NEWS ARCHIVE: NOVEMBER 2007

November 30, 2007 "Vecherniy Brest" (The Evening Brest) Newspaper, No 96 Not say "Yes" and "No": Belovezhskaya Pushcha without the Diploma till spring

Click to enlarge in the new window  the European Diploma for the National Park 'Belovezhskaya Pushcha'
The decision on prolongation of the validity (or abrogation) of the European Diploma for Belovezhskaya Pushcha is again postponed, now - till spring of 2008. Let's remind that the previous term of validity of the Diploma has expired the 30th of September and since that time the situation remains to be uncertain. A team of experts who investigated the report about the situation concerning nature protection in the National Park which was prepared by one of their members has concluded that prolongation of the prestigious status for our Park is not inexpedient. The Belarusian party has not agreed with this conclusion and has required anew considering the draft resolution. It was supposed that this question will finally clear up on the session of the Permanent Committee for the Bern Convention of the Council of Europe on November 26 to 29 in Strasbourg. At least, the Belarusian delegation consisted of Galina Volchuga, a Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Protection, Nikolai Bambiza, a general director of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha", and Igor Kachanovskiy, a head of the Department of Protected Natural Complexes and Nature Use at the Property Management Department of the President, has went to Strasbourg in full possession and with firm reliance upon they will be able to defend so powerful award for the most titled reserve of our country.

On time of issuing the newspaper, the Belarusian delegation has not yet returned from Strasbourg. We are waiting for official comments on results of the negotiation in the CE which should be expecting in the upcoming days.

Nevertheless, the semi decision accepted at the session of the Permanent Committee for the Bern Convention should be convenient to the Belarusian party as it gives some respite to it. According to information from our source in the Secretary on the European Diploma for Protected Territories, the discussion concerning the European awards for three reserves (the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha", the Polish Bialowieza National park and one of the parks of Romania) was held in the morning of November 28. Most likely, nerve-strain was serious - the Belarusian delegation put arguments to cover all remarks by CE experts. And the Permanent Committee has finally come to the conclusion that it hasn't full information to accept the adequate decision. The team of experts authorized to analyze technical issues should anew examine the case regarding the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" with consideration of information given by the parties.

The next session of the team is planned to March of 2008. To this time one of the independent experts authorized by the CE should again visit the Belarusian Reserve that to check up what changes are to take place in the Pushcha since the last visit in November of 2006 and how recommendations of the CE are fulfilled. His report will underlie the resolution which will be developed next spring. Belarus has undertaken to give proofs of positive changes. By counter evidences brought by our delegation in Strasbourg, the final decision of the CE should be unequivocally positive.

P.S.
It's very likely for independent ecologists who are acting against cuttings and commercial hunting in the Pushcha for a long time that some objections of the Belarusian party became revelation. They have hardly forgotten the recent (less than one year has passed since that) case of emergency in the Pushcha when foreign hunters have shot a female of bison with a little calf by mistake. However, that's not the point of someone's ambitions. That's the point of prestige of the country. And this requires from the Reserve to fulfill recommendations of the CE this time and to remain the so powerful international status on hand.

Our readers have opportunity to compare arguments of the parties and to make own conclusions. We have taken some recommendations of the CE experts concerning the situation in the National Park (the left column) and objections of the Belarusian party (the right column) from the memorandum which was under consideration in Strasbourg on Wednesday.
Making and putting into action a ten-year management plan for the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha including contiguous territories of the international importance. Such the plan could not be under elaboration till 2006 as, according to other recommendation of the , the extension of the strictly protected core zone of the National Park was in progress that again demanded to provide inventory and cataloguing of the territories joined to the core area.
Revision of the existing forest management and practice to maximum conservation of biodiversity including to impose a ban on cutting of old trees and essential increase in the volume of dead wood in old-age (more than 140 years old, the editor's note) forests. The existing legislation forbids cuttings of living trees in the National Park. Spot-limited cuttings of dead wood targeted to prevent wide-spreading bark beetles and forest fires were undertaken in the preceding years. The areas of cuttings were limited by infected sites and roadsides. After decreasing the activity of bark beetles volumes in cuttings were essentially reduced.
Steps on total interdiction for hunting in Belovezhskaya Pushcha (with the exception of shooting of ill herbivorous animals); complete protection of the wolf population. The appropriate measures should also be undertaken in the Forest Game Hunting Ground "Shereshevo". There is no hunting activity in the National Park, with exception of elimination of ill and old ungulates which are unable for reproduction. The population of wolves in the Pushcha is stable in number which is a bit higher than European standards. The necessity of limited extraction of the wolf population is explained by the danger to nearby located cattle-breeding farms and outbreak s of rabies. Selection and elimination is only conducted in the areas contiguous to the National Park.
Eradication of the flow of mass tourism which threaten protected environment, including revision of the location of the Grandfather Frost's residence. The Grandfather Frost's residence is located in the external recreational zone of the National Park, not in the reserved core. The existence of the residence prevents spontaneous moving of tourists close to the strictly reserved zone. The harm to the environment is minimal and is limiting to an insignificant area.
Elena TRIBULEVA
November 30, 2007 Website "Naviny.by" Some changes will be made in the Belarusian Law on especially protected natural territories

