NEWS ARCHIVE: FEBRUARY 2014

February 25, 2014 Website "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"" Results of the bison census are available

In February 2014, the accounting of bison was summarized in the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha". On January 1, 2014, 460 bison were recorded. This is 4 animals more than the number of the last year. Small increase is due to a lower birth rate and higher death of animals. This was caused by the fact that in 2013, 11 bison were captured and taken to the Vitebsk region, and the same amount was transferred to the reserve gene pool group and eliminated, and another 12 animals were the natural loss of the population. Over the past year 46 calves were born in the bison herd. Some of them appeared in the autumn.

As previously, adult animals older than 3.5 years (66%) dominate in the bison population in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Females (222 ones compared to 81 males) dominated among adults. Some bison were identified which must be transferred to reserve gene pool group.

Bison in the National Park populate the territory of 10 of 17 forestry areas. Their biggest amount is in the Pruzhany district, Brest region (267 animals) and in the Svisloch district, Grodno region (111 animals).
February 24, 2014 Website "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"" Forest pests under control

Pest survey in the forests of Belovezhskaya Pushcha in 2013 showed that the state of the forests of the National Park is generally satisfactory, and the sanitary measures had a positive effect - a decrease in outbreaks of pests and diseases. The supervised needles and leaf-eating pests in the territory of Pushcha had small quantities.

There is a slight weakening of oak stands, which is caused by increased death of trees in old-oak forests. This is due to the natural aging forests. In general, the oak stands of the National Park are of good health and forest pathology conditions. Mass dying trees were not observed.

At the same time, an analysis of appearance of bark beetle centers, pheromone monitoring and accounting of wintering pests showed an increase in their numbers. Thus, the bark beetles and stem pests remain to be a major threat to the forests of Belovezhskaya Pushcha.
February 22, 2014 Website "EvrazesNews.com" Bison population to increase through the Union State

Last year, Union State's Permanent Committee approved the Program "Roadmap for Bison", designed for 2014 to 2018 years. It is expected pretty great results from this program, as academician of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus Piotr Vityaz said at a briefing in Minsk.

After all, according to the scientist, it is possible to consider as the Belarusian heritage the fact that bison have been preserved in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. "Usually, as a rule, there are several subspecies of bison, and they naturally interbreed in the wild. This enhances not only the genus of bison, but also allows creating new, as it is said, bison subspecies, because there is the influence of one system to another," academician of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus Piotr Vityaz also noted academician of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus Piotr Vityaz.

"Belarus has a small territory and it is developed very intensive. Therefore, the problem is to assess and develop not only in Belarus, but together with Russia, as our border is open, and there are no boundaries for bison as they go to Poland and back. And it is necessary together with Russia to assess and develop a system for preservation and further management of this valuable animal. With the use of remote sensing or by using so-called unmanned satellites can be done counting and observing where and how they live, where they migrate and how numerous they are. This is the focus of this Program," he added.
February 22, 2014 Website "BelTeleRadioCompany" Video: Bison to be counted in Belovezhskaya Pushcha

Their census is also conducted with the aim to know the age and sex of animals.

Victoria Potonya knows how many giants live in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Workday of the expert on bison Aleskei Bunevich begins before sunrise. Of course, this routine is only for a few weeks, when the census of bison is conducted in Pushcha. Winter is the preferred season to count bison. Food is under the snow, so grass and branches are not enough for the beasts. Herds go to feed clearings or to be closer to the specially equipped feeders.

Observation of bison is conducted near the feeding places room towers. A recorder is invisible there. It is necessary not only counting the number of bison, but also distinguishing their sex and age, and identifying patients and newly born.

Bison in Belovezhskaya Pushcha was divided into five groups according to the principle of territorial distribution. Most bison are in the central part of the protected forest.

Not to overdo the feeding, there is a manual on a barn door. Calves get a special "menu" in separate houses.

