July 31, 2003 BelaPAN News Agency Government has no control over Pushcha, ecologist Valery Dranchuk is sure

The government lost its control over the National Park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha», according to Valery Dranchuk, ecologist and head of the «Terra-Convention» who has been to the forest this week.

As BelaPAN reported, on July 29 — 30 in response to Kamenyuki villagers' complaints Belovezhskaya Pushcha was inspected by the government committee led by Maria Khudaya, Chamber of Representatives deputy. Although not part of the committee, Valeri Dranchuk, with M.Khudaya's consent, was at the scene as a public observer. V.Dranchuk told BelaPAN that, in addition to her talks with the park administration, the deputy met with Kamenyuki villagers, namely with Vladimir Datskevich, orniphologist and native dweller in Pushcha, Yevgeny Smoktunovich, former National Park director and former chief forestry officer, Heorhi Kazulka, former deputy director in charge of science, Yelena Mozgovaya, Kamenyuki rural authority chairperson.

«Maria Khudaya had a chance to hear of all social problems of today's Pushcha. She received critical answers to her questions and learned of many facts regarding the real situation in the National Park,» V.Dranchuk said.

Still, it is early to talk about the inspection results. «No one on the committee has spoken out yet against the situation,» the ecologist said. M.Khudaya promised all the issues would be discussed by the committee of the Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly or at the Parliament hearings. Nonetheless, it is difficult to say what the committee conclusions will be like.

According to the ecologist, during that visit to the National Park he became certain that «the situation there is out of the government control.» «Like people who live here, I tend to think that the President is not aware of it. I know he has not received their collective letter with 260 signatures. I'm ready to forget political ambitions and offer A.Lukashenko to visit Pushcha with no spinning rod and roller-skates, but with Attorney-General and Government Control Committee chairperson because it feels like the National Park is becoming a nest of criminals. Today Pushcha's life-saving should not be restricted by politics and politicians,» believes V.Dranchuk.

July 31, 2003 Website News Service Parliamentarians visit Pushcha

On July 29 — 30 Belovezhskaya Pushcha was inspected again, this time by parliamentarians led by Maria Nikolaevna Khudaya, chairperson of the committee on ecology, natural resources and dealing with catastrophe aftermaths under the Parliamentarian Assembly of the Belarus and Russia Union. The inspection committee, along side deputies, included major specialists from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection, the National Academy of Science, the Forestry Committee, the Property Management Department of the Belarusian President. Valery Dranchuk, famous Belarusian publicist, editor-in-chief of the newspaper «Belovezhskaya Pushcha» and head of the public initiative «Terra-Convention», was also among the parliamentarians who inspected Belovezhskaya Pushcha.
July 28, 2003 BelaPAN News Agency Some Pushcha villages are true historic sites, scientists believe

There are some villages in the area of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, which have to be immediately protected and included on the list of historical sites, according to scientists who carried out research as part of the project «Pushcha without borders» sponsored by the DANCEE (Danmark).

Scientists and representatives of public organizations have been to 46 villages located near the border of Belarus and Poland, Viktor Fenchuk, the project coordinator, told BelaPAN. They questioned the dwellers to collect as much as possible information on historic events and searched for and photographed old buildings, cemeteries and monuments.

July 25, 2003 BelaPAN News Agency White storks may become part of ecological and local lore tourism in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, scientists suppose

The white stork may become part of ecological and local lore tourism in the area of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, according to Belarusian and Polish researchers, who worked at part of the project «Pushcha without borders» which is sponsored by the DANCEE (Danmark).

The researchers have registered the white stork nests in the south part of Pushcha. Their aim was to find traditional types and places of storks' nesting to use them in the future for development of ethnographical and local lore tourism in the area.

Storks in the south of Belovezhskaya Pushcha usually nest on top of transmission lines supports — almost 67 per cent of the registered storks nest there, Viktor Fenchuk, the project coordinator in Belarus and member of the public association «Belarus' Birds Protection», told BelaPAN. The fact that all the nests are built within inhabited localities proves strong ties of the white stork with people's settlements.

