NEWS ARCHIVE: APRIL 2009

April 30, 2009 "Belorusskaya Lesnaya Gazeta" (The Belarusian Forest Newspaper) newspaper, N 18 Science for the future of the relic forest

The Scientific and Technical Council for the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park has several influential names on its roster, such as academician Viktor Parfenov; Academy corresponding member Mikhail Nikiforov; Pyotr Kozlo, doctor of biology; Depuyty Forestry Minister Nikolai Yushekvich, and Vitaly Korenchuk, deputy director of nature reserves at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, among others. They praised the contribution to science made by the national park’s small team. All the more so because the Pushcha scientists did a good job publishing a number of titles: a collection of research papers and ten separate articles, a book on the wisent (the European bison species native to Pushcha) intended for the general reader, two brochures, four guides, six calendars, thirty-five articles and commentaries in periodicals and many more. The scientists held two international conferences on Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

In their reports, the speakers described the most substantial results obtained in the course of the studies.

As the forest forms the basis of life for the various inhabitants of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha, the scientific department is paying special attention to studying the life of forest phytocenoses, the dynamics of forest plantations’ species and age composition, the processes at work in these and forecasts of their further development. The work draws on a type of stocktaking (forest evaluation) of stand in specially designated areas, permanent test sites, covering each tree, and its age, height, diameter and condition, among other parameters. Trends can be subsequently identified by comparing data over long periods. The results obtained while studying the timber stand were voiced by senior researcher Dmitry Bernatsky.

The forest reserve is associated with an abundance of species, some of these rare or endangered. Indeed, Belovezhskaya Pushcha has many of those: the forest is home to 60 higher vascular plant species included in Belarus’ Red Book. Valentina Khudyakova has studied the populations for several years now. The factors that affect their condition have been identified, and the researchers are in the process of mapping out ways to maintain the population numbers and stability.

The wisent is the priority species for Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Aleksei Bunevich, doctor of biology, has been observing the wisent population in the forest for years. The sex and age structure, reproduction process, causes of deaths and spatial distribution patterns – some of the issues related to the life and habitation of the species, are being analyzed on an annual basis. Other ungulates inhabiting Pushcha have been an object of study along with the wisent. The roe, wild boar and deer populations, perceived as an essential part of the forest, were found to have grown significantly over the past year. The forest is equally hard to imagine without the birds – not only the songbirds. The birds of prey, many of these long endangered, have attracted special attention. The species composition and numbers of the feathered predators indicate how diverse the avifauna and the habitation conditions, and how well preserved the environmental conditions, are. These issues, along with factors affecting the species diversity of the birds of prey, were covered in the report by Nikolai Cherkas who has successfully defended a doctoral thesis recently.

Changes in the natural environment of Belovezhskaya Pushcha are being recorded on an annual basis and summarized in the form of a separate volume under the title of Chronicles of Nature. The document helps trace the dynamics which, like the reports, are approved by the Scientific and Technical Council.

All the reports and work programs for 2009 were approved following the discussion. This year being an anniversary year for Pushcha, it is not only research programs that the scientists are to perform but an extensive effort to prepare publications for the general reader providing better information about the nature and inhabitants of the ancient forest. There are plans to publish more than a dozen books, brochures and booklets.

Another subject discussed by the Council was the plan for forest management work to preserve the national park’s woodland. This includes preparation of planting stock, the planting process, and fire prevention measures, among other essential forestry operations.

The interior design of the future Nature Museum was the topic of a separate discussion. The museum’s exhibits, to be prepared using state-of-the-art equipment, will be accommodated by a new building currently under construction in the national park. Dioramas featuring forest inhabitants will be on display side by side with historical exhibits reflecting the many events in Pushcha that influenced the history of the region and the world.

Anna Dengubenko, the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha".
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Translated by Alexander Sukhoverkhov
April 30, 2009 Website "Taragana" Belarus begins construction of tunnel for frogs

Belarus has begun construction of an underground crossing in a national park to facilitate safe passage of frogs, media reports said Thursday.

The so-called ‘frog tunnel’ in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park is part of a reconstruction project of the road linking the park and Brest, a city bordering Poland, the Belaruskaya Lesnaya Gazeta newspaper reported.

There will be three tubes 50 meters apart to provide safe passage for frogs and toads who are often hit by cars and buses on the busy road.

This is the second ‘frog tunnel’ project in Belarus. The first such crossing was built in 2006 in the Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve, some 150 km north of the capital Minsk.

