Forest fire in protected compartments, May 2002

Infringements: violation of rules of fire-prevention safety in forests; violation of cutting technology; violation of the ecological balance in the protected forest; infliction of damage to biological diversity.

Events, facts, documents and evidences: In February 2002 an abnormal hurricane threw down a large area of forests patches throughout Belovezhskaya Pushcha. On May 5, 2002 fire has been set up on one of these places. Under conditions of drought it was extinguished no less than four days later.

These photos depict the forest which had been thrown down by the hurricane and had later been set to fire.

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(Compartment 708, July 06, 2002)

About 15 hectares of the area, including about 5 hectares covered by elite old-age coniferous wood have been burnt. Considerable volumes of firewood and timber have burned down. The fire was very strong, but luckily it finally did not reach the high and vulnerable tops of the trees, which has seemed inevitable. Fortunately people have been able to liquidate the fire. The oldest inhabitants of the Pushcha could not remember any fire of on this scale within Belovezhskaya Pushcha which had started through a fault of man.

These pictures show that in this place the fire nearly reached the highest tops of the trees. At the most crucial moments it was out of sheer luck that the flames did not grow out to the tops, which certainly would lead to a dramatic faith for Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

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(Compartment 708, July 06, 2002)

The stack of timber which was in full flames is seen here. This stack was build up at Scientific Permanent Plot (SPP) in compartment 708D. The plot had already been cut partially at that time. This is eloquently shown by the shield of the SPP, sadly declined above stumps after cutting.

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(Compartment 708, July 06, 2002)

In Spruce-Pine forest at the edge of the patch of forest which had been killed by the hurricane an above-ground fire was set up, which led to the loss of Spruces on these places. Pine has suffered only slightly of the above-ground fire. The above-ground fire does not result in the death of old Pine, since their bark is very thick. This protects the cambia and the core of the tree; this way it is able to stand the enormous heat of fire.

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(Compartment 708, July 06, 2002)

Facts and events do show that the reason for setting up the fire was to get rid off remnants of the felled trees. It was done in a period with dry and hot weather, in other words a period of considerable danger of fire, which is a rough violation of the technological discipline adopted in Belovezhskaya Pushcha as well as in many other Belarussian forests.

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(Compartment 708, July 06, 2002)

On this photo it is clearly visible on which spots remnants of the cut wood were burned after the dead trees had been removed. The old-age Spruce-Pine forest is located directly beside the area of fire.

Further: Felling living Alder forest of old age