Ecological paths and "eco-tourism" in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, 2005 2009

Events, facts, documents and evidence: The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" actively develops ecological tourism last ten years. For this purpose ecological routes and paths are created there and the appropriate infrastructure is built and is renewed. However, the word "ecological" is understood more often in the own way there, another than it is accepted in the civilized world. Tourists are attracted through advertising of the local wild nature and unusually beautiful natural landscapes both here and there. As a rule, the things advertised are exactly shown for tourists in national parks of the civilized countries. The same things in the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha", unfortunately, are by no means always the case as it is advertised.

First, the Wilderness Protection Zone where the wild nature should be preserved untouched makes only 18 percent (one fifth part) of the national park.

Secondly, the Wilderness Protection Zone is located rather far from the tourist centre. So, tourists in a rather small quantity are carried there using car routes along which they see the Belovezhskaya Pushcha's forest at most destroyed by felled operations, partially cleared from dead wood and almost completely cut down in some sites. Thus, stumps and cleared spaces are the most typical "ecological" sight which the tourists have to look at and to listen at the same time to nice stories by the guides about the "primordial" Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

Thirdly, the fact that the forest outside of the Wilderness Protection Zone, even along specialized tourist routes, is specially cleared from dead wood, gets a recreational shape and does not appear for the tourists in its wild and primordial kind can be considered a local know-how. It is so, although it should be just right to opposite. Ecological paths in Belovezhskaya Pushcha are called ecological because they should show a wild, untouched and preserved nature ("the true ecology") of Belovezhskaya Pushcha and should teach for people its natural patterns and right ways in which this nature should be conserved. In practice, it turns out that the tourists are taught how the wild nature should be destroyed (?).

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(A mark on a tree designating the ecological route; 1 - compartment 614, August 12, 2006; 2 and 3 - compartment 843, September 19, 2009)
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(A mark on a tree designating the bicycle ecological route; compartment 843, September 19, 2009)

By now pedestrian ecological paths well designed for tourists are available in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, including the Wilderness Protection Zone. The most of them are located rather far from the tourist centre and, therefore, we have no opportunity to show them in photos. On the other hand, the administration of the national park is obviously not interested in demonstrating and advertising its successes and achievements at the website "Belovezhskaya Pushcha - 21 Century" and that is why it does not promote to reach a settlement on this issue in any way.

A few ecological paths located within the area of 10 kilometers from the tourist centre are shown below in the shots. So, the situation and the things which photos demonstrate to the tourists, therefore, can be estimated.


The ecological path near the tourist center of the national park.

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(The general view of the ecological path; compartment 843, September 19, 2009)
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(A birch tree with a bison head at the ecological path; compartment 843, September 19, 2009)
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(A very old oak tree at the ecological path; compartment 843, September 19, 2009)
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(The ecological path "Lake Ring"; compartment 823, September 06, 2009)

The ecological path "Strictly Protected Oak Forest".

It is situated at the border of the Wilderness Protection Zone in the compartment 807.

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(The general view of the ecological path; compartment 807, November 03, 2005)
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(A shield which describes the ecological path and shows its scheme; compartment 807, November 03, 2005)
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(A shield which describes tree species; compartment 807, November 03, 2005)
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(A place of rest for tourists; compartment 807, November 03, 2005)

However, tourists see not only the reserved and strictly protected Belovezhskaya Pushcha's forest on this ecological path but also the things which destroy it, sometimes in large scales...

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(Some logs on the ecological path in autumn; compartment 807, November 03, 2005)
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(The ecological path "decorated" with many logs in winter; compartment 807, January 31, 2009)

The ecological route "Sacred Stone".

It is situated in the Regulated Nature Zone. A big stone makes its most interesting sight which is under some legends last decades more similar to fables about ostensibly special local traditions and customs told by guides of a Museum of nature. Without going into the discussion on this issue, we will only show the situation with relation to the ecological tourism.

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(A general view and a big stone; compartment 778, November 03, 2005)

To leave money and meal on the stone is a tourist tradition recently appeared. One can imagine what this place will turn into, if each tourist will begin to follow this "tradition".

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(Money and meal on the stone; compartment 778, November 03, 2005)

Timber has always been felled in this place. And, therefore, old stumps around the stone is a common attribute, although it looks abnormal from the point of view of the ecological tourism.

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(A stump around the stone; compartment 778, November 03, 2005)

After the ecological path was created, an order was given to make the forest clear of dead wood along the walkway of the tourists. Foresters did "the utmost of their efforts". The forest was capitally cleaned - not only from staying dead trees but also from trunks lying on the ground, despite dead wood is a very important part of a wild primeval forest! Even old trunks of trees covered by moss and vastly decayed, even big branches broken off have been removed to use them as firewood. Thus, the ecological path in the wild primeval forest of Belovezhskaya Pushcha is actually transformed into a parody towards this wild forest.

The general view of the felled site with many logs of a big size is below shown in the photos. An oak tree which bark has a dark blue mark designating the ecological path is in the foreground in the first three photos.

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(The felled forest along the tourist route; compartment 778, November 03, 2005)
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(Logs along the tourist route; compartment 778, November 03, 2005)
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(Firewood along the tourist route; compartment 778, November 03, 2005)
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(Decayed trunks cut up for firewood; compartment 778, November 03, 2005)

The desolate "Taiga trail" located two kilometers from the tourist centre and the Nature Museum of the national park was earlier shown at the page "Empty ecological paths". The path is yet not restored to this day.

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(The decayed wood path; compartment 824, November 03, 2005)

Thus, the photos made at ecological routes and paths testify that the things actually are not so perfect and wonderful in "this kingdom". These photos also show that the ecological education based on an idea of the strictly protected Belovezhskaya Pushcha and preservation of the wild primeval forest is not understood at the deep level in the national park. Instead of it the conception of the forest which basically should be cleaned up and should be similar to urban parks prevails there. All of these testifies to the low professional level and the insufficient ecological education of the managers and employees of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" which meet neither criteria of the wildlife science, nor modern standards and requirements of development of the ecological tourism.


To take more details and a closer look at problems of the ecological education and the tourism development in the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" is possible on this page and if following to links specified there.