NEWS ARCHIVE: September 2001

September 03, 2001 "Brestski Kuryer" (The Brest Courier) Newspaper, #37 Chain saws perform the requiem

Because of so-called sanitary cuttings that are going on in the forest, the State National park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha» can lose the European Diploma. The National park was granted the Diploma in 1997 and, according to tradition, in 5 years time, which is in 2002; the park administration has to demonstrate that requirements of the Council of Europe regarding protection of the unique natural site are fulfilled. This is the only case in which the Diploma will be allowed to «stay» for another five years. Otherwise the National park will lose it. And if so, the world society will consider us barbarians …

Starting with September, experts will intently monitor what is going on in our Pushcha, and in September next year they will take a decision concerning the Diploma …

Last events in the National park give us reasons to worry. «The Brest Courier» informed that the activity in the National park was «feverish» in the last five years, ever since Pushcha was subordinated to the Property Management Department of the President and Vasiliy Zhukov, former chairman of a collective farm, was named director of the park. Just recently another man took this post, a man whose name ecologists and scientists link to the worst fears regarding Pushcha's future. Nickolai Bambiza is an economic planer, not a scientist, and by all appearances his purpose is quite simple: to get things going at the sawmill. At least this is the impression he made in his first one hundred days as director of this park.

Soon after Mr. Bambiza was appointed to this post, sanitary cuttings authorized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection have started in seven quarters of the forest, adding up to 50 hectares. The infection of spruce trees with bark beetle (this pest is not new to the Pushcha, it has always populated this forest!) was just a legal pretext. Due to people who appreciate Pushcha as an object of admiration and scientific research, putting a stop to this barbarity was a success…

Just recently, UNESCO addressed the Belarusian government with an enquiry. The international organization wants official explanations for the intensification of industrial cuttings in the forest …

The average age of the forests of Belovezhskaya Pushcha is more than one hundred years old, but separate sites are 250 — 350 years old. There are also 350 year old ash and pine trees and 400 — 600 year old oaks growing here. Belovezhskaya Pushcha is richer in plant and animal species than any other areas in Europe. In 1992, UNESCO has included a part of the State National Park «Belovezhskaya Pushcha» into the List of World Heritage of Mankind. This year, the World Bank for Reconstruction and Development granted one million dollars for conservation of biological diversity in the Belarusian part of the Pushcha. The next year, UNESCO gave Belovezhskaya Pushcha the title of Biosphere Reserve, and in 1997, the Council of Europe granted the European Diploma to the National park. Generally speaking, the problem is not connected with the Diploma, because the problem is inside us. The international society is concerned with the fact that the relic forest is felled, while we, Belarusians, are apathetically looking at this incident …

Valentina Kozlovich