It is planned to make changes and additions to the Law "On especially protected natural territories". According to the BelaPAN News Agency, Vitaliy Korenchuk, a head of the Department of Wild Nature Protection of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection, has informed about this on November 30 during the round table's session devoted to conservation of wild nature in Belarus.

In the new version of the Law, a clause "On management of especially protected territories" will be appeared, in compliance with which all these territories should have plans of management. Such plans should serve a basis to develop actual measures for especially protected natural territories (EPNT). "Functioning of protected natural territories on the basis of the plan of management will be much more effective", Vitaliy Korenchuk considers.

As he said, an item about tourism is entered in the law for the first time. It makes adjustment of activities in the field of tourism and health improvement on the EPNTs. Besides, creation of the register of the EPNTs is also intended. In opinion of the expert, this register will help to react more quickly to all changes which go on these territories.

The developed Law also determines that state nature protection institutions can be created for the EPNTs to manage their areas. It prescribes an opportunity for the first time for the Belarusian EPNTs to be internationally important - for today such the objects can only get a status of national or local importance.

Vitaliy Korenchuk has also noted to pioneer an opportunity given to a general public to participate in the management of the EPNTs. "The public can influence on drawing up plans of management and on realization of concrete measures in the frame of these plans".

The expert has emphasized that the new Law gives more precise formulations of basic concepts connected with the EPNTs and changes a definition of especially protected natural territories. According to V.Korenchuk, it now specifies that this is an integrated ecosystem as a whole.

By the beginning of 2007, there were totaled 1,467 EPNTs in Belarus. They are the Berezinski Biosphere Reserve, 4 national parks, 99 protected areas for special purposes of the national and 456 areas the local importance, 337 natural monuments of the national and 572 ones of the local importance.

Now a bill is on examination in the National Centre of Law Creation. According to V.Korenchuk, the document can be accepted in 2008.
November 30, 2007 Website "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"" Meet Snow Maiden!

The estate of Belarusian Grandfather Frost is now under preparation for New Year. The wizard has conceived to renew his dwelling. He has asked his old friend, Alexander Maslo, a heaven-born artist and a jack-of-all-trades, who using only an axe has built a log hut to him and all fantastic interior four years ago. How he is working to build a new Skarbnitsa - storehouse or Santa's grotto. Girls and boys write letters to the Grandfather and send figures and hand-made articles as many as the old premise became small. The Old Man has prepared a lot of bags with sweets and a separate house is also necessary to store them.

There is one more joyful event for which the wizard is waiting for. The 1st of December is a day when his favourite Granddaughter Snow Maiden comes back from far North Pole. The Grandfather Frost meets the Snow Maiden every year and always arranges a holiday with songs, round dances and, certainly, with gifts for small guys. Come here! The Grandfather Frost from Belovezhskaya Pushcha will be glad to see all visitors. And although reconstruction of the residence is still in progress, he will meet visitors with pleasure.

Taisia Skuratova.
The Photo by the author and by Oleg Pasiuk.

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This news is placed in the short-cut form
the BP-21 Century editor's note
November 30, 2007 Website "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"" The 1st of December is a World Day to struggle with AIDS. Protect itself and those whom you love

Coordinators of the International Project "AIDS Preventive Maintenance and Treatment in the Republic of Belarus" financed by the Global Fund for struggle with AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria have organized an outdoor seminar on November 26 to 27 in Belovezhskaya Pushcha for the first time, one of the most ecologically clean corners on the planate Earth. The agenda of this seminar is to share an experience how to work for prevention of spreading the AIDS infection and how to reduce social and economic consequences from AIDS.

