Violations in the Wilderness Protection Zone: minor, 2005

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; violation of the strict protection status of the Wilderness Protection Zone, the environmental balance within the protected forest, and damaging the biological diversity.

Events, facts, documents and evidence: The overall territory of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" is divided into four functional zones in which the level of protection varies. The first and the main is the Wilderness Protection Zone which makes 30,000 ha or 18.3% of the territory. This Zone strictly protects all areas covered by intact and wild natural communities. The Wilderness Protection Zone serves as a reserve of genetic resources of plants and animals (a gene pool) and as an entirely natural area. As such this zone functions an important reference to full natural circumstances and fully natural growth. The area is managed in order to create conditions for natural development of complexes of the forest and vegetation and its components. This Zone primarily exists of indigenous old-growth coniferous and deciduous forests. No activities other than scientific research are allowed to be practised within this Zone. As such commercial and economic projects may not be executed here.

So, the Wilderness Protection Zone is a territory of untouched wild nature and absolutely strict protection. It should be as the theory. As the practice the circumstances in Belovezhskaya Pushcha are going on a bit differently. Although the economic activity is not conducted in large scales and in the open form within this area, however the Wilderness Protection Zone is not the territory of peace, inviolability and inviolate natural processes. Big moonshine-making apparatus are build and firewood to serve them are felled on the sly, hunting are organized (including collective ones, with participation of many people – hinters and beaters), mushrooms and berries are picked there etc.

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(The common view of the relic oak forest in the Wilderness Protection Zone; compartment 807, November 03, 2005)

Photos below show some examples of the minor violations detected in the Wilderness Protection Zone.

In autumn foresters pick acorns in oak forests of the Wilderness Protection Zone for additional feeding of wild animals in the winter period. The photo below show a half-filled bag with acorns which was hidden near a tree in the evening that to make it full the next day.

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(A bag with acorns; compartment 807, November 03, 2005)

A tourist route was made in the compartmentå 807 at the border of the Wilderness Protection Zone. New shields acquainting with information about the ecological path and the surrounding forest were set up there. A big shield of the dark blue colour indicating the border of the Wilderness Protection Zone and rules of restrictions was earlier in this place. During the works it was removed and … was thrown away 100 meters deep into the Wilderness Protection Zone.

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(A shield thrown away; compartment 807, November 03, 2005)
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(A new shield set up; compartment 807, November 03, 2005)

Firewood is harvested here and there at the border of the Wilderness Protection Zone.

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(A stack of fire wood on the permanent plot in the Wilderness Protection Zone; compartment 807, November 03, 2005)

Thus, the Wilderness Protection Zone in Belovezhskaya Pushcha is actually not strictly protected. Employees of the national park are the main infringers of its absolutely reserved status. This page demonstrates only few examples of insignificant violations which number, according to information of the employees of the national park, is much bigger. So, this page does not show the true picture and the scale of violations of the nature protection law in the Wilderness Protection Zone.

Scandalous things concerning major violations of the status of the strict protection in the Wilderness Protection Zone will be given on the next page.

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