NEWS ARCIVE: MAY 2007

May 25, 2007 Website "the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"" A desktop book for "bison"

At the meeting of the Scientific and Technical Council hold in the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" in April, scientists have noted a great contribution to development of natural sciences made by Alexei Bunevich, a scientific employee of the Nature Protection Institution. His work on bison in the framework of the PhD thesis pretends to "a status" not only a theoretical but also a scientifically practical manual for experts in the field of bison, as well as ecologists and foresters, the academician Victor Parfenov has told.

After successful defense of the thesis this spring, PhD in Biology Alexei Bunevich in co-authorship with Petr Kozlo, Professor of Biology and a head of the Laboratory of Mammals of the Institute of Zoology, have issued a brochure in which they give recommendations on keeping, reproduction and protection of a population of bison.

The manual is intended for scientists and employees of reserves, national parks and forest-game-hunting and game-hunting grounds. The manual generalizes data gathered by authors in different regions of Belarus where forest giants live, however researches mainly concern of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. This desktop book is important for experts how to produce healthy and high-efficiency posterity of this rare species of mammals.

The problem is that, except for the National Park, more six specialized centres on reproduction and keeping the bison population are engaged in dealing with these animals. Belarus is the second country in the world regarding the number of bison. This result was achieved due to development of the National Program "Bison" on reproduction and due to protection of wild ungulates and big work conducted by the staff of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" on preservation and protection of this species.

Petr Kozlo is an author of the project under the name "Preservation and protection of Bialowieza bison" in the framework of the program which was awarded with a diploma and a premium of the Fund "European premiums for preservation of cultural heritage and environment", together from the UNESCO's Centre of World Heritage Sites and the European Council.

Authors hope that this methodical manual will contribute professionally to carrying out supervision and providing monitoring for bison, as well as conducting work on selection of bison. The population should be healthy, while old, sick and defective animals should be eliminated, scientists unequivocally assert, as keeping such kind of bison is not expedient for practical purposes. They are necessary as numerous as they will not bring harm to a forest. Regarding their value as relics of ancient nature and as unique exhibits of fauna, this purpose justifies keeping forest giants.

The Pushcha was kept thanks to bison. A human has helped and is now helping them to survive in the winter period, the most difficult for them. However, all attempts to interbreed bison with home animals conducted originally in Poland and then in Russia, that to get practical benefit, have gained no further development. The work on selection to produce a hybrid between bison and cow is not only connected with big financial expenses. No one have had the courage to put reproduction of hybrids in industrial scales that to fill up the country with meat. One of the constraining factors of their breeding and keeping is aggression of animals as a result of crossing. Although selectors says about a delicate taste of meat, stability to diseases and unpretentiousness when the keeping hybrids, however, not all things should probably be measured by practical benefit. There is also the aesthetic side. It is difficult to imagine that the symbol of the Pushcha will have relatives in the shape of something between a cow and a bull.

Having left polemic on this question to readers, we will note that "bison" from the science elaborate a program on long-term preservation of forest giants in such form as nature of Belovezhskaya Pushcha presented them to us.

T. Skuratova, the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"
Phone: (01631) 56-396.
May 22, 2007 "Sovetskaya Byelorussia" (The Soviet Byelorussia) Newspaper, No 91 Aren’t oaks sorcerers?

An International Day of Biodiversity is today and one shall urgently go to Pushcha that ... to pick acorns of red oak (Quercus rubra). What for? Bird cherry (Prunus racemosa) and oak which in the National Park got too numerous last years threaten to its natural uniqueness. This statement was recently declared by Polish scientists. Our ones have agreed.

Invasion plants, that means alien ones came from abroad, really prevent development natural fauna and flora, Alexander Pugachevskiy, deputy director on science of the Institute of Experimental Botany of the National Academy of Sciences, confirms. In Belovezhskaya Pushcha there are about 120 species like these. Some of them, for example, red oak very easily suppress all other species. Therefore it's quite possible that Latin American, African and other "plant-foreigners" will soon dominate in our Pushcha.

How to fight the "invasion"? To pick acorns, certainly, is frivolous. Experts assert that red oak trees should be cut down. But nature protection legislation forbids doing it in the national park. Ecologists have addressed to the Ministerial Council as they seriously decided to organize "defenses".

What's more to still threaten to biodiversity? Ornithologists consider that's spring hunting.

This is a bad business when about two thousand drakes are shot in the area of one square kilometer only for one morning, Alexander Kozulin, a leading researcher of the Institute of Zoology of the National Academy of Sciences, is indignant. - And then in autumn hunters are surprised where ducks disappeared. I consider that spring hunting should immediately be forbidden.

