NEWS ARCHIVE: MAY 2004

May 31, 2004 Website "ByBanner" Unified website on Belovezhskaya Pushcha needs $70,000

Press-service of the President of the Republic of Belarus

The Polish National Park "Bialowieza" put forward an idea for its Belarusian partner of a unified Internet project for popularization of scientific and tourist potential of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, Igor Romanyuk, research employee of the Belarusian National Park 'Belovezhskaya Pushcha', said to Interfax news agency.

According to I.Romanyuk, only separate articles on Belovezhskaya Pushcha can be found in cyberspace now and the situation shows a need to create a high-grade illustrated website containing advertising and encyclopedic materials, which would be accessible to any Internet user. The new project will feature electronic maps with indication of tourist routes, their length and location of sites potentially interesting for tourists. Besides, the electronic maps will contain illustrations of plants, animals and birds which populate one or another site of the Reserve. Characteristics of certain forest stands will also include the inventory data on plants growing in the forest, water sources and people's settlements. The materials on the site will come complete with satellite photos. "This is a very effective way of popularizing reserves as objects of both cultural and scientific potential," I.Romanyuk supposes.

He informed that 50-70 thousand US dollars are necessary for this project. "Our Polish colleagues have already begun to look for funds. The Council of Europe is expected to contribute much of them as it is this organization that is funding the similar project in Tatranski National Park," he said. According to preliminary agreements, this Internet project will be published on the website of the Polish National Park "Bialowieza".

BelNET News Agency
How much dollars does unified website on Belovezhskaya Pushcha need?

In our opinion this news is of special attention, as the creation of an encyclopedic website devoted to specially protected natural areas, in particular to Belovezhskaya Pushcha, is certainly great progress towards popularization of its preservation, especially so as a lot of scientific data on Belovezhskaya Pushcha, particularly its Polish part, has been gathered over decades. It is also important since the reserve and national parks in Belarus have not had even small-sized websites of their own until now. As for the unified Internet resource, it is going to be not just a website, but a whole encyclopedia, and what is more, of the transboundary protected area. Taking into account that the Polish party suggested the idea and execution of this project, one can rest assured of the project's success. The sum of required money - 50-70 thousand dollars - is also impressive. Websites usually cost twenty times cheaper.

With this comment we also want to draw your attention to the following fact. Mr Romanyuk officially declared that "only separate articles on Belovezhskaya Pushcha can be found in cyberspace now." But what about the website "Belovezhskaya Pushcha - 21st century" with the size of approximately 45 megabytes, with materials on the history and biological inventory of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, a selection of publications and news covering the events of the last 4 years, legislative documents, photo gallery as well as many other information collected together? In view of that, Mr Romanyuk's declaration was, to put in mildly, disinformation and another attempt to mislead the public. By the way, government-sponsored distortion or hushing up of information on a particular undertaking in our country often speaks of its success. Therefore our Initiative group thanks Mr Romanyuk for this high assessment of our work. BelNET news agency does not specify what post Mr Romanyuk occupies. But if he officially gave an interview on behalf of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha", he may be directly linked to its administration. And if Mr Romanyuk talked about details of the project, he knew the situation. That means he was well aware of the website "Belovezhskaya Pushcha - 21st Century" as a large, integral, versatile and illustrated source of information on Belovezhskaya Pushcha. That means he consciously lied. Unfortunately, falsehood of the administration of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" has become a common thing over the past years. The administration has been using it as a main tool for covering up its shady and unprofessional dealings. We shall leave Mr Romanyuk's lie for his conscience this time. The only sad thing is that the Polish partners and financial donors were misinformed at the beginning of the project. No democracy favours such behavior.

After all, we deal with the unique nature of Belovezhskaya Pushcha and it is good to remember that all components of nature are counterbalanced like minus and plus. To any negative developments Nature reacts with a shift to something positive, something which helps avoid the negative energy. If that were not so, life on the planet Earth would have already long vanished.

The Website "Belovezhskaya Pushcha - 21st Century" News Service
June 06, 2004
May 22, 2004 "Zvyazda" (The Star) Newspaper, N126 (25139) Bikers head for Belovezhskaya Pushcha

The fourth international bike-festival «Brest-2004» promises to be a great holiday for bikers. Almost a thousand of people from Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and other countries confirmed their participation in it. Bikers will also visit Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

Yana SVETOVA
May 22, 2004 "Respublika" (The Republic) Newspaper, N94 (3534) Better conditions for people and animals

The area of the Reserve "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" has been enlarged by one third and is now 161,000 hectares. The National Park has received inefficiently used land of nearby-lying collective farms and some forest areas belonging to forest enterprises of the Brest and Grodno regions. This move is supposed to solve some problems of Pushcha. Some species of wild animals which are too numerous in the reserved forest will be settled in the new areas, with specific plants also cultivated as animal feed. Besides, the administration of the Reserve will have to think about people. It will have to provide for social care of all inhabitants living in the area, which formerly belonged to the collective farm 'Pogranichnik' (Grodno region) and has now been joined to the National Park.