The National Park annually spends about 2 billion Rubles (~ $ 200,000) to keep the bison population. Bison always lived in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. However, there is a sad page in the history of the giants. In the early twentieth century, a forester killed a last freely living bison female. In that time poaching was common in local forests. Since the Pushcha's bison are listed in a Red Data Book. It took a long time to restore their number and a tremendous work was done to do this. They were looked for all over Europe - in private collections and nurseries. Today, the population of Bialowieza bison is one of the biggest in the world.

According to the most recent data of the census, 460 bison lives now in Pushcha, 46 of them are calves. This is more than the capability of the ancient forest to feed them. According to scientists, the optimum number is about 350 animals. However, this year a joint Belarusian-Russian project on the regulation of the number of giants should be starting. There is the so-called road map for bison. The plans are to relocate part of the population of bison from Belovezhskaya Pushcha to forests of Russia that to improve the gene pool of these animals.

(Video-report can be viewed by downloading the video file here, in Russian)
February 20, 2014 Website "BelTA" Wolf population in Belovezhskaya Pushcha to explore with the German partners' assistance

The wolf population in Belovezhskaya Pushcha will be in focus of study of Belarusian and German scientists, as BelTA learned from Deputy Director General for science of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" Vasily Arnolbik.

Study of gray predator is one of the priority areas of joint work. It is part of the action plan of long-term international program of cooperation between the National Park, Frankfurt Zoological Society (Germany) and the NGO "APB-BirdLife Belarus".

The main goal of the research is to study the ecological and biological features and the role of this species in the functioning and regulation of the number of communities of vertebrates, as well as its interaction with the environment in the conditions of the protected nature. Complex of modern research methods, including the use of photo-camera traps, tagging wolves by special collars and the genetic study of the population, is involved for the observations for the first time in Belarus.

To monitor the wolf populations in different parts of Pushcha, there was set 14 automatic photo-camera traps of the multifunction operation since the autumn. Camcorders, equipped with sensors that react to any movement, have been put in alleged habitats of animals and on main wolf trails. With this equipment, photo- and video-observations of the objects can be made in any time, including night. Unique shots from these photo-traps have already been obtained, as Vasily Arnolbik said. Moreover, the lenses of cameras catch not only wolves, but other animals, as well as humans who are lovers of forest walks in these places.

The winter registration of animals has shown that currently a few wolf families of about 30 animals live in Pushcha. For this year the task is to catch at least 3 predators to mark them with special collars. "The task is not simple. It is very difficult to catch wolf. This beast is clever, cunning and cautious. We are hoping for help from hunter service," the Project's coordinator and member of the NGO "APB-BirdLife Belarus" Victor Fenchuk says. According to him, 15 thousand Euros will be allocated for the purchase of collars within the program this year.

The next and simultaneously major stage of the work of scientists will be studying genetics of the Pushcha's wolf population. Research results will add to the body of knowledge about the biology, ecology, lifestyle, migration and other aspects of behavior in terms of gray predator's habitat. In addition, they will be used in the implementation of programs for the conservation and restoration of the wolf population in Germany, where this species has long been extinct.

Memorandum of Cooperation between the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha", Frankfurt Zoological Society and NGO "APB-BirdLife Belarus" was signed on December 17, 2013. The program is designed for the next five years. The main purpose of the agreement is cooperation to strengthen the strict protection status of the Reserve, to promote the natural dynamics of forest ecosystems and to study model species and groups of animals like bats, ungulates and predators.

Frankfurt Zoological Society was founded in 1858 and is one of the oldest conservation organizations in Europe. Priority of the Society is to promote the ideas of wildlife conservation in Germany and other significant locations around the world.

By Svetlana Vechorko
February 18, 2014 Website "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"" Who is companion for wolf from Belovezhskaya Pushcha?

An international program to study the wolf runs in the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha". The purpose of research is to study the ecological and biological features and the role of this species in the functioning and regulation of the number of vertebrate communities. Complex of modern research methods, including tagging wolves by special collars to track the movement of animals, the use of photo-camera traps, as well as the genetic study of the population, is involved for the observations for the first time in Belarus. Research is carried out in the framework of a long-term program of cooperation between the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha", Frankfurt Zoological Society (Germany) and the NGO "APB-BirdLife Belarus".

