Violations in the Wilderness Protection Zone: medium oak's extraction, preliminary results, 2009

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)

In the winter of 2009, facts of the extraction of oak trees in the compartment 807 which is a part of the Wilderness Protection Zone of Belovezhskaya Pushcha got known. Photos and the brief description of this violation are given below.

They show that, first, a big-sized and wind-fallen trunk of an oak tree laying in the strictly protected compartment near its border has been cut up. Further these logs have been delivered to a timber mill.

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(Oak tree extracted from the Wilderness Protection Zone; compartment 807, January 31, 2009)

Secondly, a large quantity of big-sized oak logs has been stored in this place. According to the preliminary information, some part of them has been felled in the next compartment which does not belong to the Wilderness Protection Zone but the other part, probably, has been extracted deeper from the compartment within this Zone. Now this information is verified and is specified to make final conclusions.

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(Oak logs stored in the Wilderness Protection Zone; compartment 807, January 31, 2009)

Let's add that the tourist ecological path "The Strictly Protected Oak Forest" passes along the forest cutting line in this compartment. It can make up a conclusion from the photos below about what tourists see at that moment when visiting this path.

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(A shield indicated the ecological path; compartment 807, November 03, 2005)
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(The ecological path "The Strictly Protected Oak Forest" "decorated" with logs; compartment 807, January 31, 2009)

So, the Wilderness Protection Zone in Belovezhskaya Pushcha is actually not strictly protected. The photos placed on this page testify to the timber-harvesting activity in the area of the Wilderness Protection Zone. That is the violation of the nature protection legislation and the status of protection of this Zone. That also testifies to the true values and attitude of the today's administration and employees of the national park towards the preserved wild nature.