RIA Novosti
April 30, 2009 "Belorusskaya Lesnaya Gazeta" (The Belarusian Forest Newspaper), No 18 About the Belovezhskaya Miracle and tsar notes

A photo album "Belovezhskaya Miracle" is just now on sale and has already excited interest of the readers. The scientific employees of the Berezinski Biosphere Reserve Igor Byshnev and of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" Nikolai Cherkas are its authors. The book edition issued in the Publishing House "Belarus" has 3000 copies and it is dated to the 600-th anniversary since first nature protection in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. The album consists of five sections which tell about the history and today of the natural treasure of our land. The most of the pictures are published for the first time. The illustrations of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha's king – bison - and the landscapes of the primeval forest take the key place in the abloom. The unique photo materials tell about the visiting of Belovezhskaya Pushcha by the famous persons.

The edition has come into the market at once after the presentation of the album which took place in the National Library of Belarus on April 14. By the way, copies issued in the Belarusian language are sold better in the Grodno region while the ones in Russian are in the capital. Both versions have a short translation in English language counting upon the foreign reader.

The photo album is the result of the long-term persistent work, the scientist and one of the authors Nikolai Cherkas has said in conversation. To make a rare picture, it had to go on foot many kilometers, to be in the bog for many days and to spend the night in the forest during the weeks. The circumstance of my living in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha helps to do it and I am happy to enjoy its beauty every day. We together with Igor Byshnev have tried to impart fascination of the magnificence of Belovezhskaya Pushcha we have for everyone who will be interested in our album.

In May the same Publishing House will issue the other book "Imperial Huntings in Belovezhskaya Pushcha" by Nikolai Cherkas in the co-authorship with the employee of the Museum "The Moscow Kremlin" (Russia) Irina Pormuzima. It contains new materials, not published earlier. It will be interesting not only to see the pictures of the imperial huntings but also to meet records made in the diary by the last Russian Emperor Nikolai II.

Svetlana NIKOLAEVA
April 22, 2009 Website "Photobelta.by" Photo report: The travel to Belovezhskaya Pushcha can be possible in the State Duma of Russia

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Description

The travel to Belovezhskaya Pushcha can be possible in the State Duma of Russia. This opportunity for the Russian deputies was given at the photo-exhibition "The 600 Years for the Belovezhskaya Pushcha Reserve" which was opened in the building of the Low Chamber of the Parliament. The exposition was organized by the Administration of Affairs of the President of the Republic of Belarus, the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha", the Standing Committee of the Allied State, the Ministry of Culture of Belarus, the Union of Writers of Belarus with the assistance of the State Duma of Russia and the Embassy of Belarus in Russia.
The picture on the right shows the general director of the State Nature Protection Institution "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"" Nikolai Bambiza at the inauguration of the exhibition.
Photo by Vladimir Cheburkus
Technical service by BelTA
April 15, 2009 "Respublika" (The Republic) newspaper, No 69 Schoolchildren to rescue frogs

The Kamenyuki village. The River of Pravaya Lesnaya (The Right Forest River) runs just a few hundred meters from the entrance to the State National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha". Every spring right here thousands of frogs migrate from a marsh low place through the asphalt road to an opposite higher place.

Today a car-flow of tourists wishing to visit Belovezhskaya Pushcha seriously threatens the frog community. Schoolchildren from a local school have undertaken to protect frogs and they, under leadership of scientists of the National Park, conduct nature protection actions on protection of marsh migrants. Vasiliy Arnolbik, senior researcher of the forest department of the National Park, share his practical experience in this respect. Before he moved in Kamenyuki, he worked in the Berezinskiy Biosphere Reserve where the migration of frogs was facilitated thanks scheduled repair of a local motorway. Using this case, the environmentalists have constructed tunnels under the road there making corridors for amphibians. Such the underpasses for frogs are yet not realistic in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. And the children therefore help them in the way they can. They use headers asking the drivers who like fast driving to reduce the speed and to look carefully at the road of liking. The children transfer amphibians which appear in the unsafe zone to the places where they aspire.

Fedor Mukha
April 14, 2009 Website "BELTA" Belarus prepares four UNESCO nomination files

Belarus is going to submit four nomination files to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Aksana Smotrenko, deputy chief of the historical and cultural heritage protection and restoration department of the Culture Ministry of Belarus, told a press conference on April 14.

These files include Fortifications of Brest Fortress, Specimen of Wooden Architecture of Polesye, Fortified Churches of Belarus (the villages of Synkovichi, Murovanka, Kamai) and also the Palace and Park Ensemble in Gomel.

Last year Belarusian and Polish specialists completed the preparation of the cross-border nomination portfolio “The Augustow Canal – a piece of work of man and nature”. Belarus has also prepared the file “Tangible spiritual heritage of Euphrosyne of Polotsk” about Holy Transfiguration Church of St. Euphrosyne Monastery and St. Sophia Cathedral in Polotsk. The two files have been sent to the World heritage Centre and are now being examined in accordance with international regulations.

