Tens of thousands cubic meters wood left behind in the forest rot away (May 2001 — January 2003)

Infringements: Clauses 25 and 27 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus «About Special Protected Natural Territories and Objects» are violated; violation of the ecological balance within the protected forest; infliction of damage to biological diversity; economic losses resulting from deterioration of the quality of the timber.

Events, facts, documents and evidences: Currently intensive wood cutting is being carried out in Belovezhskaya Pushcha in order to tackle the mass scale infections by Bark beetle of Spruce. However, the volumes of timber cut do considerably exceed both the maximum capacity of wood processing workshops and the actual means available to the National Park for transporting the raw wood out of the forest. Therefore significant quantities of timber are being stored in the forest after felling. The wood is left laying for months and even years, awaiting time of delivery to sawmills. Initially the workers take out the best quality timber of valuable species. Wood with less wood quality is left behind the forest for an unspecified period of time, thrown away and doomed for decay.

These pictures show numerous stacks of timber that has not been taken out of the forest shortly after felling. These stacks are laying all around the National Park. The wood, intended for production, in the meanwhile is being affected by moulds, fungi and harmful insects. The trunks of the trees decay and cracks cause a gradual decrease of the economical value of raw high-quality timber.

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(Compartment 553, June 22, 2002.)
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(Pictures 1, 2 - compartment 552, June 22, 2002; picture 1 - compartment 827, June 30, 2002; picture 1 - compartment 741, July 6, 2002)

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(Compartment 824, June 30, 2002)

For a long period of time even timber cut within a distance of 100 to 200 meters from a hotel and the administrative building of the National Park and wood directly beside a tourist route, where numerous visitors of the National Park come by, has not been removed.

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(Compartment 741, July 6, 2002)

On these pictures it can be seen that Spruces used for attraction of Bark beetles as wood-traps, were mixed with a stack of wood that has not been taken out. Patches of the Spruce bark were taken from the trees for the monitoring the development of the Bark beetle infection. Since these wood-trap Spruces were not taken out of the forest, like it is prescribed by the sanitary rules, young Bark beetles successfully grew up and flew away, which leads to the infection of new, but still healthy trees.

Allowing that wood is rotting away in the forest does not only mean that economic losses have to be accepted, but the cut forest becomes an additional source for duplication and spreading of the Bark beetle pest as well. The Bark beetles inhabit the felled wood until they safely finish their development cycle. Then they take off and start to infect other trees. This results in creation of new centers of Bark beetle nests, while the old centers are being extended. This situation is the roughest and most serious infringement of the sanitary rules. It leads to mass infection of Spruce stands by Bark beetle.

Our information. Beetles which flayed out for the purpose of spreading themselves through the forest, often do repeatedly occupy standing and already infected Spruces, because among those trees the surface under the bark has not been damaged yet by other generations of the bugs. The beetles do prefer to consume a tree «economically». Bark beetles have flayed out in great numbers from trees that were cut and left behind in the forest, after they consumed them. Then they settled in healthy, standing Spruces. This way Bark beetles affected a much bigger number of living trees. The fact that extremely unsatisfactory measures have been taken to remove the felled and infected wood from Belovezhskaya Pushcha has become a serious additional factor for the promotion of the duplication of Bark beetle and a wider infection of Spruce forest.

These pictures show that a new focus of Bark beetle has arisen close to a stack of timber. The wood was pulled together at this place and then it was abandoned, left to lay in the forest.

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(Compartment 741, July 6, 2002 and October 20, 2002)

Our information. On the 5th of July 2001, 1,029  cubic meters of wood had been left behind in the forest. This volume increased to 7,400  cubic meters by 1st October 2001 and on 1st January 2002 it reached a volume of 15,608  (!) cubic meters of felled timber to which no attention or interest was paid. This fact proves that the basic energy of the foresters was spent on cutting as many trees as possible, while at the same time the further destiny did not get the managers of the National Park excited.

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(Compartment 553, June 22, 2002)

In spite of the fact that «mountains» of timber that had not been taken out of the forest were growing cuttings of the trees proceeded at the maximum speed from Belovezhskaya Pushcha. New fellings were done on places where wood laying for months, that had started to decay, was at hand in the same time.

During autumn 2002 a control inspection has been carried out. It showed that the situation did not improve, but turned out to be worse. At that time the accumulated wood that had been felled had grown to an estimated volume of 80,000  cubic meters! The pictures show stacks of Spruces left behind in the forest that were laying for a period of 1.5 years. The timber had completely lost its commercial value.

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(Compartment 553,
October 16, 2002)

The manner in which the removal of valuable living Pine and Spruce timber was executed, felled by the powerful hurricane that struck Belovezhskaya Pushcha in February 2002, cannot be regarded as optimal as well. Although a basic part of the wood has been removed hundreds of cubic meters of high quality timber, including logs of Pine trees aged 100 to 150 years, thrown down and broken by the wind, were left behind in the forest. It resulted in a decrease of the technical quality of the harvested timber through the rotting process and the trees became sources of additional duplication of pest insects, which are a potential threat for surrounded living forest stands.

On these pictures it can be seen that valuable timber of Pine timber was laying at a place of harvesting for over half a year. The wood started to be affected by fungi, it has turned black and has begun to lose its bark.

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(Compartment 708, October 20, 2002)

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(Compartment 708,
January 29, 2003.
*photo by IREX/Promedia)

These pictures were made by journalists during the «exemplary-indicative visiting» (press-tour) in the National Park on January 29, 2003. It was organized by the management of the National Park after it was unmasked and after critical publications had appeared in press. It can be seen that stacks of Pine timber lay near a forest road, but at that time it has turned black completely.

Further: Timber-processing industry