NEWS ARCHIVE: May 2003
May 28, 2003
«Argumenty i Facty v Belarusi» (Arguments and Facts in Belarus), #22
Why are bison being shot? Even school-age children know: Belovezhskaya Pushcha is unique because of its primeval forests and bison. Why then are trees being cut down and bison being shot?
V.Perevedenzev, Minsk city
Deputy Head of the Property Managment Department of the President Vasily Sudas explains that 160 cubic metres of spruce wood in Belovezhskaya Pushcha have been infested by bark beetle. Natural volume of trees which are dying out is between 240 and 270 cubic metres per year (the spruce wood amount is 3 million cubic metres). The main cause of the infestation is believed to be drought and lowering of underground water. 15 per cent of spruce wood has already been lost. Dying out spruce wood stands is an all-European problem, which is dealt with similarly everywhere, that is the trees which are dead are cut down and processed, while the forest undergoes regeneration. The nursery in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha has only saplings of trees taken in this area. They have already been planted on 106 hectares of Pushcha's land. According to Vasily Sudas, only dead trees are felled and living wood of only wind-fallen trees is processed. As for shooting bison, head of the Department of preserved natural territories and use of natural recourses at the Property Management Department of the President, Aleksander Luchkov, said that only ill animals are shot. In 2002 special committee and regional affiliations of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection issued only 10 permits to shot the animals. Controlled shooting is necessary, as bison herd used to be renewed by 5 animals and such closely-related interbreeding resulted in weakened immunity of he-bison. Many of them, when over 15 years old, start to develop a non-healing ulcer of reproductive organs. The illness, fortunately, develops in the period of natural failing of bison because of old age and therefore, the shooting does not affect the bison population.
May 23, 2003
«Zvyazda» (The Star) Newspaper, #124
Belovezhskaya Pushcha to be inspected by international experts
For the third year now the National Park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha» has been suffering from an infestation of the spruce bark beetle which ruthlessly attacks spruce forest. To protect the Pushcha, specialists suggested precision sanitary felling of dead spruce trees. Since this felling of spruces started, though, it has been going on.
But not all citizens of our country and foreign specialists have full information on what is happening in the Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Deputy Head of the Property Management Department of the President Vasily Sudas said that, taking into consideration great public interest in the situation in the National Park and in view of numerous publications in the media that commercial logging is carried out there, an Intergovernmental Committee will be initiated to study the situation in the National Park. The Committee will include specialists from Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Germany, Baltic States, experts from the UN and other organizations.
At present, the spruce wood amount is about 3 million cubic metres, according to director of the National Park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha» Nikolai Bambiza. Over the past two years the «tooth»-beetle has destroyed approximately 200 thousand cubic metres of spruce trees and this year alone it has infested around 160 thousand cubic metres of spruce wood and that is obviously not the limit for it.
Today the bark beetle multiplies in an increasingly short time. Specialists say by this autumn up to 200–250 thousand cubic metres of spruce wood will have been dead because of the beetle.
Sanitary felling of dead spruce wood is being conducted daily, but the National Park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha» is shot of money to actively fight the beetle. The park administration is going to ask the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Finances to free up additional funds for this purpose.
May 23, 2003
«Vecherniy Minsk» (The Evening Minsk) Newspaper
Belarusian scientists: spruce trees must live
Belarusian scientists suggested new ways of spruce wood stand hygienic and enhancement of their capability. To fight the spruce bark beetle they, particularly, recommend using excerption of newly-infested wood and laying out so-called trapping trees. The main point in this method is to distract the pest from healthy forests and divert it to specially treated trees where it is killed there.
Pheromone traps have also been used to fight the beetle. They used to be bought in Russia, Britain and Poland for hard currency in the past. This year laboratories of the Belarusian State University have begun to produce the chemical domestically. Thus, comparing to last year's 5.5 thousand pheromone traps, this year forest grounds are going to use over 8 thousand of such traps.
Mogilev, Belynich and Gorez forest areas have most of the infested trees. Forest grounds in Tolochinsk and Orsha areas reported over 40 per cent of spruce wood as damaged.
Dying out of spruce wood in Belarus recurs every 20–25 years. For example, Belovezhskaya Pushcha suffered from it at the beginning of the 1960s, and then again in 1994. The latter instance has not ended yet. Unwise forest management, climate characteristics and a sharp warming over the last years are among the causes which make spruce stands die.
Tatyana LOBAS, BelTA News Agency
May 22, 2003
«BelaPAN» News Agency
Eco-organizations of Belarus and Ukraine call to participants of the international conference in Kiev for conservation of Pushcha
The Coalition of Belarusian Non-governmental Organizations (NGO) for Belovezhskaya Pushcha Protection, the Ukrainian NGO Coalition for Wild Nature Protection and «Forest Campaign» of the International Socio-ecological Union made an appeal to the Ministers of Natural Resources and Environment Protection of the countries, members of the 5th Pan-European conference «Environment for Europe» which is held on May 21–23 in Kiev.
The appeal calls for conservation of Belovezhskaya Pushcha's unique primeval forests. «The Belarusian government has been recently declaring its adherence to the principles set by the »Environment for Europe« conference, as well as attempts to contribute to realization of the Aarhus convention principles. In reality, though, such declarations are not always true. The unique Reserve »Belovezhskaya Pushcha« is one of such cases. Over the last years it has been exposed to uncontrolled, intensive, sometimes even barbaric nature management, which replaced conservation and is drastically threatening the biodiversity in this unique wilderness area.
The authors of the appeal stress that the Biosphere Reserve is being turned into a «forest enterprise». «The changes taking place in primeval forests of Belovezhskaya Pushcha are fatal. The Pushcha is loosing its unique nature and wildlife, becoming just another ordinary »afforested« area,» the document says.