Fedor FEDOROV
May 17, 2004 Website News Service To revive Belovezhskaya Pushcha means to annihilate rare plants

For two years now the areas in Belovezhskaya Pushcha affected by bark beetle or hurricanes have been artificially afforested by tractors ploughing planting furrows in the ground, the way forest enterprises do (go for details to "Photo-fact" and click "Artificial planting at sites on which the primeval forest was cleared (Spring 2003)"). It is noteworthy that a negative impact this technology has on the environment, as well as the fact that this man-made plantations will not look like a natural and reserved forest are not considered in the National Park. Moreover, one does not take into account the area's status of wilderness protection and even permanent scientific plots for forest monitoring, which have served the science in the Reserve as models of natural processes for 30-40 years, are affected. On the whole, such plantations do the reserved forest of Belovezhskaya Pushcha more harm than good. In its time a special programme on reforestation was drawn up with procedural infringements (the programme was not even discussed at a Scientific Council meeting) and in July 2003 the parliament's committee on inspection of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" drew the appropriate conclusion.

Naturally, these large-scale plantations need a lot of seedlings. For this purpose in 2001 a tree nursery was set up on about 2 hectares in one of the beautiful sites at the heart of Belovezhskaya Pushcha - the former bison nursery, where bison were reared after the Second World War. Mixed old-age oak forest grows there. After the war the site was partly cleared to allow the grass vegetation to catch more light and increase natural food base for bison. As a result, a unique ecosystem (oak forest with various grasses) was generated there, providing a home for many plants which are in the Red Book of Belarus. Today it is the richest site in Belovezhskaya Pushcha in terms of rare plant species' number and diversity. Among the species which grow there and are listed in the Red Book of Belarus are the European globe-flower, the mountain arnica, the tiled gladiolus, the chestnut clover and other species which are under first category protection. There are also species which are recommended for preventive protection (that is they may become rare and vanishing): the finger-flower, the smooth lathyrus, the meadow-rue, the columbine, some species of bellflowers, etc. Some of these rare species constitute glades full of flowers on this small area like, for example, the globe-flower / the Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium calceolus).

It is important to know that many of these rare plant species in Belovezhskaya Pushcha are drastically endangered because of strong anthropogenic influence. This is why their preservation is of great priority in Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

In addition to that, the main tourist route runs across this place and tourists use it to see giant trees all year round (or Father Frost / Santa Clause and bison in winter).

The place for the tree nursery was so ostensibly chosen as not to affect rare plants. However, when the land there was cultivated for seedlings, rhizomes of many rare plants were ploughed in and thrown out... Despite a high value of this area for rare plants' preservation, it has been recently reported that the nursery's area has been doubled in size this year! Some managers say that a lot of oak and pine seedlings are necessary to create . artificial forest mono-plantations in the unique protected area of Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

One can only imagine how many rare plants died while enlarging the tree nursery. It is especially surprising as hundreds hectares of forest have been damaged by the spruce bark beetle infestation and hurricanes over the last years. There is a lot of space for making tree nurseries anywhere else, yet the nursery was located at the place where it will do the greatest harm to biodiversity of the protected forest. Even more surprising is the fact that only three botanical researchers are now in the research department of the National Park. Anna Dengubenko, deputy director in charge of science, head of the research department and Philosophy Doctor of Biology, who dedicated more than ten years of her life to rare plants' studies and has many publications on their preservation, is among them. How come it happens "in broad daylight" and what is it? Is it total neglect of the science by the administration of the National Park and transforming it into some kind of a tool to cover the economic activity? Or is it readiness of the research department head to sacrifice the biological value, which has been studied for many years, for the sake of personal momentary benefit? But then what about the priority of the National Park - biodiversity conservation? Why do rare plants have status of specially protected species, even more so, in the specially protected area?
May 10-17, 2004 "Belorusskiy Rynok" (The Byelorussian Market) Newspaper, N18(602) Meeting in Viskuly: 13 years after

A meeting of the intelligentsia from Belarus, Ukraine and Russia is going to take place in Belovezhskaya Pushcha's Viskuly - a place where the leaders of these three countries decided to dismantle the USSR 13 years ago. Now the intellectuals want to review how the countries developed in the post soviet period. Former chairman of the Supreme Soviet of Belarus Stanislav Shushkevich and ex-president of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk are carrying on negotiations with former president of Russia Boris Eltsyn. The tripartite meeting of the intelligentsia is rescheduled for the end of May.

Yuri OREHOV