NEWS ARCHIVE: SEPTEMBER 2008

September 26, 2008 Website "The Polish Radio for for foreign countries" One can shoot in Belarus

In Belarus, according to official information, the growth of the export rate of tourist services is observed. It means that there was success to attract foreign tourists to the country.

The growth has made 191.3 percent comparing with the similar period of the last year. Officials were very glad that foreign tourists have brought $ 58.3 billon to the Belarusian treasury for the 7 months.

This information has come from the BelTA Information Agency with the reference to the director of the Department of Tourism of the Belarusian Ministry of Sport and Tourism.

According to official information of the Ministry of Statistics and Analysis of the Republic of Belarus, the most of visits to Belarus were from Lithuania nearly 10,000 people; from Germany 7,800; USA - 5,300 and from Great Britain - 4,400. The amount of tourists from Belgium - 1,800 (the growth is 6 times), from Finland - 605 people, Australia 1,100, from Estonia and Israel - in 4,300 - has greatly increased.

According to an optimistic official statistics, the volume of services rendered by tourist organizations has exceeded the volume made by hotels. Officials explain it as more objects for demonstration were repaired and more sport objects were constructed.

However, there was no word mentioned that Belarusian forests and old protected areas, not repaired castles and any new stadiums, are the most attractive to the foreigners. Hunters from Germany, Italy and France come to get trophies. They willingly buy licenses for hunting here.

A comment by ecologist Valeriy Dranchuk.

Dranchuk: Hunting makes a very big part of the tourism sphere. Hunting in national parks the Braslav Lakes, Narochanskiy, Belovezhskaya Pushcha, Pripyatskiy attract tourists. This is not to benefit for Belarus. The natural resource is lost. There is a tendency to the worse and it should be stopped. However, this is impossible to do in our society. Bison are extracted and are shot in Belovezhskaya Pushcha as though they are ill. But there is no control. Information about what species are under shooting is concealed. This is because this tendency is not welcomed in Europe and in the world. Due to this our protected zones and national parks get "survival". Probably, there is some extra amount of wild animals but it should be defined by scientists. The science is present in the very scanty quantity in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. There is no one to give information which animals cannot be shot. The currency-making element dictates the conditions for the tourist business.

The national program of tourism development elaborated in Belarus is designed for 2008 to 2010. According to it, foreign tourists have to be attracted in Belarus as many as possible. However, it doubts they want to look at bad-restored castles.

Hanna Garachka

*(To listen to the audio-file in Belarusian here, 2,45 Mb)
September 23, 2008 "Respublika" (The Republic) newspaper, No 177 How to come to Poland?

The Brest region. A four-year French student from the Harvard University admired beauties of the Belarusian part of Belovezhskaya Pushcha for a very short time. As soon as he has cycled from Poland through the pass in frontier engineering structures, he was detained right there by the Belarusian frontier guards.

The infringer who crossed the border separating the protected forest between Poland and Belarus, was delivered to the frontier post right there. However, he has cycled back at the same day. It proved to be that the student has arrived to the Polish village of Bialowieza where the residence of Russian kings was earlier to make a tour. But when cycling he was behind the group and, after he has lost the right way, he has followed a road at random and that is why he has finished in the Belarusian frontier guards. After the mess of this non-authorized border crossing was quickly cleared up, he was forwarded to his Polish colleagues without delays.
September 23, 2008 Website "Oil and Capital" The Russian oil giant Lukoil will construct a petroleum base close to the Bialowieza Forest (Poland)

On the territory of Lesna close to outskirts of the Bialowieza Forest, the Russian oil company Lukoil will construct a large fuel base with as a minimum of 20 tankages for storage of petroleum, gas and diesel fuel to cover the area of 25 hectares. The largest of the tankages is designed for 5,000 cubic metre of fuel which will then be distributed to petroleum filling stations throughout Poland.

Ecologists alarm that the fuel base located in this place is "a bomb of delayed-action" for the local ecosystem. Why? It is because irrigation channels are within the area bought by the Lukoil. All the Bialowieza Forest can be polluted in case of any an emergency and fuel outflow. Besides, it means that here there will be a strong traffic of heavy transport vehicles there that will cause a catastrophe for the environment, as it is informed from Rosinvest.
September 21, 2008 Website "Poland.pl" A deal threatening the protected Bialowieza Forest (Poland)

The local authorities of the Narewka province in the east have struck a deal with the Russian oil giant Lukoil allowing for the construction of a base which could seriously threaten the protected forest are.