«One can save these primeval forests if felling is limited, regulations developed for reserves are kept to and the wilderness protection zone, enlarged to at least 50 per cent of the whole area of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, becomes a World Heritage Site. This question, though, is not even discussed today», the representatives of eco-organizations consider.
The representatives of the ecological organizations ask the Ministers «to help stop the destructive felling of the relic primeval forests and stop all activities leading to destruction of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha, as well as to assist in creating a public watchdog to make certain that the park administration acts legally and openly.»
During the forum in Kiev a picket is going to be organized to call for conservation of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, representatives of Belarusian ecological organizations at the conference told BelaPAN.
Valentina KOZLOVICH, BelaPAN News Agency
May 21, 2003
Can European Ministers save Belovezhskaya Pushcha?
The Coalition of Belarusian Non-governmental
Organizations (NGO) for Belovezhskaya Pushcha Conservation, the Ukrainian NGO Coalition for Wild Nature Protection and «Forest Campaign» of the International Socio-ecological Union have appealed in Kiev today to the public and the Ministers of Natural Resources and Environment Protection of the countries, members of the 5th Pan-European
conference «Environment for Europe» to draw their attention to violations of the law in the National Park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha» (Belarus).
An appeal to help save Belovezhskaya Pushcha's unique primeval forests
The Belarusian government has been recently declaring its adherence to the principles set by the «Environment for Europe» conference, as well as attempts to contribute to realization of the Aarhus convention principles. In reality, though, such declarations are not always true. The National Park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha» is one of such cases. Over the last years it has been exposed to uncontrolled, intensive, sometimes even barbaric nature management, which replaced conservation and is drastically threatening the biodiversity in this unique wilderness area. The National Park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha» (its wilderness protection zone), which was included on the World Heritage List in 1992, awarded a Diploma of the European Council in 1997 and is granted Biosphere Reserve, owing to the present National Park administration is gradually becoming an ordinary timber enterprise.
In 1994 Belovezhskaya Pushcha was taken over by the Property Managment Department of the President. A new National Park administration had nothing to do with wilderness or wildlife protection in the past. It looked upon Belovezhskaya Pushcha's forests differently, first of all, considering their economic potential. That is why the National Park began to be too commercialized.
Today the administration of the National Park, with major aim to conserve Belovezhskaya Pushcha's primeval forest, embarked on a large-scale logging of this forest under pretences of fighting the bark beetle and removing wind-fallen trees. The unique forest is consequently replaced by man-made
forest plantations which comply but with forestry regulations. Even old-aged
living trees and permanent scientific plots intended for research and forest monitoring are being logged. The changes taking place in primeval forests of Belovezhskaya Pushcha are fatal. Pushcha is loosing its unique wildlife, becoming just another «afforested» area. One can save these primeval forests if felling is limited, regulations developed for preserves are kept to and the whole wilderness protection zone, enlarged to at least 50 per cent of the whole area of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, becomes a World Heritage Site. This question, though, is not even discussed today.
There was a new timber mill built in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, and the administration bought expensive high-capacity wood-processing equipment which requires a lot of high-quality wood. Commercial hunting is a regular thing. The law governing environment protection is grossly violated. There are massive dismissals of old-time
specialists. Local people, who are against the actions of the National Park administration are being oppressed, persecuted and intimidated. Their basic rights and freedoms are being violated. Hundreds of dismissed local workers are being replaced by temporarily employed people who are indifferent to Belovezhskaya Pushcha.
Over the last several years Belarusian public organizations have been trying to influence many authorities to stop the destruction of this Primeval Forest. The question of developing and adopting the National Park Regulations has been raised time and again for almost 11 years. The National Park administration responded to it by literally making its activities secret, the information on its work unavailable and an independent public ecological examination restricted. That provides one more proof of illegal and unfair actions of the administration and is evidence that the work of the administration does not comply with an ecosystem preserve status given to the National Park. If that were not so, what would the administration be afraid of? Despite the international campaign for conservation of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, Belarus' government has not changed its environmental and social policies. Destructive massive logging of Belovezhskaya Pushcha's primeval forests has not been stopped. Furthermore, new violations are springing up: the area of the National Park is being reconstructed, with new water reservoirs built and forest destroyed in the reserved sectors of Belovezhskaya Pushcha without any ecological examination.
We ask You to help stop the logging of the primeval forests and stop all activities leading to destruction of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, as well as to assist in creating a public watchdog to make certain that the park administration acts legally and openly.
The Coalition of Belarusian Non-governmental
Organizations (NGO) for Belovezhskaya Pushcha Conservation The Ukrainian NGO Coalition for Wild Nature Protection
«Forest Campaign» of the International Socio-ecological Union
May 16, 2003
«Vecherniy Minsk» (The Evening Minsk), #105
Borka, wild boar — pet of border guards
Bison, wild boars, deer, squirrels and other animals can often be seen at Belarusian and Polish border crossings in the area of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. A year ago border guards at the «Kamenyuki» border check point found a wild piglet which had strayed from its herd. Named Borka, it is now the pet of children and adults.
May 07, 2003
The Yan Cherski Association of Belarusian Culture in Irkutsk
(Russia) and the Baikal Ecological Wave expressed their support for the campaign to protect Belovezhskaya Pushcha. The association's newspaper 'Malanka' published an article «The last breath of Belovezhskaya Pushcha». An article about Pushcha was also printed in the 32nd issue of the «Wave» magazine. Both of the organizations have already sent their letters to the Belarusian President in which they appeal to end logging in Belovezhskaya Pushcha.