Felling of living Pines of old age in protected compartments (2004), continuation

Infringements: Clauses 25 and 27 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus «About Special Protected Natural Territories and Objects» are violated; Clause 1 and 55 of «Forest Codes» of the Republic of Belarus is violated; violation of the ecological balance within the protected forest; infliction of damage to biological diversity.

Events, facts, documents and evidences: In 2002 the administration of the National Park started with secret management actions. Measures were taken that were unprecedented in the post-war history of the Belarusian part of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha, being the felling of old aged ship-mast Pines of exceptional natural quality from protected quarters (see "Cutting down of living old-age Pines in protected compartments, May - December 2002"). Consequently clear cutting of living coniferous forest with perfect Pines of old age from the upper layer of the forest was undertaken. After these actions were unmasked a grandiose scandal rose (Heorhi Kazulka "Belovezhskaya Pushcha: They go on logging it out, on and on and on .", Valentina Kozlovich "The cutting of best living old-age forest in the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" is carried out now", Yulia Dranchuk "Belovezhskaya Pushcha: a chance for its survival", Alexander Khilimon, ""Talibs" are sole managers of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha"). Public cuttings were suspended. A strict and close regime of secrecy and privacy was set up by the National Park. The access and penetration of journalists and ecologists to the area was blocked. Later locals spread the news that secret cuttings were practiced in the most precious and oldest stands of the living forest. The fellings were done in deep secret. The volume of the harvested trees was limited. Some indirect traces of these possible infringements were ascertained in 2003 (see - "Cutting down of living Pines of old age in protected compartments (2003), continuation)".

In 2004 some unofficial sources proved information on order which the administration had supposedly secretly set to extract 50 cubic metres of living Pine of exceptional economic value fore each forestry administration area of the Park. Notion was made of a few hundreds of cubic metres of wood, while possible places of illegal extraction of wood were also specified.

Various attempts to find places on which illegal cuttings had been done were successful. In one place about ten Pines of old age had been felled. There were obvious infringements to the rules of selection of trees to be cut. These are rules which have been established for specially protected natural areas.

These pictures show the first example of a Pine which was cut in conflict with the rules for selection of trees to be felled. It is clearly visible on the tree and on the stump that the tree had produced external pitch after the tree was cut. Coniferous trees ooze out pitch after felling, but only if they are cut alive. The secretion of pitch is a positive reaction of a living tree which aims to protect a damaged part of its trunk or of a branch. It prevents penetration of morbific bacteria or spores of tree fungi.

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(October 25, 2004)

These two pictures demonstrate branches and a part of the top of the same Pine. One can easily see that its needles are green. This implies that the tree was cut down around the middle of the summer.

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(October 25, 2004)

This is the second living Pine tree which was cut down under infringement of the rules on felling trees. Also on this tree white circles can be seen on the stump and the trunk. These are made of pitch which the tree repels.

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(October 25, 2004)

The third living Pine which was cut under infringement of the rules for selection of trees to be felled shows a white circle of pitch on the stump and on the trunk.

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(October 25, 2004)

This is the fourth living Pine which was cut in conflict with the rules for selection of trees to be felled.

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(October 25, 2004)

These are more Pines of old age which were felled illegally.

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(October 25, 2004)

On some places the trunks of trees fell down to a heap mixed with branches, as shown on this picture. These include illegally felled Pines as well as dead Spruces affected by Bark beetle.

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(October 25, 2004)

Consumption of the bark of felled trees by Red deer is an irrefutable proof that living Pines have been felled, since Red deer do not consume the bark of dry and dead Pine trees. The top part of the trunk has a fine bark, which Red deer have consumed willingly. These pictures show traces of nibbling of the bark of Pines by Red deer.

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(October 25, 2004)

The woodcutters were unsuccessful in cutting one of the Pines. Its trunk fell on neighboring trees. It kept hanging there.

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(October 25, 2004)

It is clearly visible that this trunk has oozed out much pitch. Drops of pitch are hanging on this felled living tree.

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(October 25, 2004)

The needles on the top of the cut Pine, which hangs on its neighboring trees, are still green.

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(October 25, 2004)

Different sites in Belovezhskaya Pushcha are an area where living trees are felled. This picture show the cut living giant Pine tree of the age of over 200 years which was found far from the first indicated site.

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(A trunk of the giant Pine tree, summer of 2004)

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(A huge stump of the giant Pine tree, summer of 2004)

A hill of branches which kept still green needles was alongside.

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(A huge stump of the giant Pine tree, summer of 2004)

Stumps of other living huge Pines felled and "bled" by pitch were found near-by.

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(Stumps of other living Pines, summer of 2004)

Thus, these pictures irrefutably prove the fact that the administration of Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park, headed by general director Nickolai Bambiza, did not change its attitude after previous exposures and scandals. The Park did not stop the illegal felling of the living forest in reserved quarters of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. The administration continues its practice to conduct illegal fellings or fellings with infringements to applicable rules in the frame of secrecy. The Park enjoys protection of the "high" head office of the Property Management Department of the President of the Republic of Belarus.

PS. Taking into account the circumstance specifies above, we specially do not indicate the location of the sites where Pines of old age were recently illegally felled. In a previous case publication of the site lead to an action by the management of the National Park and the Presodent's Property Management Department to hide the traces of their ecological crime. In this previous situation the Park avoided to take its responsibility, instead of proper and fair investigation of the case and instead of punishing the originators of the infringement. We do not exclude this case for the present situation too.

Further: Cutting down Scientific Permanent Plots for forest monitoring (2004), continuation