Setting up a forest nursery and the annihilation of rare plants, 2004

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

Events, facts, documents and evidences: Since 2003 the National Park provides artificial planting. Therefore furrows are made by application of tractors with mould boards on sites in the forest which have suffered windstorms and attacks of Bark beetle (see the pages "Artificial planting at sites on which the "primeval" forest was cleared (Spring 2003)" and "Artificial planting at sites where relic forest was cut down, 2004" for more details). For such large-scaled plantings numerous seedlings are needed.

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(The forest nursery, 2002)

Therefore a tree nursery of about two hectares was set up in the center of Belovezhskaya Pushcha in 2001. One of the most beautiful locations in the forest, a former nursery of the European bison, where bison were reared after the Second World War, was chosen to set up the tree nursery. On this location a mixed forest of old-age with a dominance of Oak is growing.

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(The old-age grass oak forest, compartment 680, July 10, 2004)

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(The flowering
Globe-flower (Trollius europaeus).
Photo by Alexei Bunevich)

After the war the site was partially cleared to let the grass vegetation catch more light, by which the natural food of the European bison would prosper. As a result, a unique ecosystem of Oaks with various grasses in the undergrowth, was generated on that site. It provided a home to many plants listed in the Red Data Book of Belarus. Today this is the richest site in Belovezhskaya Pushcha in terms of the number and density of rare plant species. Among the species which are growing there are European globe-flower, Mountain arnica, Tiled gladiolus, Chestnut clover and other species which enjoy a strict protection and which are listed on the Red Data Book of Belarus. There are also species to which preventive protection is recommended, because they may become rare or vanish on short term, including Finger-flower, Smooth lathyrus, Meadow-rue, Columbine and some species of bellflowers. Some of these rare species constitute glades full of flowers on a small area like, for example, Globe-flower (Trollius europaeus).

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(The rare plant Foxglove (Digitalis grandiflora),
compartment 712, July 10, 2004)

Many of these rare plant species are drastically endangered in Belovezhskaya Pushcha because of strong anthropogenic influence. This is why their preservation should have great priority in Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

The place for the tree nursery was chosen ostensibly not to affect rare plants. However, when the land was cultivated for seedlings the rhizomes of many rare plants were ploughed in and thrown out.

Despite the high value of this area for the preservation of rare plants the area of the nursery was doubled in size in 2004! Some managers say that a lot of seedlings of Oak and Pine are needed to create . artificial forest mono-plantations within the unique protected area of Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

These pictures show the extended tree nursery.

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(Compartment 712, July 10, 2004)

These pictures show the situation close to the extended nursery. Seedlings of young trees are growing up here.

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(Compartment 712, July 10, 2004)

One can only imagine how many rare plants have died with the enlargement of the tree nursery. This is especially surprising, because hundreds of hectares in the forest were damaged over the last years by infestation of Spruce Bark beetle and by hurricanes; these stands were transformed into open landscapes. There is a lot of space to make tree nurseries on other locations. However, the administration of the Park decided to set up the nursery on the place where it will bring maximum harm to the biodiversity of the protected forest. What about the priority of the National Park - to conserve biodiversity? Why do rare plants have a status of specially protected species, to be more exact, within a specially protected area?

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(July 10, 2004)

The Foxgloves, shown on these pictures, were growing near the new tree nursery and the access road. Therefore they survived. But many other plants, including other individuals of Foxglove, were less lucky. As they grew within the area of the tree nursery they were thrown out together with other rare and common plants when the area was weeded.

Further: Making forest look "good" or disappearance of rare plants, 2004