To monitor the wolf population in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, 14 automatic camera traps of the multifunctional operation were set. They are video apparatuses with motion sensors. They are located in habitats of these animals, or on the main wolf trails. Camera traps can produce photo- and video-fixing of the animals even at night.

Unique shots from these traps have already been received. Moreover, the lenses often catch not just wolves, but other animals, as well as humans who are lovers of forest walks and are in these places by chance.

Research results will add to the body of knowledge about the biology, ecology, lifestyle, migration, behavior and other aspects of life of gray predators in their natural environment. In addition, they will be used in the implementation of programs for the conservation and restoration of the wolf population in Germany, where this species has long been extinct.
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February 14, 2014 Website "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"" In support of a UNESCO World Heritage Site

In the Bialowieza National Park (Poland), a regular meeting of the joint Belarusian-Polish working group on further promotion of the territory of the Bialowieza Forest as a transboundary area on a UNESCO's List of World Heritage Sites. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Environment, Bialowieza National Park, forestry officers from Bialowieza, Browsk and Hajnowka forestry areas of the Regional Directorate of State Forests of the Republic of Poland, as well as members of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha".

The meeting discussed and signed an agreement on the preparation and implementation of the phases of the management project for the World Heritage Site "Bialowieza Forest", in which an exceptional universal value of the area, the main objectives and principles of management, existing and potential threats, competences of the coordinating Belarusian-Polish Committee (structure of its organization and powers) are formulated. There were considered the IUCN recommendations on how to improve conditions for the migration of ungulates within the trans-boundary forest of Bialowieza Forest.

The meeting was held as part of the preparation of additional information requested by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, as based on expert assessments of both parts of the Bialowieza Forest for inscribing the Site into the List on the new criteria and with consideration of the fact of the expansion of its territory. In Poland, the expansion was done at the expense of the territory of the Promotion Forest Complex (forestry areas of the State Forests). In Belarus, it was done due to the optimization of the functional zoning scheme, in particular due to increasing the strictly protected area (core zone) under Presidential Decree number 59 dated 02.09.2012.

February 06, 2014 Website "BelTA" Census of bison conducted in Belovezhskaya Pushcha

The traditional winter inventory of bison, the highest priority's forest dwellers of the National Park, has finished in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. BelTA learned about it from leading researcher of the National Park, Ph.D. Alexei Bunevich.

According to preliminary data, 460 bison inhabit the National Park (compared with 456 ones on January 1, 2013). This number includes 46 calves, counted by experts. Animal yield of this year was slightly less than last year.

The aim of the bison census is to establish both the number, age and sex structure of the population. Staff of the forest and hunter service performed the calculation by visual observations in places of artificial feeding of animals. Although bison live throughout the National Park, the biggest number of giants listed in a Red Data Book is concentrated in the central part of Pushcha, namely in Hvojnitskoe and Suhopolskoe forest areas, Pruzany district. Bison could be seen noy only on specially equipped "canteens", but also often on farmlands where they can consume the remnants of last year's harvest.

In winter, bison form both large and small groups. In particular, fieldworkers found two large clusters of animals, numbering from 80 to 100 animals. Huge herds were concentrated in areas with good feeding conditions. There were also small isolated groups of animals consisting exclusively of males (mostly adult), from two to twelve bison. But the most common form of the bison community is a mixed herd of 25 to 30 animals, consisting of full bison families - males, females and the young.

According to the expert, the population of 350 animals make the optimal amount of bison for Belovezhskaya Pushcha, so the part settles animals in new habitats. For example, last year 11 adults from Pushcha were joined to the Vitebsk bison micro-population. Currently the issue of export of two Bialowieza giants to the Vladimir region of Russia and five ones to Kazakhstan is solved.

Due to planned activities by scientists, Belarus became the second state in the world in the number of bison - their number reaches 1,150 animals. Overall, the world now has more than 4,000 these animals, which was success to be returned to the nature from almost nonexistence.

By Svetlana Vechorko
February 04, 2014 Website "Belsat Channel" Video: Will amendments to the Forest Code harm forests?