The Russian concern is to set up a base for fuels such as oil, petrol and gas which are to be distributed to stations throughout Poland. Ecologists alarm that the base will mean en end of the ecosystem. In case of any damage in the base the water canals running through the area would be contaminated, polluting the whole of the Bialowieza Forest.

The province authorities are reluctant to elaborate on the deal adding that there are several fuel terminals in the region.
September 20, 2008 Website "The Belarusian Radio RATSIA" Janusz Korbel: an oil base construction in Belovezhskaya Pushcha is absurdity (Poland)

Dr. Janusz Korbel, chairman of the Association for Landscape Protection from Hajnowka (Poland), has commented news about construction of a fuel storage by the Russian oil giant Lukoil in the Bialowieza Forest.

"This is absurdity when the local municipalities think that it is possible to develop the region by construction of bases / storages for any harmful materials and for any wastes in the place which is valuable not only at the regional level but also at the national and international ones. If having such gold vein as the Bialowieza Forest, tourism should be developed and nature should be cared. Instead of it, it seems that all are glad of possibilities to construct something unnatural, any storage of petroleum or something unknown. I do not understand this approach.

The threat exists when constructing, when operating and later because this will be a big traffic generator. Heavy cars and tank-cars will drive there. They will cross the Bialowieza Forest. Besides, we, as a matter of fact, do not know how this base will be designed as this is a huge area of 25 hectares. If it is planned as a huge storage for gas, oil and petrol, it will then provoke a strong traffic. Besides, there will be a change of the geological situation if, God forbid, any outflow but if even during the construction works. The National Park Bialowieza Forest is located few kilometres from the site of construction. Besides, this is an integral ecological corridor which will be blocked. The connection between the area of Semienowka and the district of Narewka is broken off. Nevertheless, it was planned to serve the area of Semienowka for the tourism purposes. So, all these actions are absolutely insensible. The earlier construction of the water reservoir Semienowka has lowered the level of subsoil waters. That area is crossed by irrigation channels. All of these will be changed if the next big underground reservoirs will be built. The change of the natural hydrological situation should also be mentioned. The influence of this investment will be as very strong as it is difficult to predict it.

The most terrible thing is that the powerful traffic generator is created which will only serve huge tanks driving there, not bicyclists visiting the Bialowieza Forest and observing birds. Our Association for Landscape Protection, it's clearly, is against to do it. We are unpleasantly surprised after receiving this information. The people learn from newspapers about it, about the decision-making using roundabout ways because there was no information for the people and there was no public discussion regarding these issues. This clearly demonstrates that there is necessity of creation of the uniform plan for the whole region, that this plan is absent and that everyone tries to get money using the simplest way, namely to sell the ground in our case. The simplest way is to sell lands for recreation or for construction of the oil base. Money will be taken and one can get something in the form of tax if it happens. However, it is impossible to forget that the sphere of tourism, not storage, is the second of the biggest activities all over the world. Thus, the branch which serve our source of benefit is cut.
September 11, 2008 "Rossiyskaya Gazeta" (The Russian Newspaper) Scientists from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine have discussed the work in national parks and reserves

Last days off the 3rd International Scientific and Practical Conference "The ecological and economic mechanism of conservation of biological diversity of especially protected territories" was hold in the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha". About 30 scientists from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine have taken part in the scientific forum.

This conference is the next step in the dialogue which was begun in Belovezhskaya Pushcha at the first conference in April of 2006 and was continued at the second conference in June of 2007, Dmitriy Bernatskiy, deputy director on science of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha", has explained. Our general purpose is to increase efficiency of functioning of the system of especially protected natural territories.

The scientists have discussed the issues on financing of national parks in different countries and new approaches to manage these protected areas. Ecological approaches of conservation of biological diversity and maintenance of sustainable balance of the ecosystem as whole were under special attention of the experts.

Economics of nature use is one of the new directions in the field of management of especially protected natural territories. International cooperation in this sphere helps to create the uniform program of scientific investigation in the protected areas and enables to improve the ecological and economic mechanism on development and preservation of fauna and flora.

The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" is a favourite place for tourists for a long time. They go there to get clean air and unforgettable impressions. By the 600th anniversary since first protection, we will celebrate this anniversary next year, the tourist infrastructure of the National Park will be more attractive.