The situation around the development of the state program "Peat" also causes fears of ecologists. Experts are bewaring of a trouble which can be from planned tendency to make industrial activity dominant. It will be inexcusable to go into river water twice, that means to repeat mistakes made in the past when drainage works were conducted. Of course, importance of the program is beyond doubt. However, ecological and natural aspects, not only economic ones, should be taken into account first of all when its elaboration.

Nikolai KOZLOVICH
May 19, 2007 "Komsomolskaya Pravda v Belarusi" (The Komsomol Truth in Belarus) Newspaper Bison can be hunted in Belarus paying 2,000 to 8,000 Euros

The legendary animal in Belarusian forests became more numerous than their optimum amount.

Every pupil knows that bison is a threatened animal listed into a Red Data Book of Belarus. It turns out that artificial breeding of kings of the Pushcha resulted in their number which is bigger than our forest can support.

The optimum number of bison for our country - 500 to 600 animals - was fixed by scientists, Marina Grishchenko, a senior expert of the Department of Wilderness Protection at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection, explains. According to the data by the beginning of 2007, we total 730 animals. This means nearly fifty animals extra than last year! This is a maximum record of the number of bison for thirty years. When a first edition of the Red Data Book was issued in 1979, bison in Belarus had already a critically little amount. We have bought animals in Poland and have artificially restored the population. Bison are now divided into two groups - animals of the basic gene fond (hunting for them is forbidden as they are listed in the Red Data Book) and the reserved gene fond (they are allowed for hunting). The groups differ in places of their habitats. The basic gene fond inhabits reserves and national parks, while the reserved gene fond lives in hunting grounds and nearby. However, new rules on using bison are just now under preparation and we insist on new criterions of distinction. This touches the reserve gene fond which is allowed for hunting to attribute old, sick and injured animals uninteresting for selection.

Each man, both a Belarusian and a foreigner, can get a hunting license for shooting bison. However, the official price is 2,000 to 8,000 Euros including the cost of a trophy and foreign hunters therefore are basically engaged in shooting. By the way, bison from the reserved gene fund are allowed, according to the legislation, to take out the country. Prices are caused by economic expedience because it's dearly to keep bison. If the wishing to hunt bison is absent, our experts will shoot them. However, people wishing are still enough. Last year 12 licenses for shooting bison were given and 9 hunts (3 of them were broken for any reasons) were conducted. Natural death of bison is certainly three times more.

To get the license for hunting bison, a claim should be written and addressed to owners of grounds - to Belovezhskaya Pushcha, to the Berezinski Biosphere Reserve and to the Pripyatski National Park. Each claim is under consideration by a commission with participation of a representative of the Institute of Zoology. The commision will then draw up a document while the Nature Protection's Ministry will decide whether to give the sanction for shooting or not.

Kseniya NOVOZHILOVA
May 18, 2007 Website "Naviny.by" A problem of distribution of alien and harmful plants in Belarus

Alexander Pugachevskiy, a leading researcher of the Vasiliy Kuprevich Institute of Experimental Botany of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus has paid attention to a problem of distribution of alien and harmful plants in the country. "Only in Belovezhskaya Pushcha over 120 species of trees and bushes which are not characteristic of flora of the unique forest are registered", Alexander Pugachevskiy has noted. He said that scientists have prepared an appropriate paper to the government with offers on prevention of distribution of these kinds of plants.
May 18, 2007 Website "Ecoportal" Belarusian reserves are threatened with African plants

Alexander Pugachevskiy, a deputy director of the Institute of Experimental Botany of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, has informed during a press conference that Belovezhskaya Pushcha are threatened with American, African and South-European plants. "Flora of Belovezhskaya Pushcha will soon cease to be primordial", Alexander Pugachevskiy has declared. The similar situation also occures in the Berezinski Reserve.

"Now there is a problem of struggle with foreign plants in Belovezhskaya Pushcha because, according to the relevant legislation, it is impossible to cut down any plants in the Pushcha, with the exception of dead wood", the deputy director of the Institute of Experimental Botany has told.

"The similar situation has also developed in the Berezinski Biosphere Reserve where an umbellate delivered in Belarus as a plant for silage has widely spread", the representative of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus has specified.

Telegraf.by
May 15, 2007 "Sovetskaya Byelorussia" (The Soviet Byelorussia) Newspaper, No 86 Tears of a red deer

A woman-forester is suspected of an illegal hunt.

One of these days a prosecutor office of the Kamenetz district has instituted proceedings under the clause of the Criminal Code "Illegal hunting" for the fact of unlicensed shooting a female of red deer and wild boar in the Korolevo-Mostovskoe forest area of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. The suspected are a married couple (a husband and a wife) from the village of Lyadskie...

