Cutting down living Ash trees of old age in protected compartments, 2005

Ecological offences: no-purpose use of natural objects and resources on the territory of a National Park; cutting down of living trees (old-age Ashes); violation of the rules on selection of trees to be felled; violation of the maintenance of the ecological balance within the protected forest; infliction to biological diversity; violation of the environment of fauna and flora in Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

The following laws are violated: Clauses 12, 15, 23, 27 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus "About Special Protected Natural Territories and Objects" of October 20, 1994 (brought into force May 23, 2000); Clauses 20, 35, 55, 63 of "Forest Codes" of the Republic of Belarus of July 14, 2000; a number of other normative acts as well.

Events, facts, documents and evidences: As has been outlined in older pages conducting illegal fellings of wood of excellent quality of old age trees including giants, especially Pine, in protected quarters of Belovezhskaya Pushcha has become a common practice. See pages "Felling of living Pines of old age, 2002"; "Cutting down of living old-age pines in protected compartments, continuation, 2003" and "Felling of living Pines of old age in protected compartments, continuation, 2004".

The year 2005 turned out to be no exception. According to informal information local citizens have seen that secret fellings were conducted in some areas within Belovezhskaya Pushcha. In particular, illegal fellings of Ash trees of old age have been conducted in the Korolevo-Mostovskoye forest area in summer of 2005. This object is controlled by forestry officer Zinaida Sereda. It is well known that the Ash has very valuable wood in economical terms. Its wood is used not only for constructions in buildings, but also to manufacture furniture. Therefore Ash wood has a very high price in the wood market.

An inspection of sites in which felling of Ash trees was suspected has been carried out in September. The inspection confirmed illegal cutting of trees of old age in a protected compartment. The illegal felling of Ash trees was done in compartment 803. Eight trees had been cut down.

Facts and proof about the illegal felling are described below.

These photos show a stump and a piece of the trunk of the first Ash tree of old age which had been illegally cut down. A feature of the tree species Ash is the regular presence of rotten wood in the core part of the trunk, extending from the ground up to a height of one to two meters. However, this does not negatively affect to the quality of the wood in other parts of the trunk. In the presented case, one can see that the rotten part - approximately 1.5 meters long - has been sawn off and was left behind on the plot.

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(Compartment 803; September 7, 2005)

The left photo shows, in the distance, a thin part of the trunk and the crone of an illegally felled tree. This implies that the central part of the trunk has been cut out and has been taken away, while the other part of the trunk, which was of no use for wood sales, has been left at the plot. The central photo demonstrates the same part, photographed in close distance for the occasion. The good quality of the Ash wood is well visible. The right photo shows the crone of the tree.

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(Compartment 803; September 7, 2005)

These photos show very well that all branches of this Ash tree have leafs. Some of the leaves still have their green colour. Taking into account that the leafs are dry, the tree has presumably been cut down in June or July.

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(Compartment 803; September 7, 2005)

These photos show a stump even bigger than the previous one and a piece of the trunk of this Ash, with rotten wood. This tree is roughly estimated to be about two hundred years old.

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(Compartment 803; September 7, 2005)

These photos show branches of a tree with numerous dry leafs. It proves that a living tree was cut down.

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(Compartment 803; September 7, 2005)

Remnants of the third illegally felled Ash tree - part of its trunk, its branches and its dry leafs - is shown here.

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(Compartment 803; September 7, 2005)

The next photos show more pieces of trunks of the felled Ashes.

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(Compartment 803; September 7, 2005)

A drag trace appeared while the logs were dragged out of the forest, to a platform of a timber lorry. It is shown here. These pictures show a forest site where the living Ashes were cut down illegally.

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(Compartment 803; September 7, 2005)

These ways were used to drag logs out the forest.

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(Compartment 803; September 7, 2005)

These pictures demonstrate the first living tree on the second site that had been cut down illegally.

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(Compartment 803; September 7, 2005)

This is the second big living tree which was cut down illegally.

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(Compartment 803; September 7, 2005)

This is the third big living tree which was cut down illegally.

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(Compartment 803; September 7, 2005)

According to trustworthy sources, the managers of the National Park are well aware of the illegal fellings and the extraction of living Ash trees, carried out under command of Zinaida Sereda , the forest officer of the Korolevo-Mostovskoye forest area. However, any measures to punish those responsible for this action have not been taken. A question can be posed in relation to this situation: Connivance, patronage or partnership. why have those responsible not been addressed?

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PS. In order to compare, this photo shows a virgin Ash wood and a living old age Ash tree.

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(Compartment 803; September 7, 2005)

Further: Felling of big old-aged Spruce trees as traps for Bark beetle, 2005