Cutting down of living Oaks in protected compartments, September - October 2002

(Possible) infringements: The Clause 25 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus «About Special Protected Natural Territories and Objects» and the Clause 55 of «Forest Codes» of the Republic of Belarus are violated; violation of rules for the cut selection of trees; cutting down live old-age giant oak trees; infliction of damage to biological diversity.

Events, facts, documents and evidences: Belovezhskaya Pushcha faced extreme weather conditions in 2002. At the end of February a hurricane of extraordinary strength struck the Belovezhskaya Pushcha which resulted in downfall of an area of 181 hectares of forest. Another hurricane, though less powerful than the previous, scudded through the Pushcha. The storm of July caused considerable damage as well. The second windstorm however did not lead to large-scale forest degradation as the earlier hurricane did, thanks to its wide front. But still a great number of trees were either thrown to earth, broken or severely damaged. These trees were subject to cleaning in order to improve the sanitary condition of the forest and to prevent that insect pests would grown in the trunks and stems. Officially no more than trees which had been fallen or had a broken stem were subject to cleaning.

However, according to information of local inhabitants, felling and harvesting of healthy trees that had not been struck by the hurricane has been executed in parts of the forest where old-age Oaks had been blown down.

At an inspection of places where healthy oaks may have been brought into practice it could not be confirmed visually that this information was correct. In compartment 745 old-age Oaks had been thrown to earth by the hurricane on a small area and these fallen Oaks had been removed from the forest.

These photos show the action of harvesting the Oaks. The first two pictures show that remnants are being burnt after the Oaks have been harvested. The next photo demonstrates dragging out of the trees by use of a tractor. The fourth picture illustrates a stack of the cut oak timber. The people responsible for cutting down the Oaks came to the site by the car on the background of the picture.

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(Compartment 745, October 16, 2002)

The second site of pest control inspected cutting down of the Oaks had already been completed. Timber has been put to stacks and is ready for removal out of the forest.

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(compartment 712, October 20, 2002)

Some of the thick stumps which were present after the cutting had been carried out may have been of living, standing Oak of old-age, as the root system was not broken or torn out of the soil. It has not been possible to confirm this visually.

Further: Felling of living Pines of old age