Cutting down Scientific Permanent Plots for forest monitoring (2003), continuation

Infringements: Clauses 25 and 27 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus «About Special Protected Natural Territories and Objects» are violated; Clauses 1 and 55 of «Forest Codes» of the Republic of Belarus are violated; annihilation of Scientific Permanent Plots for long-term monitoring; cutting of the forest at Scientific Permanent Plots; the impossibility of continuation of forest monitoring; violation of the ecological balance within the protected forest; infliction of damage to biological diversity.

Events, facts, documents and evidences: In the section "Cutting down scientific permanent plots for forest monitoring, May - December 2002" it has been shown that large-scale and uncontrolled felling has been conducted by the administration of the National Park, headed by director Nikolai Bambiza. It had resulted in the destruction of many scientific plots, to which a strict regime of protection applies in order to serve permanent scientific research. Infringements to the legislation on nature management have been made in 2001 and 2002, especially by conducting cutting to trees which have been blown-down by wind and have been infected by bark beetle. Within Permanent Plot N38, situated within compartment 708D, an illegal clear cutting of the living forest was brought into practice. It resulted in annihilation of the entire forest.

The inspection of a number of permanent scientific plots in 2003 revealed that the administration of Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park has not taken any positive steps in order to respect the scientific plots. Due to the absence of valid control and lack of permissiveness on the side of the higher office - the Property Management Department of the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Belarus - the park's management consistently continued to orderly destroy the Permanent Scientific Plots.

Scientific Permanent Plot No 7, compartment 741B
Year of establishment - 1970
Forest type - Spruce moss-grass forest (Piceetum oxalidosum)
Average age of stand - 120 years
Average height of stand - 32 meters
The wood volume - 630 meters cubic per 1 hectare

In 2002 several trees that were infected by Bark beetle were felled and fire wood was stored on Permanent Plot no. 7. Afterwards the logs were dragged across the plot which is a standard of this spruce stand and they were stored at the edge of the plot (see the section "Cutting down Scientific Permanent Plots for forest monitoring, May - December 2002").

In 2003 an additional number of trees were cut on this Permanent Plot and they were dragged out of it. On these pictures the fire wood which is stored on the Scientific Permanent Plot is visible. At this time the trunks of cut trees have already been taken away. The soil and the vegetation on the Permanent Plot were damaged as a result of dragging.

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(Compartment 741, April 27, 2003)
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(Compartment 741, May 09, 2003)

Scientific Permanent Plot in compartment 742A
Year of establishment - 1970
Forest type - Spruce moss-grass forest (Piceetum oxalidosum)
Average age of stand - 120 years
Average height of stand - 34 meters
The wood volume - 522 meters cubic per 1 hectare

In 2002 many trees that had been infected by Bark beetle or that had been blown down were felled and removed. Fire wood was stored on the permanent plot (see the section "Cutting down Scientific Permanent Plots for forest monitoring, May - December 2002". In 2003 the Scientific Permanent Plot was mutilated. An additional cutting of trees has been conducted on the site, later furrows for planting trees were made by use of ploughs and finally artificial plantations were set.

Photo 6 presents spruce number 237; it was cut as fire wood.

On photo 7 a young spruce, number 187, is in the middle of stumps that remind of the old-age trees that were vitally alive shortly before. The trees were cut down and supplied to a sawmill for further wood production.

Photo 8 shows an enormous stain on the burned ground around spruce number 207. The remnants of cut wood were burned on the site and the fire has been so strong that is has completely burnt out the spruce behind number 207, while the bark of the adjacent thick oak has been blackened to a height of two meters.

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(Compartment 742, April 27, 2003)

Furrows are being made on the entire area of the Permanent Plot on pictures 09, 10, 11, 12 and 13 as a preparation to planting artificial forest. The result is equal to final destruction of the primary forest and its soil as well as the irrevocable loss of the scientific standard that has been adopted for environmental monitoring during many years.

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(Compartment 742, April 27, 2003)

All that remained of the scientific standards is depicted on photos 14 and 15. Only a few years ago this Scientific Permanent Plot was covered by spruce moss-grass forests, which grow naturally in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. A part of a tree numbered 178 on the right and a corner pole of the Permanent Plot at the left are the only objects that remain from the situation under research. Corner poles are set at the corners of permanent plots for the designation of their borders. The primeval natural forest which was present locally for thousands of years has been replaced by man-made plantations. There will be very little similarity between such plantations and the true Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

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(Compartment 742, April 27, 2003)

Scientific Permanent Plot No 38, compartment 708D
Year of establishment - 1974
Forest type - Pine moss-bilberry forest (Pinetum myrtillosum)
Average age of stand - 165 years
Average height of stand - 34 meters
The wood volume - 680 meters cubic per 1 hectare

In the year 2002 illegal clear cutting of spruce-pine forest of old-age was brought into practice on this research plot (see the sections "Cutting down Scientific Permanent Plots for forest monitoring, May - December 2002" and "Clear cutting of living coniferous forest of old-age in protected quarters, October - December 2002". The Permanent Plot was completely destroyed by the adopted measures.

In 2003 a forest nursery was set up at this place. For this purpose this site was cleared, the stumps of the recently cut trees were removed by bulldozers and brought to long sandy ridges and deep furrows were made by the use of ploughs. Finally seedlings of pine were planted. Typically a great number of stumps, that until recently connected living pines of old-ages to the earth, were left behind in the soil. Workers were unable to root out the stumps of the powerful trees from the ground with their stubbing machines, as the roots were still alive and as strong as the primeval pines had been.

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(Compartment 708, May 31, 2003)

The figures above present a chronology of the annihilation that was brought into practice at Scientific Permanent Plot No 38, located in compartment 708D, in 2002 - 2003.

The first picture, made in July 2002, shows pines of which the trunks are scorched from below as a result of an up-ground fire, that was lighted in May 2002. An up-ground fire does not result in the death of old pines, since their bark is thick enough to protect the trees' cambia against the powerful influence of high temperatures. The trees are located near a chink which is in use to monitor the ground water level. On the second picture, made October 2002, it can be seen that the border of the forest has been forced back fifty meters as the result of an initial clear cutting operation. The third picture, made December 2002, shows a further growth of the deforested area around the Scientific Plots, since an additional clear cutting was conducted on this site onto the living spruce-pine forest. Later the removal of stumps was made within this site where illegally felled trees from the living old-age forest were gathered. Afterwards furrows have been introduced and artificial plantations of pine were made as can be seen on the fourth picture.

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(Compartment 708, July 06, 2002 - October 16, 2002 - December 21, 2002 - May 31, 2003)

Further: Artificial planting at sites on which the "primeval" forest was cleared (Spring 2003)