Wild forest landscaping and transformation into analogy of a city park in the administrative and tourist center of the national park, 2006 - 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 environmental balance within the protected area, and damaging the biological diversity.

Events, facts, documents and evidences: Just after its appointment (2001), the current administration of the national park significantly changed the strategy of its predecessors regarding the treatment of the wild nature (the wild relic forest) of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, particularly toward those parts located in recreational zones and massively visited by tourists. The keynote idea of the new administration was embodied in the intensive forestry-oriented maintenance of the protected Bialowieza Wood, the ultimate interference into natural processes that take place there, and considerable reconstruction of recreational territories in tourist and administrative centers with an eye to the creation of “look good” (urban-type) landscape and park areas. The wild nature of the main administrative and tourist center located near the village of Kameniuki suffered the most from this kind of the pseudo-ecologic management. For more information about it please see "Making forest look "good" or disappearance of rare plants, 2004".

The environmental management of the national park's previous administrations was focused on preserving of the wild nature in the tourist and administrative center at the ultimate level. Thus, an ordinary tourist might start adoring the nature in the place, from the doorstep so-to-say, not going far to the forest. Accordingly the activities aimed at keeping the adjacent forest were limited to the rational minimum necessary for ensuring a certain sanitary state of the forest and for observance of the required security measures (for example, removal of dead-standing and dangerous trees or large pieces of dead fallen wood). This practice was an example of the tradition of environmental friendliness in Pushcha that was in compliance with the best international practices of nature protection and wildlife reserve management. Some attempts of particular directors to "modernise" this tradition with forestry intensification "know-how" (for example, major forest cleanout or brush cutting) were met with the opposition of the local population and as a rule failed. The tradition was being kept.

The current administration of the national park, through the policy of mass dismissals of the local employees, has interrupted the tradition by imposing own forestry-based ideology and radical change of management of the forest parcels in the tourist and administrative center. This unlearned, abnormal, anti-environment and anti-educational style of management is being kept for almost ten years. Having been softened in recent years, this management keeps general anti-environmental approach.

The realisation of these policies began in 2002-2004 when semi-wild forest plots in the tourist and administrative center directly adjacent to the administrative buildings, hotels and other sites were turned into a sort of urban parks by means of ultimate transformation. In particular, intensive sanitary felling was organised, natural brush and undergrowth were cut down, and even fallen leaves were removed. No one ever did it in Belovezhskaya Pushcha (for more details refer to the news “Leaves and … wilderness removed from Pushcha”.

The following photos demonstrate one of these plots arranged by type of an urban park where the nature has ultimately been extinguished. Heaps of leaves distinguishable on the photos were removed by research employees of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park under orders of its director general.

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(March, 2004)

In 2009 within the program on preparations for the 600th anniversary of nature protection in Belovezhskaya Pushcha particularly thorough cleaning of the "urban park" spots was made. "Needless" brushes and trees were removed while the "park" spots were expanded.

These photos made near the hotel no. 4 and the building of the Administrative and Ecological Centre with the Museum of Nature clearly demonstrate the consequences of this "acculturation" arranged by the current administrators of the national park. The wild nature disappeared traceless...

The view of near the hotel (photos 1, 2 and 3) and the normal spot aloof from it (photo 4).

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(The "park" spot (1, 2 and 3) and the normal spot (4) in the forest; November 08, 2008)
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(The forest site looking as an urban park near the hotel no. 4; March 01, 2009)
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(Turning the wild forest sites into urban parks;
September 20, 2009)
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(Turning the wild forest sites into urban parks; September 27, 2009)
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(Turning the wild forest sites into urban parks; 1 - September 27, 2009; 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 – November 14, 2009)
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(Turning the wild forest sites into urban parks; April 04, 2010)

These photos show the destroyed site of the semi-wild nature close by hotel no. 3.

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(The destroyed site of the semi-wild nature close by hotel no. 3;
1 – March 08, 2008; 2 – November 08, 2008; 3 – April 04, 2010;
4 and 5 – November 14, 2009; 6 – April 04, 2010)

What do we have as a result? As a result every spring the wild nature of Belovezhskaya Pushcha puts all its efforts to re-establish brushes and trees that have been cut. After that they are cut down again. Thus, for many years a batch of environmentally faulty administrators of the National Park is waging war against the wild nature on the territory of the tourist and administrative center. These administrators do not give the nature any chance to live according to its own laws with a minimal regulatory intrusion when anything disturbs or constitutes a danger for tourists.

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(Self-recovery of the forest within the sites maintained as urban parks;
August 09, 2009)

The following photos document a great heap of the cutover trees and brushes located in one kilometre from the tourist and administrative center on the floodplain of the Pravaya Lesnaya River. This heap does not include firewood, commercial timber or the wood burned on site. That was the price paid by the nature of the tourist and administrative center of Belovezhskaya Pushcha for the celebration of the 600th anniversary of its wilderness’s pseudo-protection.

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(A heap of the cutover trees and brushes; compartment 823, August 21, 2009)
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(A heap of the cutover trees and brushes; compartment 823,
1, 2 and 3 – September 06, 2009; 4 – November 10, 2009)