Felling of living Alder forest of old-age at the entrance to the National Park, October 2002

Infringements: Clauses 25 and 27 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus «About Special Protected Natural Territories and Objects» are violated; clear cutting of living old-age forest; felling of living old-age trees; infliction of damage to biological diversity.

Events, facts, documents and evidences: An administrative complex, the current management center of Belovezhskaya Pushcha has been set up in the 60’s. The complex consisted of the administrative and scientific departments of the National Park as well as the Nature museum, a restaurant and a hotel. In those days the immediate surroundings have been adapted to more efficiently serve visitors. A car park was designed at the central entrance. A stand of Pines of old-age (Pines are approximately 120-140 years) was situated within the borders of the parking area, while most often trees are cut down in comparable situations. The leaders of the Pushcha at that time were scientists and great foresters who respected one old tree of perfect quality in view of its wood quality as well as aesthetic merits. The tree has been respected, while the parking area around the tree has been covered by hard asphalt. The tree was a pleasing and surprising object for visitors.

In the 80’s over 150,000 tourists visited Belovezhskaya Pushcha annually. On days in summertime numerous busses shapes traffic jams on the road towards the entrance of the Pushcha. Still nobody would come up with the idea to cut down a slightly hampering and old Pine. She symbolized of the careful management of Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

At the beginning of the 90’s the number of visitors of Belovezhskaya Pushcha decreased sharply to 10,000 and increasing again to 50,000 at the end of the 90’s. An old Pine in no view would be an obstacle for the limited flow of visitors arriving at Belovezhskaya Pushcha by car.

Nonetheless the administration of the National Park decided to enlarge the car parking in Autumn 2002. In order to create the parking about 0.5 hectare of living Alder forest of old age has been felled. On the site vital and healthy Alder of near one hundred year were growing. The old Pine, aged 150 years, has been pulled down as well. Regarding the location where the intervention was executed the board of the National Park infringed the adaptive rules at a spot which the whole country and any visitor would note.

These photos show the site where the Alder forest has been felled (photo 1) as well as a stack of timber made up of living Alder (photo 2). On the enlarged picture arrow 1 points at the 150 year old, remarkable, vital and healthy Pine, arrow 2 points at 100 year Alder. The intervention can be classified as murder on living trees, a clear infringement on the regulations, adopted on a touristic hotspot within Belovezhskaya Pushcha. The felling of these healthy trees is not just illegal, by doing so at this specific spot the management of the National Park acts unresponsable towards their educational role as well as it contradicts to the goal of creating awareness of the respect our natural heritage deserves.

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(At the central entrance to the National Park, October 16, 2002)

Our information: The number of visitors of the National Park 2002 had dropped by 3000 compared to 2001. According to forecasts, an essential increase of the tourist flow to the Belovezhskaya Pushcha in the coming year cannot be expected. Therefore the enlargement of the existing car parking was completely unnecessary and far-fetched in our opinion. The flow of tourists is so much limited in recent years that the area for parking available definitely meets the required space. However, should enlargement of the car parking be necessary nonetheless it would have been better to create it at a meadow situated no more than one hundred meters from the entrance of the National Park.

Further: Continuation of felling living stands of Spruce