"The married couple (the husband is a forester, the wife also was a forester before maternity leave) tell that when they drove in a car through the forest at the night a red deer crossed a road, then a wild boar run out. They began to shoot and killed of both animals. It is not clear who of the couple shot", Andrei Rusin, an employee of the Department of Information and Public Connections at the Office of Internal Affairs of the Brest Executive Committee, has told to me.

In some days militia got known about the illegal hunting in the National Park. Meat of the game, dug skins of animals, two hunting guns registered and not registered, cartridges... The damage is estimated 14,400,000 million Roubles (~ 7,000 US $).

Valentina Kozlovich
May 14, 2007 Website "Charter'97" Shooting sick and old bison is in Belarus under permission

Hunting for bison is permitted in Belarus in order to create a healthy population of these animals, Vutaliy Korenchuk, a representative of the Belarusian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection, informed "Interfax" News Agency.

As he said, it is permitted to shoot only sick and old bison. The sanction to permit shooting is accepted by a special commission. The decision is made considering separately each animal.

Bison now totals 730 in Belarus. This species is listed in a Red Data Book. A sanction to shoot one bison costs about 8,000 to 10,000 Euros. "The most often hunters to shoot bison come from Europe", the Belarusian official informed.

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BP-21 Century website editor's note

"Hunting for bison is permitted in Belarus….". This statement sounds, at least, strange, as in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, for example, shooting sick and old bison are conducted already for nearly 20 years. The Belarusian lawyer-ecologist Grigoriy Fedorov has informed that the decision of the Ministerial Council concerning the sanction on hunting bison appeared on April 21, 1999. Grigoriy Fedorov considers that firstly this is not news because this is some sort of hidden advertising. It says come visitors, hunters with currency to get safari for bison! Other Belarusian ecologist Eugeniy Shirokov added that "go to any international exhibition in Minsk, find a stand of "experimental" game-hunting enterprises at national parks and reserves (!) and look at a price-list - there is even a price to shoot a bison calf there, not mention an adult bison."

Heorhi Kazulka
BP-21 Century website editor
May 05, 2007 Website "TUT.BY" The National Park "Braslav Lakes" will pay to a citizen Br 2,7 million for crops destroyed by wild boars

The board on civil affairs at the Vitebsk regional court has left a decision of the Braslav district's court unchanged that the National Park "Braslav Lakes" should compensate damage at a rate of Br 2,7 million (~ 1,300 US $) to an inhabitant of the Braslav district.

This sum was estimated as the damage which was brought to the inhabitant of the village of Kryukovshchaina by wild boars. Animals live in the protected area and destroyed potato crops. The decision of the court of first instance has come into lawful force, but it can be appealed against by the defendant.

Nikolai Vashkel, a chairman of the court of the Braslav district, informed the BelTA Information Agency that this is the second suit on compensation of damage for destruction of crops made by wild animals living in hunting lands of the National Park. First action was in favour of the Park because the plaintiff has not undertaken measures recommended for protection of his kitchen-garden.

Wild boars damage not only private farms in the Braslav district but also collective ones. According to a special commission created at the District Executive Committee, last year these animals have destroyed more than 6,000 hectares of crops of agricultural enterprises of the district and have brought damage to the district's economy in the sum of more than Br 2 billion. The commission made more than 200 reports about damage of crops. 71 complaints were sent to the Executive Committee where the citizens demanded to introduce order over the inventory and the number of animals in the Braslav Lakes National Park. According to data of the district special commission, the number of wild boars in hunting lands rented by the National Park exceeds three to four times the level acceptable in the summer period.
May 04, 2007 Website "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"" A meeting with Poles

On both sides of the border. Polish forest officers "inspect" Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

"Each country provides own politics but the Pushcha is one for us. And we are grateful to the management of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" for this opportunity to visit the Belarusian part of the Pushcha and to exchange experience on how to work for preservation of the ancient forest together with colleagues from the village of Kamenyuki", Piotr Zbrozrek, director of the regional management of State forests of Poland, has told during a business meeting between Belarusian and Polish foresters in the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha".

Long-term and fruitful cooperation connects researches and foresters of both parks. According to this, joint activity is conducted to study conditions in unique forest stands and to apply in practice those methods of work which in common opinion bring a greatest effect for preservation of flora and fauna of the reserved territory.