Taisia Skuratova
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This news is placed in the short-cut form
the BP-21 Century editor's note
November 26, 2007 Website "Charter'97" Ecologists appeal not to prolong a European Diploma for Belovezhskaya Pushcha

Click to enlarge in the new window  the European Diploma for the National Park 'Belovezhskaya Pushcha'
Valery Dranchuk, a famous Belarusian journalist and ecologist, has called upon to the Council of Europe "to resist hottest assurances from the Belarusian party about good intentions" and not to prolong the Diploma for Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

Valery Dranchuk considers that the EU Diploma is to be used as "a tool for conservation of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, however, the National Park is today a site of World Heritage where business-hardened moneymakers are operating".

Therefore, with prolongation of the Diploma, the Council of Europe "will close eyes to challenges of lawlessness existing there and will give out in advance permission for further economic activity which, from the point of view of biosphere approach, is incompatible and conflicts with a status of national park", the publicist and ecologist supposes.

It is the Valery Dranchuk's opinion that "the Diploma did not become a really working stimulus for more effective management in the National Park for last ten years. It did not become a mechanism of "sword of Damocles" either to restrain the timber industry or other economic activities which radically gets off tasks of conservation of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, a priority for the management and for the staff of the National Park, and quite often is the direct reason of degradation of the Pushcha".

Valery Dranchuk considers that authorities not only hide from independent experts the real situation existing now in the National reserve but also persecute those who aspire not to allow destruction of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. As an example of this, he to cites some stories he was personally involved.

"Last years the administration of the National park began to apply methods of despotism towards me, a publicist and a mouthpiece of an alternative view on the practice and the quality of conservation of the Pushcha.

In 2003, under my initiative and at support of the UN Office, a press-tour to the National Park was held. However, the regime has not accredited me neither for the trip to the Park, nor for participation in the press conference to discuss its results.

In 2004 I have received an invitation from the UNESCO's Belarusian National Commission to take part in the meeting-dialogue between UNESCO / IUCN experts and representatives of Belarusian environmentalists working in the public sphere. The administration has limited time of my stay within the Park's territory to one hour and has made barriers to block my stay in the Park which became the reason of failure in the interview with Mr. Flander, an IUCN expert. So, having agreed beforehand, I could not pass to the place of our meeting.

In 2006, avoiding any base and infringing upon the Law on press, I was deported from the National park just after few hours of my official journey (paramilitary services has put a condition of my emergency departure under the threat to arrest me)",
Mr. Dranchuk asserts.

Let's remind that the Council of Europe is going to discuss issues on giving back the prestigious European Diploma to Belovezhskaya Pushcha these days. The validity of the Diploma has expired the 30th of September while the Diploma was automatically not prolonged to the following five years. In opinion of experts, the Belarusian party did not fulfill any of items of the contract and, therefore, a chance to get back the Diploma is close to zero.

However, the official Minsk hopes to make change the CE experts that to execute conditions of the Diploma it was absolutely impossible. To catch this purpose, a representative delegation led by Galina Volchuga, a Deputy Minister of Nature Protection, Nikolai Bambiza, a director of the Reserve, has leaved for Strasbourg.

Will there listen to reasons of ecologists in the Council of Europe or will there support officials, it becomes known to November 29 when the final decision about the future of the Diploma will be accepted.

Read the full text of the appeal by Valery Dranchuk to the Council of Europe here (in Russian) - The Appeal by Valery Dranchuk to the Council of Europe: On prolongation of the validity of the European Diploma to the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha".

Read also "The Appeal of the Belarusian public figures to the Council of Europe concerning the threat to conservation of Belovezhskaya Pushcha".
November 24, 2007 "Respublika" (The Republic) newspaper, No 221 In new year's day to Belovezhskaya Pushcha!

The New Year is not far off. Cheerful New Year's and Christmas holidays and the winter vacation for pupils are also close. Employees of the Estate of Grandfather Frost of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" are already actively preparing to meet this crucial moment.

"The favourite fantastic character will soon begin to meet visitors in the renovated estate", Taisia Skuratova, a senior expert of the department of information of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha", has told to the BelTA Information Agency. "In the eve of New Year's holidays, the estate will begin to sparkle with magic fires from new illumination while the dwelling of the Grandfather, due to a new reed roof, will turn to a true fantastic tower. And, certainly, a snow cannon will add more fantastic effect to the estate, due to which the Grandfather Frost will always have snow in the winter.

