NEWS ARCHIVE: May 2005

May 31, 2005 "Sovetskaya Byelorussia" (The Soviet Byelorussia) Newspaper, No 101 Village will be revived. Surely!
The speech of the President at an away republican seminar on realization of the State program of revival and development of rural area for 2005 - 2010, Drogichin town


We need to restore and to put in normal order over two millions hectares of meliorated and water-used systems, to introduce an optimum structure of areas under crops there and to increase efficiency of arable meliorated lands to get on average about 55 centners of fodder units per hectare in the country. We already have started the large-scale melioration. This is one of the directions of the state program which we have ratified. We will finance it. This is a state business. We will revive those enterprises which were engaged and will be engaged in melioration. But in those areas where we carried out it we will make the heads of enterprises strongly responsible for operation of these channels, systems and fields. At least you already know me well; I will not allow lands that were restored in my day to be covered by weeds and trees. This, by the way, is available on your channels. Now we will uproot all.

In addition, conducting melioration, I will ask you do not hurry to go into a bog where even tractor cannot pass. Let's restore lands that are very possible today. Small money will bring effect. However a squabble was started on a field near Belovezhskaya Pushcha. If it is possible to wait a little, let's delay. If it is impossible, I answered to them, let's meliorate if it was done there at one time. The main is, as a head of our enterprise said here, the availability of bilateral process. If necessary - close a pipe and increase water level. If necessary to decrease - decrease. I mean if we can wait a little somewhere, I will be repeating, - delay. You see today all lands are necessary to meliorate, it is possible to say, from the beginning. Invest money where we will obtain a greatest effect. As to lands where bushes are already growing, so you at least try to cut down it in dry period and to plough up that to avoid the full covering fields by weeds. In Gomel, Brest, Mogilyov, Vitebsk and Minsk regions, where melioration is conducted, this problem is present. But do not wait money to do it. It's your business.

Implementing these works, it is necessary to take into account both natural and economic features of each region of the country. Therefore the area of Belarusian Polesie should be of priority in the frame of melioration. Not less 1.3 million tons of milk and not less 250,000 tons of meat is necessity to be produced in this area. This land and these people are capable to reach upon such parameters.

The only fragment of the speech of the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko devoted to melioration and Belovezhskaya Pushcha is put here. The reference by the Website News Service "BP - 21 Centuries"
May 31, 2005 "Website News Service" Dilemma in Belovezhskaya Pushcha: Silver Fir or drainage channels
or why the administration of the National Park does not keep the situation under control


In 2004, the territory of Belovezhskaya Pushcha was considerably extended due to joining over 40,000 hectares of lands of collective farms and timber enterprises located in the Buffer zone. Currently it makes approximately 167,000 hectares as a total. Despite the fact that some lawful owners namely state timber enterprises were disagreed with such the decision because they invested considerable means to serve these areas (Valeriy Vysotzkiy, "Hunting for more.", The Byelorussian Newspaper, 2003-02-03), the lands were joined after a strong-willed decision of appropriate high-ranked state departments. One of the reasons of such the expansion announced in its substantiation was, we quote the "Evening Minsk" newspaper on June 10, 2004, "the experts [of the Park] will try to improve a situation and to restore water level".

A year has passed. What do we see after the expiration of this period? How well was this task executed?

At the end of April of 2005, in the ATN program, the reporter of the Belarusian TV Svetlana Vechorko reported a problem called "Dilemma in Belovezhskaya Pushcha: a silver fir or drainage channels" and tried to clarify whether the water-level change works threaten the unique trees. Simultaneously TV-frames with excavators and bulldozers that reconstructed old drainage systems on agricultural lands within the Buffer zone closely adjacent to the Reserve and belonging to recently renamed collective farms had been demonstrating all over the country. For viewers, the panoramic shooting showed an area of tens-hundreds hectares where drainage channels have already been dug out (cleared) while excavators have been coming to the borders of Belovezhskaya Pushcha near the unique site where lowland relic silver fir trees grow, the only in Belarus and Europe. By the way, this site was a part of the strictly reserved zone until recently. For today only twenty reproduced silver fir trees have been saved here which, the reporter said, "are carefully preserved by scientists". It is right. Anna Dengubenko, deputy director on science of the National Park, said in the interview that the drainage works "will inevitably affect the whole territory of Pushcha and its adjacent area. There is also a problem related to spruce bark beetle which infected spruce forests. That is discussed and written very much about. If the water level will further decrease down, this problem will be only aggravating".