Valentina Kozlovich, Belovezhskaya Pushcha
"The Union. Belarus-Russia", N 374, September 11, 2008
September 08, 2008 Website "Interfax" Alexander Lukashenko: The best water and vodka are in Belarus

Water, the best in the world, is in Belarus along with Croatia, Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus, has declared when answering the question connected to ecology during a press conference in Minsk.

"During my visit to the UN I have learned to my surprise that Byelorussian and Croatian water is considered the best in the world and, probably, our vodka is therefore very good", the President has told.

Alexander Lukashenko has said that the environment in the country is under a very careful treatment. " If someone illegally cuts trees in the country he personally deals with me", the President has emphasized.

"Fortunately, the people had no time to drain all bogs during the Soviet period", Alexander Lukashenko has noted. As he said Belarusian bogs, not Belovezhskaya Pushcha, can be called "the lungs of Europe".

"We already cover old sand-pits with earth for three years and we remove garbage dumps", the head of the state has told.

According to the President, protection of the environment is one of priorities of the internal policy of the Belarusian state.
September 02, 2008 Website "WOOD.RU" A management plan was widely discussed in the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"

The issues on prolongation of a European Diploma for the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" were under discussion at the session of the Permanent Committee for the Bern Convention in Strasbourg in November of 2008. After taking the report from the representatives of the Belarusian delegation concerning implementation of the EU recommendations, the Commission has concluded to make one more examination in the National Park. A lack of the Management Plan for this territory because of objective circumstances to complete it has got the reason for accepting this decision.

A wide discussion of the Management Plan prepared by the working group under the direction of experts of the State Research-and-Production Association "The Scientific and Practical Centre on Bio-Resources of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus" (SRPA) has recently taken place in the State Nature Protection Institution "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha". Experts from the Presidential Property Management Department and the Ministry of Nature Protection, scientists from the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus and the Brest Region Forest Management Board, and local authorities have brought remarks and additions. The document is now in a stage of completion and coordination. The developers will present its final version at the turn of the summer. The draft Management Plan will be put on the National Park's website to make it accessible for wide discussions. Michael Nikiforov, general director of the SRPA, has told to a reporter of "The Belorusskaya Lesnaya Gazeta" (The Belarusian Forest Newspaper) about for what purposes the Management Plan is developed.

- Michael Efimovich, as it is known, the overall activity in the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" has earlier been conducted according to the basic document a Forest Inventory and Management Project. Why has the Council of Europe recommended to make the additional document for the National Park a Management Plan?

- There are a certain standards and requirements to nature protection objects with the international status in the world. In particular, the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" is one of the most titled nature protection areas in the world. It has a status of Biosphere Reserve and is a UNESCO World Mankind Heritage Site. In 1997 it was awarded with a European Diploma. This is why the Council of Europe is interested in receiving a scheme of the development of this territory which will be in compliance with the European standards. We realize that such the approaches should be identical to all countries, while the importance of protected areas is to be estimated by using common European standards. It is basically a common practice. The Management Plan is developed coming from these reasons, while the Forest Inventory and Management Project is presently not enough for an especially protected territory with the international status. The creation of the Management Plan is a dictate of time.

Today there is a real threat that the National Park can considerably lower its importance as a refuge of a biological diversity because a complex of factors of the natural and anthropogenic origin negatively influences on the Belovezhskaya Pushcha ecosystems resulting in reduction of diversity of forest communities and in violation of their structure. In this connection a number of nature protection measures aimed to preserve the ecosystems shall be carried out in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Not all of them can be entered into the Forest Inventory and Management Project but they will be taken into account on the development and realization of the Management Plan for this especially protected natural territory. By the way, this document would be created even no recommendation of the Council of Europe.

- What is difference between the Management Plan and the Forest Inventory and Management Project?

- First of all, a complex approach is given. While how to manage the forestry in the right way that to maintain health conditions and grown process in the forest is the main for the Forest Inventory and Management Project, the Management Plan helps conduct the management in the view of preservation of all components of the ecosystem. The Forest Inventory and Management Project only indirectly touches upon these issues.

The Management Plan is developed for 10 years like the Forest Inventory and Management Project. However, it will be updated in 5 years. The descriptive part of the Management Plan is the most volumetric. The detailed analysis as a model of the condition complete ecosystem of Belovezhskaya Pushcha is made there, so in 10 years it would be possible to see all changes for this time and to accept correct decisions. By the highest standards this is one more annals of the nature of the protected forest. The analysis of all threats is also examined in the Management Plan and the recommendations how to avoid them are given.