Four historical specimens located on the territory of Belarus have been included in the World Heritage List – the Belovezhskaya Puscha (1979), the Mir Castle (2000), the architectural-cultural complex of the residence of the Radzivills in Nesvizh and the Struve Arc (2005).

The state list of historical and cultural values of the Republic of Belarus includes 4,787 landmarks. Fourteen sites have the highest category which is awarded to the places which have been included or proposed for inclusion into the World Heritage List

Aksana Smotrenko also added that the publishing house of the Belarusian News Agency BelTA has published the edition about the historical and cultural values of the Republic of Belarus. The book is the first full collection of the landmarks of Belarus.
April 07, 2009 Wensite "Belarusian Regional News" Belovezhskaya Pushcha risks to become a desert. The drought threatens the nature and people’s local life

20 thousands of hectares had been dried in the National Park. The natural hydrologic balance here is in danger now. Even the water-wells of 9 cylinders deep (more than 10 meters) are dry.

Ecologists recommend stopping the intensive dewatering. At least 300 ha in the bottom-land of the river of Lesnaya Pravaya should be left in their natural state and written off the balance sheet.

There are 222 houses in Verkhovitchy village of Kamenets district. There are some 500 habitants here. The village is 90 km from Brest and 25 from Kamenets, the district center. It is not really a lonely spot in the neck of the woods, but the habitants of the village feel that their problems don’t concern the management.

The wells are dry as the spring comes, complains the local habitant Anna Kendys.

She says that the well is dry in April already. She needs to draw water several times just to have a bucket full. And the well is deep! Water disappeared after the dewatering. They don’t have any more pasture and grass that reason the village renounced the idea to have cows. Before there were more than a hundred of cows.

Thanks to the letters and complaints of the habitants the village was included into the program "Clear water" but the necessary works will be finished only in 2011. The local management does not have the necessary sum of money.

We have proposed to collect the funds together. We could have built 10 or 15 stand-pipes along the street but nothing was done, says the cheaf of the Kamenets housing and communal services, Aleksandr Golovatch.

Right now he has no time for discussions. There are agro-villages "Dolbizno" and "Ogorodniki" being renovated not far from Verkhovitchy. But the standard of 35 litres par habitant per day is also not accomplished in these agro-villages. The hospital of Verkhovitchy has 30 beds. The hospital shall provide medical assistance for three thousands people and therefore the patients need to wait to be hospitalised! As a rule, most of diseases are due to bad water.

The government of the country is very concerned about the ecological problems of the dewatered territory of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha". Alexander Lukashenko personally has demanded a report on the dewatering system of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. As the specialists say there are more than 400 km of open dewatering channels. And there are 1,680 km of such channels around the territory of the National Park, in its buffer zone.

Galina Borovaya
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Translated by Olga Tumar
April 05, 2009 Website "Washingtonpost.com" Across the Continent, Big Milestones Mean Big Parties

People, places and events of historical note are celebrating significant anniversaries in Europe this year. Here is a snapshot of the birthdays. (Note: Many of the festivities stretch through the year and are countrywide.)

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* Belarus's Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park, one of the oldest nature reserves in the world, celebrates its 600th birthday Sept. 19-20. Party favors include the unveiling of four trails and a museum. Info: http://bp21.org.by/en.
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The news is placed in the short-cut form
The BP-21 Century editor's note
April 01, 2009 Website "BELTA" Belarus, Lithuania develop trans-border tourist trips

Belarus and Lithuania are developing trans-border tourist trips, Deputy Minister of Sport and Tourism of Belarus Cheslav Shulga told BelTA.

According to him, the first Belarusian-Lithuanian session will consider the mechanism of functioning of trans-border tourist trips in details. The sides also will have a meeting with a Polish delegation to discuss the use of the Augustow Canal.

“In the long run, the extension of the boundary zone will have a positive influence on the growth in export of tourist services,” Cheslav Shulga noted.

The deputy minister also noted that the Belarusian Ministry of Sport and Tourism intends to propose a qualitative good rest for the Lithuanian tourists. Especially it concerns the rest during weekends and holidays.

According to Alexander Romanovsky, deputy chief of President’s Administration, “the two national reserves – Belovezhskaya Pushcha and Braslav Lakes are located in the boundary area. As the main our goal is to attract not only Belarusian but also foreign tourists, this initiative will have a positive influence on the development of the Belarusian tourist business”.

A reminder, the Belarusian State Border Committee has introduced an initiative to reduce the boundary area from 50 kilometres up to 10-15 kilometres. This decision should have a positive influence on the development of the domestic tourism and the economy of the border regions.