But experts in land improvement, it is necessary to think, are indifferent both to silver fir and preservation of spruce woods. They follow the corporative objectives. Coming back to the lands abandon for forty years they started with enthusiasm to implement a "food program". Local agricultural enterprises are interested of these jobs for the next reason - from 50 to 100 percents of the lands owned by eight agricultural enterprises of the Pruzhany district and located in the Buffer zone belong to the drainage ones.

General director of the State Enterprise "Brestmeliovodhoz" (Brest Melioration Enterprise) Nickolai Klimovich said in TV interview that "experts in land improvement have a document called "Conclusion of ecological examination". This document specified the fact that the measures on drainage do not render essential influence to environment of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Therefore using this conclusion as a base, the Project-Planning Institute "Polessie Hyprovodhoz" began the preparation of project documentation to meliorate lands in the Buffer zone of the National Park". For the reference, apparently it's talking about a certain conclusion signed by a representative of the administration of Belovezhskaya Pushcha in 1997 and made either under misunderstanding, or under pressure. In that time an attempt of reconstruction of some drainage systems nearby the borders of the reserve was also undertaken.

None the less, the experts from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection who came to Kamenyuki to discuss the arisen problem made more cautious estimations regarding the situation. Vitaliy Khorenchuk, leading expert of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection of the Republic of Belarus, said that "today the situation has to be once again reconsidered. It is impossible to accept any decisions and to make any conclusions on the ground of scientific conclusion of 1997". The reporter of the Belarusian TV supported this idea "one of the items of the President's decree about Belovezhskaya Pushcha issued in September of the last year is also in favour of this opinion. Under its treaty, economic activity which can negatively affect natural complexes of Belovezhskaya Pushcha is forbidden". Then Vasiliy Sudas, Deputy Manager of the Property Management Department of the President of the Republic of Belarus said "I make decision for all to hold an extraordinary session of the scientific and technical council and to invite scientists who deal with different disciplines. The final say should be rest with the scientists. They must prove to us how to further rule this situation because looking to the small we cannot see the large". Summarizing, the reporter of the Belarusian TV Svetlana Vechorko concluded that "the participants of the meeting unanimously supported the following thing - economic benefit should be stayed in the background giving priority of uniqueness of the site".

It can seem to a viewer inexperienced with local businesses that the conflict is settled - all will be in order and Belovezhskaya Pushcha will not suffer. This is because the National Park's administration and research workers, experts of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection, and even the caring about the Belarusian reserves and national parks Property Management Department of the President which owns these reserves and parks rose the initiative to protect Belovezhskaya Pushcha before the specialists in land improvement were managed to finish its "black" business related to Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

However we will not hurry up and will state an elementary question - how could it happen under the "vigilant" control of the administration of the National Park and the Property Management Department on the whole that the experts in land improvement avoiding coordination and sanctions of the administration of Belovezhskaya Pushcha already conducted excavation works on the big area, no matter to mention that they started these works. And why the "careful owners" of Belovezhskaya Pushcha remembered suddenly only in case when these works were expended with full power? The moving excavators and bulldozers in the TV frame and in the witness of different kinds of chiefs and heads who, in accordance with their official duties, should save Belovezhskaya Pushcha can be considered the proof of the above statement. Where have these chiefs who so much "care" of preservation of Belovezhskaya Pushcha in the TV frames been earlier? Maybe have local inhabitants fine understanding the true situation, instead of these chiefs, forwarded a signal "SOS" to TV?

According to the Decree of the President, the fact of "economic activity which can negatively affect natural complexes of Belovezhskaya Pushcha is forbidden" is discussible in itself (it is necessary to prove yet about the kind of activity negatively influencing). Instead of this, the Law of the Republic of Belarus "On especially protected natural areas" ratified on May 23, 2000, directly treats of "Borders of buffer zones of especially protected natural areas are defined . under the rule of impossibility of the negative influence of economic activity . to natural complexes and sites located within the especially protected natural area which can result in violation and degradation of these natural complexes and sites" and "Landowners and land-renters who own land areas within the borders of buffer zones of especially protected natural areas are obliged to follow the rules established for buffer zones".

If it is so why the administration of Belovezhskaya Pushcha made the ostentatious "TV-care" after tens-hundreds of hectares are already under drainage in the buffer zone? And where were those attempts "to improve a situation and to restore a water level" advertised for case of joining new lands? It turns out those were only good words while in fact there is a lack of any improvement of protection of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. If there is no progress of control within this area why was incorporation of new lands into the National Park made? Was there done it to make an extra-gigantic structure of the Park and to attempt strengthening the already very powerful monopoly of the administration of the National Park in the region for the purpose of supervising more natural, material and financial resources?