- Tell, please, about the basic tasks which should be managed in Belovezhskaya Pushcha according to the Management Plan.

- Among the priorities there is a task of restoration and conservation of the mosaic variety of landscapes typical for the Pushcha and of the diversity of communities, mainly, by means of restoration of natural hydrological processes. The basic problems you see have happened in the Pushcha because of violation of the hydrological situation. Control for the hydrological situation, therefore, makes one of the main parts of the Management Plan. Nikolai Vakhonon, director of the Institute of Melioration and Water Economy is a member of the working group and he personally deals with these issues.

To support natural processes in relic old-age forests, to maintain natural reproduction, to rehabilitate injured native species and to restrict distribution of alien species, for example, of red oak is also a very important task. As against the native species common oak and durmast oak - alien red oak has a high growth rate, plentiful and nearly annual fruitage, high-adaptive resistance to survive in shade conditions and ecological plasticity that allows it to occupy habitats in various conditions. Its acorns are quickly distributed by birds and squirrels. All of these factors create a real threat of entering the red oak to be a part of the forest stands and of losing the specificity of the Pushcha's forests.

The next are the measures on preservation of key habitats of rare and threatened species of plants and animals, in particular, a silver fir and a population of wood grouse, on restoration and maintenance of open fen mires and on optimization of recreational pressure to the Park's area.

Besides, recommendations on optimization of economic activity in the National Park place (the) emphasis on changes of the economic structure that to increase incomes from tourism and different services are developed in the Management Plan. And, of course, perfection of the monitoring for ecosystem and components of the biodiversity of Belovezhskaya Pushcha to ensure permanent observations and researches of the condition in the old-aged forests and ecological consequences of drainage works is presented.

- How successful was the work to make the Management Plan?

- Our SRPA on Bio-Resources possesses experience on preparation of the documents like this for objects of world importance with consideration of international standards, but in this case we were very limited with a deadline. The Management Plan was already repeatedly under consideration and discussion. Its draft version was submitted to Strasbourg this spring. The document has got approval and its scheme meets requirements of the European standards. The researchers of the National Park are working by having close contact with other experts. When preparing the Management Plan, a number of the conciliatory proposals have also been found with the management of the National Park. General Director Nikolai Bambiza with understanding concerns to the development of the document and to enlargement of the strictly protected zone and, as being the most interested party, greatly contributes to the people working for the project. We also well understand that the National Park is a subject managing the economy. The applicability of the Park is to show how its preserved values are looked, not to save it hidden from the people. Since there are more and more visitors wishing to see the Pushcha's beauty, a number of measures is necessary that not to cause damage from tourists visiting the forest. Such kinds of measures are also stipulated in this document.

So, Belovezhskaya Pushcha will soon have its own Management Plan. And there are no serious reasons that not to prolong the validity of the European Diploma.

Tatiana Dobysh,
" The Belorusskaya Lesnaya Gazeta" (The Belarusian Forest Newspaper)
September 01, 2008 Website "The Hungarian portal" European bison return to Hungary


A private game reserve in Northeast Hungary has received five Polish-born bison similar to the above animal. The aim is to re-introduce the species to Hungary, where it used to roam before dying off two centuries ago.

Five European bison have arrived in Fuzerkomlos, NE Hungary, from Poland, where they will live amidst natural conditions in a private game preserve.

Local hunter and entrepreneur Andras Mester fenced off a 25-hectare area for the bison with a view to re-introducing them in Hungary. The facility was opened for the new arrivals on Saturday.

As all the animals are of Polish origin, their names begin with the letter "P". The alpha bull, for instance, is called Polop. Their offspring, hopefully to be born in Hungary, will have names beginning with the letter "H".

The herbivorous European bison, the largest mammal on the continent, once roamed the great deciduous forest that stretched through most of Europe and into Siberia.

However, time took its toll on the once continuous distribution of bison, which now exist only in a few isolated areas. The largest concentration of the species lives in Poland's Bialowieza National Park, Europe's last primeval forest and a part of the UNESCO World Heritage.

The last European bison living in the Carpathian Basin was killed in Transylvania, now in Romania, about 200 years ago. As the species approached extinction, in the 1950s a number of countries including Poland and Romania began a resolute effort to save surviving specimens.