Viktor Fenchuk thinks that villages on the edge of Belovezhskaya Pushcha are of great interest in terms of ecological tourism and protection of traditional storks' nesting. He says one may and should create tourist trails (walking, cycling or driving) with the villages which feature traditional nesting of the birds being the integral part of them. The trail Kamenyuki — Dmitrovichi — Rozhovka — Chvirki — Panasyuki — Selishche — Kamenyuki may become an example of such trails, according to V.Fenchuk.

«The white stork plays a special role in Belarus' culture and can be considered integral part of our rural landscape or, on the whole, symbol of Belarus' countryside, which can be attractive for tourists,» V.Fenchuk said. To make the area attractive for tourists one needs to encourage storks to nest on trees or houses' roofs and set up special nesting supports for them. Polish ecologists also note that storks prefer for their nests transmission line supports to traditional trees and roofs. According to ornithologists, the birds may choose them because of better hatching results on them.

By the way, Polish electrical companies even set up special round metal platforms on transmission lines posts, as they counted that it is easier to pay to make and set up these platforms, than systematically repair posts damaged by the birds.

July 23, 2003 «Sovetskaya Belorussiya» (The Soviet Byelorussia) Newspaper, #133 Bison «Sanych» to live in Minsk zoo

A long-expected newcomer — a true bison — appeared yesterday in the Minsk zoo. In the early morning a two-year-old Sanych, a name given to the bison yet in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, was released into a spacious 400-square metres enclosure with a big house.

Sanych, compared to other bison, looks only as a teenager. When he comes of age in two years time, he will change completely. This autumn, by the way, he may expect a «girl friend» to join him. There are hopes in the Minsk zoo that the bison will like their new home and create a true bison family.

Nadezhda DEKOLA
July 14, 2003 BelaPAN News Agency Book dedicated to Pushcha's cultural heritage published in Belostok

A book called «Cultural Heritage of Belovezhskaya Pushcha» is published in Belostok (Poland) in the Belarusian, Polish and English languages. The authors of the illustrated edition are Belarusian and Polish researchers, participants of the project «Pushcha without borders» which was financed by the DANCEE (Danish Agency on Environment Protection) and carried out on both sides of the border of Belarus and Poland in the area of Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

One of the aims of the project «Pushcha without borders» was to initiate a high level of activity to conserve cultural and natural heritage resources in the area of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. The results of the conducted research, as well as the materials of the «Forum for cultural and natural heritage resources in the area of Belovezhskaya Pushcha» were included in the new book.

The book also contains information on monuments found in the area of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, as well as the ruinous Belovezhski imperial palace and, also, perspectives on developing ecological tourism. It also offers interesting information on possibilities to restore a house in the village Rozhkovka (so-called «smoky house») built in 1837. The house is now being restored with the help of Belarusian and Poland architects.

July 11, 2003 «Rodnaya Priroda» (The Native Nature) Magazine, #3 (195) Vermin eats and does not listen

Spruce bark beetle became indeed noticeable in Belovezhskaya Pushcha two years ago, infesting over 400 hectares of forest. The first felled trees, already «killed» by the beetle, provoked a wave of protests at that time. There were demands to «leave the beetle alone» expressed both by forestry specialists and those, who were ready to use any vermin to let people know of themselves.

So, instead of fighting the beetle there began humdrum talks on the need of fighting it. The beetle did not stop to listen to all those scientific and semi-scientific discussions, but went on eating, eating and eating and multiplying. The area of infestation grew to 1000 hectares and then to 1500 hectares and on and on.

Now the National Park takes tough measures, felling the dead trees wherever possible and bringing them together for processing. While new tree plantations will take the place of felled trees, in the wilderness protection area bark beetle will be fought by nature. There have been thousands of man-made pheromone traps set up there, including trapping trees and other means of fighting the beetle. In other words, good work is being done at last.