Letters and souvenirs sent for the Grandfather Frost will be stored in a new, more spacious Snegurochka's house, or Skarbnitsa. New assistants will also appear to help to the sovereign of blizzards and snowstorms. A Forest Man and a Forest Fairy who will own a fantastic house will give gifts and sweetness to children.

Trade shops located near to the estate also will considerably be extended on time of New Year's holidays. Guests of the Grandfather Frost can test traditional local fares there - pancakes with honey, tea from grasses and, certainly, shish kebabs.
November 23, 2007 Website "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"" What will we offer to a tourist tomorrow?

The first day of a four-day seminar for guides working with tourists in the region of Belovezhskaya Pushcha started from visiting the museum of Belarusian culture in the Polish town of Hajnowka. The Polish party has prepared a diverse program to teach the guides. It includes a meeting with local authorities, a visiting tourist objects and pedestrian excursions in the Pushcha. The acquaintance of the participants of the seminar with village farms for tourists located nearby to the reserved forest was, however, especially impressing. It is known that many Belarusians live in the area of Bialystok. And the way in which our countrymen carefully keep and propagandize Belarusian traditions is praiseworthy.

Our region also has an own brand. As it is said, village farms for tourists, this is well but We also have something to teach others. The Polish guides were convinced of it by visiting our region with the similar purpose.

Taisia Skuratova.
The second and third pictures show village corners in the Kamenyuki secondary ecological school. The photos made by the author

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November 22, 2007 Website "The European Radio for Belarus" A European Diploma taken away: will it not be given back to Belovezhskaya Pushcha?

On Monday a representative Belarusian delegation will struggle in Strasbourg for returning a prestigious European Diploma to Belovezhskaya Pushcha. However, a chance to return the Diploma is zero because, as the Euro-Radio has found out, no one of the conditions was fulfilled by us.

The validity of the Diploma has come to the end in September of 30th and the Council of Europe has not prolonged it for the following five years. Journalists were then assured in the press centre of the Ministry of Nature Protection that no one took away the Diploma from Belovezhskaya Pushcha - this question was not considered at the session of the Council of Europe because of technical reasons. The consideration was rescheduled on November 26 to 29.

One week prior to this date Dmitriy Bernatskiy, a deputy director on science, told to the Euro-Radio that a hitch is because of absence of a long-term plan of management of the National Park. If there is no such the document, the Council of Europe does not give the Diploma to the Park. Interestingly, the Europeans have specified this issue to us five years ago. Dmitriy Bernatskiy justifies this as they could not prepare the plan because they carried out other condition of the Council of Europe.

Dmitriy Bernatskiy "We have fulfilled one of the recommendations a substantial enlargement of the territory. We were engaged in this within three years. This process was ended in 2004. So, there is no sense to develop the plan for the former territory".

The Institute of Zoology of the National Academy of Sciences has begun to develop the plan only a few months ago. To the question of the Euro-Radio about what they were doing within last three years, the deputy director on science cannot answer.

Moreover, the long-term plan of management of the Park is not only the condition by the Council of Europe we have not fulfilled. The Euro-Radio has found out that Mr. Eckhart Kuiken, an independent expert from the Belgian Research Institute of Nature and Forest has visited the Belovezhskaya Pushcha in August of 2006. This scientist has stated to the administration of Belovezhskaya Pushcha those remarks which will be now under considered in the Council of Europe. The expert was afflicted with a lack of "an ecological corridor" between Polish and Belarusian parts of the Pushcha. This corridor is necessary to enable animals freely moving.

Dmitriy Bernatskiy says that it's difficult to make such the corridor because it requires agreeing this issue with the frontier guard. This can be possible only next year.

Dmitriy Bernatskiy "The fact is that this question is ticklish This is the state border, moreover, the border between Belarus and European Union. An opinion of the frontier guard also should be taken into account".

Next Thursday, on November 29, it will be precisely known whether the Council of Europe will return the Diploma to Belovezhskaya Pushcha or not. In the press centre of the Ministry of Nature Protection is expected that our imposing delegation will make change European officials' mind that it was objectively impossible to fulfill all conditions. Alena Penyaz, a press-secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection, is sure that the Diploma already in our pocket.