In any case, the answer to these questions is very simple. In the light of scandalous exposures of the administration of the National Park which infringed legislation and provided illegal activity within the territory of Belovezhskaya Pushcha during the last years, the incident regarding the uncontrollable water-level change works nearby the borders of the National Park can be used once again as a testimony of insufficient professional and business competence of those who today manages Belovezhskaya Pushcha and takes responsibility to preserve it.
May 27, 2005 "Minski Kuryer" (The Minsk Courier) Newspaper, 630 An avenue of relic trees

A relic avenue of the silver fir has become under protection of the Belarusian scientists. A unique natural population of this species had been saved in the Belarusian part of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. This forest stand is of essential importance regarding restoration of European primary natural lowland woods.

The avenue consists of twenty trees; each of them was genetically investigated by scientists. These investigations enable to reproduce this population both in and out the national park as they allow monitoring a genetic structure of seeds.

Now an abundant young generation of this tree has grown up in the avenue. However wild animals put damage to young plants therefore the forest stand was protected with a fence and illumination was set up to stimulate the best growth of young trees.

Nadezhda KORZUK

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Comment of the expert

This notice published in the newspaper, unfortunately, grows out of too easy and free interpretation of the well-known facts by the journalist. Apparently, reportage about commenced water-level change works in the buffer zone of the National Park shown approximately a month ago on the Belarusian TV was used as an informational base to prepare this notice. But the author of the note omitted information about drainage works and left only data concerning the silver fir. As a result, many obvious and serious mistakes were made in the notice.

In particular, the silver fir thicket (instead of the avenue) is under protection of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha", instead of Belarusian scientists. Moreover, it become under protection neither today, nor yesterday, whereas more than ten years ago when this site was covered by strict protection regime. At that time, instead of present times, this site was fenced to protect from wild animals therefore young generation of the silver fir is quite enough "adult". It is the true fact that young fir trees being shaded under the canopy of tall trees got a week grows. However anyone did not set up illumination (it is necessary to understand by electrical bulbs!?) there. Young spruce and hornbeam trees were selectively felled a few years ago to increase the solar light accessible to a surface of ground and, hence, to the fir trees. As a whole, the population of the silver fir is characterized by satisfactory condition now although a threat of its loss owing to small number of adult trees still remains. In our opinion, the staff of the National Park provided and continues to provide measures necessary for preservation of the silver fir, although there were made a number of mistakes (in particular, planting some dozens of trees in too dry and unsuitable spots, making tree plantations in lines). The population of the silver fir requires the further careful monitoring and measures on its preservation. Now uncontrollable water-level change works executed near this site is a greatest threat for relic thicket of the silver fir.

Heorhi Kazulka,
Ph. Dr. of Biology, Belovezhskaya Pushcha,
Specially for the News section of the website
May 25, 2005 "Vecherniy Minsk" (The Evening Minsk) Newspaper, No 116 A national ecological network to be extended

The Biodiversity International Day proclaimed by an UN General Assembly celebrates the fifth year on May 22 (earlier its celebration dated on December 29).

The UN Conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 has highlighted a problem of preservation of diversity of live species, ecosystems and landscapes which disappearance is connected first of all with human activity and has attracted attention of a public all over the world.

Today 182 of 194 countries of the world are Parties of the Convention on Biodiversity. Belarus ratified the Convention in 1993. To achieve the purposes of the Convention our country improves nature protection legislation connected to preservation of biodiversity. Some legislative bills have been already approved while bills on safety in the gene-engineering field and on treatment to animals, a new text of the Law "On Fauna" and others are under preparation.

A national ecological network is set up in Belarus, head of the department of the wilderness protection of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection Andrei Goldenkov told at a recent press conference. There are one Reserve (Berezinski Biosphere Reserve), four national parks ("Belovezhskaya Pushcha", "Pripyatski", "Braslav Lakes", "Narochanski"), ninety seven national reserves with partial protection's regime, four hundred forty six local reserves with partial protection's regime and nine hundred ten natural monuments of national and local scale. The total size of especially protected areas makes 1,636,500 hectares or 7.9 percents of the whole area of Belarus. A network of especially protected natural areas of international importance targeted to preserve biodiversity is also created in the country.

Today in our country, 2,358 sites where 355 species of rare animals and plants listed in the Red Data Book of Belarus habits these sites are under protection.

A number of joint projects are implemented in the framework of international cooperation between the Ministry and foreign nature protection organizations.

In Belarus, a national system of biosafety is developed and a system of cooperation between states for information exchange is created.

Elena Antonova