Permanent Plot No 38, compartment 708D
Date of establishment - 1974
Forest type - Pine moss-bilberry forest (Pinetum myrtillosum)
Average age of stand - 165 years
Average height of stand - 34 meters
The wood volume - 680 meters cubic per 1 hectare

This scientific permanent plot was located at the border of the area suffered from a very powerful hurricane in 2002. It was completely cut down. The cutting process on this plot was described earlier in detail here and here.
Today this area has nothing of the permanent plot and a pine plantation is growing in this place.


Scientific Permanent Plot in compartment 773
Forest type - Pine moss-grass forest.
Average age of stand – over 150 years.

The cutting process on this plot was described earlier in detail here.
Later woodcutters did not touch this area. Felled trees, trunk blocks and stumps remind now about the violation made earlier.

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(Untouched trees on the permanent plot;
compartment 773, November 30, 2008)
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(Stumps and a trunk block against a background of a numbering tree on the permanent plot;
compartment 773, November 30, 2008)

Thus, illegal and uncontrolled cuttings down in Belovezhskaya Pushcha have resulted in destruction of a part of the scientific permanent plots. The forest monitoring is interrupted and is stopped on some felled permanent plots. It continues on other ones but it does not reflect a course of the natural process in the foresee and shows the rough human intervention into the tenuous relationships of the protected ecosystem.