Alena Penyaz "I consider that we can get this Diploma because the Republic of Belarus is now represented by a quite imposing delegation. Galina Volchuga, our Deputy Minister, and Igor Kachanovskiy, a head of the Department of Protected Natural Complexes and Nature Use at the Property Management Department of the President, as well as Nikolai Bambiza personally, a director of the Reserve, are going to the Council of Europe".

The Euro-Radio "What will we present that to make change the opinion of the Council of Europe? Do you think that we will get forgiveness for a lack of the plan by sending the imposing delegation?"

Alena Penyaz (a pause) "There is well No one will forgive it to us. But I consider that the fact of our personal participation in the session will be taken into account. And secondly, important arguments are submitted that not to lose the Diploma".

How Belarus benefits from the Diploma? The Euro-Radio has addressed this question to Vitaliy Korenchuk, a head of the Department of Wild Nature Protection of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection.

"This is a status of Belarus. This demonstrates how well the work on protection of natural ecosystems is today organized in the country, how well they are conserved and how well all complex of measures on preservation of biological and landscape diversity is executed.

Ekaterina Ermolova

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To listen to the audio-file of this news in Belarusian (mp3, 4 Mb) - http://www.belradio.fm/attachment/000001224.mp3
November 22, 2007 BP-21 Century Website News Service A sitting of the court to hear an administrative legal case for slander against Heorhi Kazulka, a public activist for protection of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, to be failed parties to come to an amicable agreement of lawsuit

As earlier informed, an administrative legal case for slander was brought in the court against Heorhi Kazulka, a public activist for protection of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. A short news-publication about poaching and illegal cuttings in Belovezhskaya Pushcha he has written has become the reason to initiate this.

A sitting of the court dated appointed on the 8th of November did not take place. The parties have come to an amicable agreement of lawsuit - the plaintiff has withdrawn a suit from the court while Heorhi Kazulka has published his apologies and has compensated costs suffered by the plaintiff.

Heorhi Kazulka has explained this episode as the following:
"I indeed have made annoying inaccuracies in that publication and I have already expressed my apologies. I can only add that those who are doing nothing do not make any mistake. On the other hand, this incident has shown that not only direct participants of the case but also other parties involved are today not interested in the official judicial process on the matter of law observance in Belovezhskaya Pushcha which can receive publicity. One may realize that too many black businesses will be touched and many people will be involved if such the process will be starting.

I will not analyze here in detail that case of poaching. If to distract from purely legal issues, is not essential who of officials shot or only was nearby, especially since the suspects gave false evidences, then changed them as an opposite. Another thing is important. It is fact that these people, be it a forest officer, or a forest warden, or other official, are somehow or other involved in the offence and this makes them morally and professionally responsible. Everything is here clear to a normal man.

As regards cuttings, this situation is more interesting. I order to verify given facts, an investigation team from the Kamenetz District Office of the Ministry of Internal Affair has visited the cutting site, has surveyed stumps and cutting-wood residuals and has taken appropriate documents in the National park and explanation of officials. And then has concluded that living trees were not cut down (!), illegal cuttings in the quarter 803 were not found (!) and information on the website was not confirmed (!).

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Closely having learned materials of investigation concerning the fact of illegal cuttings of ash trees, I have come to a conclusion that the investigation by militia was being carried out like by dilatants. All my proofs were ignored. For example, still green or recently dried leafs on branches of the cut down ash trees are well visible on photos, whereas the conclusion is made that "living trees were not cut down". In the task-wood-cutting document, the form of felling "clearing the forest from dead wood" is specified and felling of softwood trees (alder is a basic species) is permitted. However, ash trees (a hardwood species) were actually felled in most cases. Other proofs were also ignored. Skilful and independent experts in the field of forestry were not involved in the investigation. Workers of the National park who gave evidence and furnish explanations were apparently under pressure (they have short-term labour contracts). Militiamen, they are not experts in the field of forestry and nature protection, of course, could not independently make the correct and qualified conclusion.

In this connection I would like to say the following. The last circumstance, namely not skilful investigation of felling of living protected forest made by militia and the attempt to institute juridical proceedings against me, constrain to estimate the situation in another way and put a task radically to change the tactics of the public campaign for protection of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. I earlier stated the task to myself to give publicity to facts of illegal activities on destruction or damage to the protected forest of Belovezhskaya Pushcha in the hope that this will stop malefactors, will prevent the further illegal activity and will save the Pushcha. There was success to some extent. However, the basic task - to conserve wild nature of Belovezhskaya Pushcha could not be achieved as in principle. Besides, the National park is at a so-called deadlock concerning a number of dramatic issues. There is the only legal way, not excepting involvement of appropriate top-state bodies, to end this deadlock. The situation in Belovezhskaya Pushcha should be radically changed. And I am going to prove that the legislation of Belarus and conservation of Belovezhskaya Pushcha are beyond someone's mercenary interests and ambitions. I believe that there will be many people who will help me achieve this."