It's the topical interview with the ex-deputy director on science of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" Heorhi Kazulka. Approximately one third of the territory of our country is covered by forests. That fact is known, perhaps, for each of the schools. It has become a true hallmark of Belarus in the world. Therefore it is not surprising that the announced amendments to the National Forest Code caused such a heated discussion.

(Video can be viewed at Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqkpvW2yhXc, in Belarusian and Russian)
February 03, 2014 Website "BelTA" A program to restore the hydrological regime of the National Park's areas is implemented in Belovezhskaya Pushcha

As part of the management project of the National Park, a program to restore and maintain the natural hydrological regime of the territories, damaged by land reclamation, is implemented in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, as BelTA learned from director of public organization "APB-BirdLife Belarus" Victor Fenchuk.

Restoration and stabilization of the water regime of reclaimed forest ecosystems is performed within the Project "Small Streams - a Great Influence," which is funded by the Corporation "Coca-Cola". The project cost is about $ 40,000. The project aims to preserve moisture in the pristine forests of Belovezhskaya Pushcha through activities in small and temporary (seasonal) waterways - streams and small rivers. "The project in a certain sense is innovative for Pushcha, as for the first it pays attention to the small streams, which at first glance appear to be unserious. At the same time, they are of great importance in terms of impact on ecological balance", Victor Fenchuk said.

Since the 60-s of the last century, a number of wetlands of Belovezhskaya Pushcha was transformed into agricultural lands through drainage. Rivers and other waterways in the central part of Belovezhskaya Pushcha and the adjacent areas were deepened and straightened to accelerate the melt-water escape. As a result of this kind of economic activity, the level of groundwater in different parts of Pushcha decreased by 0.2 to 1.5 m. Climate warming and water shortages due to increased drainage had a significant impact on the species composition of the ecosystems of the National Park, which caused to a significant weakening of forests. Spruce stands were particularly suffering from it. Throughout 2000 to 2004, they were vulnerable to be attacked by tree trunk pests. This has caused death of about 30,000 hectares of spruce stands.

As reported in the Scientific Department of the National Park, an inventory of small and ephemeral streams in the historical part of Pushcha was made in 2013. A detailed list includes about 40 streams and small rivers. From the point of the expected effect and tourism prospects, 8 objects were identified for which the restoration of hydrological regime is of paramount importance. Projects to stabilize the water regime in Plyanta, Borushichi and Tepluhi tracts are started for development. Water-retaining structures will be mainly simple dam, made by hand using local materials such as stones, trunks of fallen trees and forest soil, taking into account the specificity and uniqueness of the landscape structure. If necessary, engineering projects will also be developed. Construction works within the frame of projects are planned for 2014.

By Svetlana Vechorko
February 03, 2014 Website "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"" New Routes

The Manor of Belarusian Grandfather Frost, enclosures with wild animals and Nature Museum are traditionally the most visited sites in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, especially in winter. Bus tours in the National Park are also of great interest to visitors. During these visits, tourists can see a variety of natural, historical and cultural attractions, like a 600-year-old giant oak tree, almost 400-year-old "queen" pine tree, "royal" bridges with double-headed eagles, a variety of flora and fauna, as well as to hear an interesting story about the conservation area rich by events in the history.

In addition, excursions to the Brest city with a visit to Brest Fortress and Saved Values Museum, and to the Holy Uspenskiy Monastery in Zhirovichi are organizes at the request of visitors.

To diversify leisure of the guests of the National Park, new exit routes to develop are planned in 2014. It is assumed that a visit to Grodno city - one of the most beautiful Belarusian cities with famous architectural monuments and historical and cultural heritage - will be a special highlight. As innovation, a very interesting tour to the Forest and Hunting Ground "Vygonovskoe" in Ivatsevichy district - the land of pristine wetlands, lakes and wet forests - will be for lovers of nature. In this area, tourists can take a boat ride on the calm lake or Oginski Canal with its interesting waterworks, built in the XVIII century, and can go hiking trails or join the car excursions. In addition, if tourists want, they can go fishing (lakes Vygonoshchanskoye and Bobrovichskoe abound with fish!) and spend the night in a newly built hotel.