NEWS ARCHIVE: January 2003

January 24, 2003 «Sovetskaya Belorussiya» (The Soviet Byelorussia) Newspaper, #14 Ecological trail

A new ecological trail called «Zapovednaya Dubrava» (Reserve Oak Wood trail) has been created in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Those who wish can now see such interesting attractions as, for example, Yatviazhski Stone and a place of wild boars' mud-bath. The trail is not the only fruit of «Pushcha without Borders», an international project on transboundary cooperation in the area of the National Park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha». Under the auspices of the project workers of the Belarusian and Polish parts of the National Park exchanged visits, held a number of seminars on registration of historical and cultural objects in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Also, eco-libraries were created with forest administrative units and a manual on eco-education, «Living Pushcha», was published in our country.
January 15, 2003 «BelaPAN News Agency Save Belovezhskaya Pushcha!

On January 13, at the meeting in Minsk with Valeri Dranchuk, leader of the ecological initiative «Terra-Convention» and editor-in-chief of the newspaper «Belovezhskaya Pushcha», head of the UN office in Belarus, Nil Bune, said that he was ready to participate in a dialogue between the public and government of Belarus about issues concerning Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

As it had been reported, 12 famous Belarusian and Russian journalists, including V.Dranchuk, called on N.Bune to organize a 3-day press-conference in the National Park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha» with the public and scientists, who study the problems of this oldest European forest. The main issue of the conference, as the journalists suggest, should be commercially-forced destruction of biodiversity in Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

On behalf of the journalists, V.Dranchuk said: «The Belarusian non-governmental press has vividly shown that the conservation of Belovezhskaya Pushcha as the World Heritage Site is very arguable. The concern, though, is not only addressed to the Belarusian government. We want the UN — which can competently assess how this UNESCO World Heritage Site is conserved in accordance with international conventions — to draw attention to problems of Belovezhskaya Pushcha which are talked about by the Belarusian public. We suggest holding a dialogue with the public concerned about this National Park and the way the conservation there is carried out by the government. We want to hold the dialogue directly »at the scene«, which is Belovezhskaya Pushcha.»

N.Bune stressed that Belovezhskaya Pushcha as part of World Heritage should be conserved. The conservation may be kept by proper regulations and good management. According to N.Bune, the information he received «will be carefully studied in cooperation with the Belarusian government.» He said, that «we should hold discussions and assist in making the situation in Belovezhskaya Pushcha less tense.»

Marat Gorevoy
January 13, 2003 Belorusskiy rynok (The Belarusian Market) Newspaper, #1 Pushcha grows sparse

The situation in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha may be discussed at the next meeting of the Committee on the realization by the European reserves of the European Council Diploma recommendations, Philosophy Doctor of Biology and former deputy director of the National Park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha» in charge of science, Heorhi Kazulka, told BelaPAN. The meeting will be held at the end of January in the Department for World Heritage of the Council of Europe.

According to H.Kazulka, in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha, the oldest European Reserve which was awarded the European Council Diploma, «the elite and primeval forest is now being felled.» The scientist stresses that it is done «secretly, under pretences of necessary forest maintenance.» «Even the permanent scientific plots, which had been used for scientific monitoring for 30 or 40 years, were felled. Such plots are of great importance to the forestry science and have a UNESCO certificate.»

Although, present deputy director of the National Park in charge of science, Vladimir Tolkach, and forestry department engineer with the National Park, Irina Smolyuk, did not confirm the facts of the elite forest being felled. I.Smolyuk said that the Korolevo-Mostovskoye forest administrative ground «is taking away wind-fallen trees and there is no infringements of environmental regulations in Pushcha.»
January 10, 2003 «Sovetskaya Belorussiya» (The Soviet Byelorussia) Newspaper, #4 Developing National Parks

The Property Management Department of the President has recently discussed the work of Belarus' conservancies. The focus was on further development of four National Parks and the Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve. The National Parks «Belovezhskaya Pushcha» and «Narochanski» have been given special attention this year. In the next several years they should become the main tourist attractions in Belarus and make a good profit for the country.

The four National Parks and the Berezinski Biosphere Reserve are full of visitors these days. The parks can welcome up to 500 people daily, but, despite high festival prices, there are many more tourists wanting to get there. The Christmas and New Year holidays in Belovezhskaya Pushcha or in the Pripyatski National Park are as popular as tours to Prague or Krakov. It is no wonder, as it is impossible to see bison or foxes and wild boars wandering freely in artificial-like forests of Europe.

Handed over to the Property Management Department of the President, the national parks have changed for the better. There are more animals there now and the conservation work is carefully regulated.

Still, it would be naive to think that everyone was enthusiastic about the changes. Many local and outside hunters, who used to think of no limitations for natural resources, have had to keep to the new rules — that is to pay for fishing and hunting. The rules would seem so simple: one only has to respect the law to feel comfortable. But rich and unique protected areas of the national parks are like a magnet for poachers.

One more problem for the protected areas is forest pests. Belovezhskaya Pushcha, for example, is really suffering from an infestation of the bark beetle, which has been damaging the oldest European forest for several years now. The same situation is in the Berezinski Biosphere Reserve.

From abroad the parks are visited mainly by hunters, who pay around 70–100 Euro a day for hunting permission and thousands of euros for their bag. Forest and game grounds earned about 300 euros on hunting last year. It is easy to calculate how much money the government will get if there are more people this year than last year's 3000 visitors. To attract more people tourist facilities in the parks will be enlarged, according to deputy head of the Property Management Department of the President, Vasili Sudas. A few tourist buildings will be built in the National Park «Narochanski», a new hotel will appear in Belovezhskaya Pushcha and a restaurant will be built in the National Park «Braslav Lakes». One has to hurry up here to take the lead over the Russian businessmen who have already been buying houses in Belovezhskaya Pushcha's villages, as it would be better to offer them comfortable hotels and earn money for our county.

Liliya Hlystun