Hundred thousand cubic meters of wood rotting on the forests' ground (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 through decreasing quality of raw timber.

Events, facts, documents and evidences: Numerous facts presented in earlier sections, related to the fight against the bark beetle infection in 2001 and 2002, concerned felling of forest stands infected by the beetles and the consequent harvesting of the raw material (see "Tens of thousands cubic meters wood left behind in the forest rot away (May 2001 - January 2003)". Removal of the felled trees had become an issue of second importance, while no effective decisions were made in order to solve the problem of the presence of increased volumes of felled trees quickly and promptly.

The manner in which the removal of trees infected by bark beetle was executed was done in an extremely unsatisfactory way. Insufficient means to remove the harvested trees out of the National Park were available, while the capacity for processing the huge quantities concerned was too small. Under those difficult conditions - the lack of means for proper management of processing the loads of wood - it would be expected that support would be demanded from other organizations. It is rather probable that the administration did not opt for such external support. This would however be logical, even for harvesting standing trees from the forest, as had happened repeatedly in the history of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. But in the given situation the most expedient option would be to stop large scale logging of trees and to limit the volumes of harvested timber to the maximum capacity of the available wood processing industries. In fact it was necessary to develop a proper program for sanitary cuttings in which the needs of the science of forest protection and development and the preservation of biological diversity would be taken into account. As a part of this program the sites concerned and a schedule for fellings had to be defined precisely as well as aspects on the conservation of (rare / protected) flora and fauna. However, no attention was paid to these matters. The administration persisted its strategy of large scale felling in the relic forest, while the logged quantities of wood that could not be removed from the forests' ground kept growing. The persisted logging, in combination with increasing volumes of stacked volumes of logged trees, lead to a breakdown of the ecological balance within the protected area of Belovezhskaya Pushcha; damage to biological diversity was made. The strategy resulted in economic losses for the National Park, because the wood, still laying at the sites on which they were felled, started rotting. Besides that spruces which had been logged, but remained within the forest, became true "hotbeds" for bark beetles, which could successfully finish their growth. It allowed the beetles to leave the spruces as mature insects searching for other, healthy trees.

A control inspection, carried out in spring and summer 2003, revealed that huge «mountains» of wood had not been removed from the forest were present. The 10,000's of cubic meters of the previous years had grown to 100,000 cubic meters. According to the regulations the supply of timber should never exceed 10,000 cubic meters, while wood infected by bark beetle should be removed from the forest in no more than ten days after felling.

These pictures show a huge stack of harvested timber. The row has a total length of 100 meters. The trees were collected in the vicinity of the village of Lyadskie, at the side of the central road, awaiting delivery to a workshop of the wood-processing-industry.

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(Compartment 710, March, 2003)

On these pictures, made three months later, exactly the same huge stack of wood is visible. After this prolonged period of meaningless presence of these logged trees the rotting process has started modestly.

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(Compartment 710, May 31, 2003)

As shown in several other sections the administration of the National Park ordered logging of huge living pines from the protected part of the forest in 2002, an infringement of the Belarusian law of nature protection. The logging of these trees did in no way relate to the program of felling spruces infected by bark beetles (see sections "Cutting down of living old-age pines in protected compartments" and "Clear cutting of living coniferous forest of old-age in protected quarters"). The imposed measures resulted in harvesting of large scale felling of raw wood from the forest and a consequent production of timber products in the nearby wood-processing-workshop.

As an amazing fact there is proof that even outstanding, excellent timber of the highest «primeval» character, felled illegally, was left behind on the forests' ground close to the sites on which it was felled.

These pictures demonstrate stacks of grouped wood, which mainly comprise trunks of huge living pines, cut in October 2002. At the moment the photographs were taken these logs were laying on the specific site for six months yet. The logs lost their bark in previous months, while the wood has turned black. Both are basically natural consequences of neglected trees.

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(Picture 1 and 2 - compartment 742, April 27, 2003; picture 3 - compartment 742, May 09, 2003)

These trunks were presented before in the section "Cutting down of living old-age pines in protected compartments". The trees were felled shortly before these photos were made; so the trees are lying just in the position they took when they fell down. Stacks have yet to be build up.

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(Compartment 742, October 20, 2002)

The same stack of raw wood is shown here. These huge pines of old age were cut illegally in October 2002. About 50% of these trees had not been removed from the forest by half a year later. On top of these trees other logs, cut down in following months, were put; the second stack is laying in distance. In front of the first stack another stack has been build up from elite pines, which had been cut in 2002 and had so far remained within Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

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(Picture 1 - compartment 742, October 20, 2002; picture 2 - compartment 742, April 27, 2003; pictures 3 and 4 - compartment 742, May 09, 2003)

Felled pines of the highest quality, put together to a stack, are depicted here. The wood has been harvested on this site, that was struck by the powerful hurricane. of 2002. On the location where these pictures were made, compartment 708, the hurricane showed its extreme power. On the same site an illegal clear cutting of elite spruce-pine forest of old age was executed, by which the borders of the forest area on which most trees had been blown down by the storm were expanded. These trees were felled just for the superior quality of their wood. However, big numbers of these trees are simply laying in the forest; these stack cannot be seen from any road.

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(Compartment 708, May 09, 2003)

In September 2003 the administration of Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park was officially compelled to admit the fact that 80,000 cubic meters of wood were laying at that time on the forests' grounds (article "Offer help to remove timber" published in the national paper "Byelorussian Forest Newspaper", No 35 (440), on September 11, 2003). In line with a circumspect letter of the Committee of Forestry the regional departments of forestry sent their lorries to Belovezhskaya Pushcha in order to support a prompt removal of the huge volume of wood that had been accumulating in the forest. Unfortunately though, in respect of the economic point of view, this measure cannot restore the quality of wood in which processes of rotting are present.

Further: Low effective wood processing (2003)