Within the framework of this joint work Polish foresters have visited the Belarusian part of Belovezhskaya Pushcha in late April. During two days of stay in the Pushcha, they have looked at all what was of their interest. They have examined a nursery created this year for producing good-quality pine and oak seedlings in the Nikorskoe forest area in order to regenerate forest stands damaged by bark beetles. They have also visited areas and places for winter artificial feeding of animals, a number of forestry areas, the agricultural area of Wild Nikor and the natural boundary "Tisovik". Forest officers have seen a biotope of silver fir there, a very rare species which was kept only at the Belarusian side of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Local oldest trees have age of 100 to 150 years there. Fast process of natural regeneration of this species is going well in the bottom forest layer. It got possible thanks to fencing this silver fir's natural boundary in 2002 and now wild ungulates do not eat young trees of this rare species. Besides, seeds of the silver fir were sown in the nursery and seedlings were planted two years ago in other places of the Pushcha that make this species numerous. The activity undertaken was greatly approved by our neighbour-foresters as problems of conducting forest management in the Belarusian part of the Pushcha are similar in many respects. The Pushcha is "sick" also in the same way on both sides of the border – dying of giant ash and oak (300 to 350 years old) trees is observed, plants and animals characterized as invasion appear to displace native species.

Summarizing the meetings, Nikolai Bambiza, general director of the National Park, has stated gratitude to Polish colleagues for joint work for the sake of general purposes and has noted that further existence of the Pushcha is problematic if without help of man. Uniform approaches growing from a history of the existence of the relic forest, scientific researches and practice of its preservation should therefore be elaborated on both sides.

T.Skuratova
Pictures show the meeting with Polish foresters in Belarusian Belovezhskaya Pushcha.
Photo made by the author
May 04, 2007 Website "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"" 2007 Parks' March

The Wild Nature Protection Centre (Russia) has announced start of the international action "2007 Parks' March". The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" is invited to participate in this event already for eleventh time. The purpose of this action is to pay attention of the public, authorities, mass media and businessmen to problems of protected areas and to render sponsor's assistance to them. This year the action passes under a motto "Reserved Areas are World Hewritage". Employees of the scientific department and participants of the Public children's organization "EcoPolis" of the Kamenyuki secondary ecological school led by teachers Ludmila Yaroshuk and Zoya Trofimuk have carried out clearing areas from rubbish in places where tourists have a rest. Unfortunately, neither appeals to protect nature, nor the presence of garbage containers do not stop modern people who have a rest from consumers', and sometimes barbarous attitude to nature. This is why real work on maintenance of cleanliness and order on the Pushcha's territory and education on careful attitude to the forest for youngsters became the first "step" of the March in the National Park. Within the framework of this action, scientific-educational excursions, thematic exhibitions of children's drawings, maintainance of tourist routes and other objects, as well as excursions for tourists across Belovezhskaya Pushcha are planned to organize together with pupils and youth.

Vyacheslav Sipach,
a researcher of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"
On the picture, ecological action to clear the area from rubbish.
Photo by the author
May 04, 2007 Website "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"" A field season is the best time for scientists

Researchers of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" have opened a spring-summer field season this year. They carry out forest researches on scientific plots for permanent monitoring. This year it is planed to carry out researches in oak, spruce and pine forests. Dynamics of forest stands, processes of natural regeneration of the forest, successions and other issues in the life of the Pushcha's forest are under investigations.

Belovezhskaya Pushcha is one of the most learned forests in the area of CIS. Most of publications, scientific works and polemics are devoted to Pushcha's forest stands. However, despite of the apparently quite extensive information about conditions of this most ancient forest, scientific employees continue to monitor running natural processes and want to learn theirsecrets as maximal as possible.

Since the spring came, forest researches and botanists got hot time. Ornithologists provide observations on migration and nesting birds in the forest and on water reservoirs. Birds of prey are of special attention by the junior researcher Nikolai Cherkas. They are indicators of ecosystems because, eating butterflies, beetles, worms, rodents and other small animals they "signal" about presence or absence of enough quantities of "living forage". All in nature is under interrelationships. One part is lost and nature sends a signal SOS in the form of birds and mammals to us.

The similar, for example, happened concerning spruce forests when invasion of bark beetles and actions to fight them have caused 30 present decreasing spruce forests, one of the most widespread associations in the Pushcha. Except for spruce stands, researches worry about ash forests to find reasons of their dying. The processes like this occur in the Polish part of the Pushcha as well. Scientist-foresters PhD Vladimir Tolkach and Dmitriy Bernatskiy observe natural development of the forest and restoration of a grassy cover after the winter. They investigate what tree species dominante and what ones are in the bottom forest layer. As the pine dominates in the Pushcha, the great work is carried out to learn its "state of health". Different forest types are also examined…

Of course, in the course of succession (the change of the vegetative structure) tree species do not replace each other as quickly as grassy are doing it. Botanists of Belovezhskaya Pushcha consider that plants which grow at the edge of their natural habitat are the best indicator. Reserches Valentina Khudyakova, Anna Dengubenko and Yulia Kochko provide monitoring of rare plants for many years.

PhD Alexei Bunevich, an expert on bison, is under a tough job all year round. A lot of troubles especially take place in the winter when artificial feeding and inventory of animals are in progress. Now he is also engaged in his common work to monitor forest giants, their health and the growth of newborn little calves. In the spring "the Pushcha's owners" leave winter feeding places and go to be grazed natural grasses. In the early morning herds leave the forest to be on glades where there is a lot of nutritious juicy forage.

All findings will be systematized and will be processed. The researcher Vyacheslav Sipach who is engaged in modern information technologies will help the colleagues with it.

T.Skuratova
May 01, 2007 BP-21 Website News Service A 200,000 visitor of the website "Belovezhskaya Pushcha – 21 Century"

On May 01, 2007, a 200,000 visitor of the website "Belovezhskaya Pushcha – 21 Century" was registered. The indicator to show the index of visiting the website is located at the bottom of the main page http://bp21.org.by/en/. This testifies that popularity of this ecological information resource has considerably being increased among web-users last year. The index of visiting the website makes now from 300 to over 400 loadings for one day. Let's remind that a 100,000 visitor was registered in March of 2006. Thus, over one hundred thousand visits of the website has been for the period of one year and a little more, while first hundred thousand visitors were registered after nearly three years since the BP-21 Century website launched its operation.

Let's also remind that the BP-21 Century website appeared in the cyberspace in June of 2003. In those years the number of visitors of the website made daily 50 to 100. In December of 2004 English version of the website started its operation (http://bp21.org.by/en/).

An interesting fact is that the analysis of the number of visitors of the BP-21 Century website from different countries for the first two months of 2007 has shown that those from Belarus are most numerous (34.2 percent). Russia takes the second prize (28.3 percent) and Ukraine is the third (5.8 percent). It marvelously proved to be that USA takes the fourth prize (5.4 percent), Australia is the fifth (3.9 percent), Germany is the sixth (2.0 percent) and Great Britain is the seventh (1.8 percent). Poland, the neighboring country, has proved to be with visiting only the eighth (1.7 percent). The next are such countries as Latvia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, India, Lithuania, Switzerland, Canada, Estonia, France, Kazakhstan, Czech Republic, Moldova, Israel, Italy etc.

A quit numerous group of constant visitors of the website including foreigners who are interested in acquiring news, articles and other information about Belovezhskaya Pushcha and its problems was generating for the last four years. Except for "purely local" information, the website periodically places publications on common themes like tourism, ecological education and problems of reserves and national parks which are related in either event to protection of reserved wild nature of Belarus. Since 2005 the website has begun to place news and papers written by Polish and other foreign authors devoted to problems of the Polish part of the Bialowieza Forest. And since 2006 the website has extended its format in order to present most interesting news, information and announcements concerning wilderness protection from neighboring countries like Ukraine and Russia.

Judging by responses of readers of the website, not only publication but also the section "Photo-fact" (http://bp21.org.by/ru/ff/), some sort of an ecological textbook which shows ways of how reserved wild nature should be preserved and what kind of management in protected forests is wrong plays important role to raise ecological education of the population. Thus, for today the BP-21 Century website contains over thousand text pages and is actually an encyclopedia representing the history of Belovezhskaya Pushcha for the last eight years.

As a supplement to the website, an Informational electronic dispatch "Voce of the Primeval Forest" in Russian http://www.rasmas.info/distributiondetails.phtml?did=870&cid=95000 is distributed (the number of constant subscribers of the dispatch makes about 125) in which, except for basic information of the website, last and most important ecological news from Russia, Ukraine and other foreign countries are included. Separate releases devoted to actual problems concerning wild nature protection, biodiversity preservation and ecological education, as well as most interesting and actual publication and discussions on issues which exceed the bounds of the ecology in its classical form (problems of the universe, philosophy, politics, sociology etc.) but touch the ecology and future of our planet, that means of all of us, are also distributed.

The BP-21 Century Project's team also answers questions of visitors sent by emails to the website or placed on "Forum" of the website and is in correspondence with people interested in preservations of Belovezhskaya Pushcha and assisting its conservation. The BP-21 Century Project's team also thanks employees and partners from international nature protection funds AAGE V.JENSENS FONDE (Denmark) and WWF (Poland) for lasting charitable help and support of the work of the Public Project "Belovezhskaya Pushcha - 21 Century".