This was the explanatory and statement made by Heorhi Kazulka.

Tatiana Nikolaeva
November 20, 2007 Website "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"" A 2007 GIS Day

The international public has marked by celebration a GIS World Day on November 14.

Every year in different corners of our planet, those who relates in some way to geo-technologies gather and make up a holiday in which they try to inform all wishing about how significant and greatly important are modern GIS (Geographical Information Systems), both for the society and the environment.

Big American companies and organizations (the National Geographical Society, USGS, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, ESRI etc.) which realized the task to acquaint people with opportunities given for GIS users have offered to celebrate this holiday.

Few years ago a decision was accepted to mark the GIS Day annually by celebration and, within its framework, to conduct various measures - exhibitions, seminars and open house days - during one week where students, pupils and anyone wishing get acquainted with last achievements in the field of the geo-computer science.

Over 700 companies and organizations from 78 countries have joined this measure this year. The State Nature Protection Institution "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" which will organize actions devoted to the GIS Day for the second time is not the exception either.

Last year, in the local Kamenyuki secondary ecological school, we made for participants from the Children's public ecological organization "EcoPolis" a number of presentations showing opportunities and importance of the GIS for protection of biological diversity of the unique forests of Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

The GIS is given big attention to develop in the National Park. On November 14 of this year, "an impromptu round table" was organized for Park's employees who are interested in applying this software to solve various nature protection tasks and problems of the National Park.

Vyacheslav Sipach
Photo by the author and Vyacheslav Kravchuk, both are employees of the State Nature Protection Institution "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha".

November 20, 2007 Electronic dispatch "Eco_Rus" An experience from our neighbours: The campaign to protect Ukrainian bison to end in victory

The campaign to defend Ukrainian bison which the Kiev Ecological and Cultural Centre started last year has ended in victory. The overall objective of the campaign was to abolish the unlawful Regulation on shooting bison for selection purposes issued by the Ministry of Nature Protection of Ukraine which served a base for foreign and Ukrainian hunters to kill about 200 bison in Ukraine for the last 15 years. In order to abolish this Regulation, the initiators of the campaign have involved the General Office of Public Prosecutor of Ukraine, the Economic Court of the city of Kiev and mass-media.

The General Office of Public Prosecutor has supported the defenders of bison and has declared that the Regulation on shooting bison for selection contradicts the Laws of Ukraine. However, the Ministry of Nature Protection of Ukraine continued to resist for some time and the First Deputy Minister Kurilenko has even declared in live to the TV Inter Channel that foreign hunters will shot bison like they did it before. However, being afraid to lose a court action, the Ministry of Nature Protection was compelled to accept rightfulness of public organizations and today, on the twentieth of November of 2007, V.Dzharty, the Minister of Nature Protection of Ukraine, has signed an Order to abolish this illegal Regulation on shooting bison for selection.

Thus, the effectively working corrupt machine created in Ukraine for commercial shooting of bison under the guise of "selection" was destroyed by us. Bison will live. We thank everyone who has rendered assistance and has helped us.

Vladimir Boreiko,
the director of the Kiev Ecological and Cultural Centre
November 16, 2007 "Narodnaya Gazeta" (The Peoples Newspaper) Newspaper, No 224 How are things in national parks?

Every year more and more people visit Belarusian national parks and the Biosphere Reserve. Galina Zaburianova, a head of the Department of the Sector of Tourism Development at the Property Management Department of the President of the Republic of Belarus, has given an eloquent example. In 1992, 25 thousand tourists have visited the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha". This figure has reached the level of 188 thousand in 2006 while about 200 thousand tourists will visit Belovezhskaya Pushcha this year. The Berezinski Biosphere Reserve annually accepts about 25 thousand people, not indifferent to the beauty of intact nature. At least 60 thousand tourists have visited the National Park "Narochanski" for eight months this year. There is no system to monitor spontaneous tourists in the National Park "Braslav Lakes", while according to official data, over 8 thousand people have had a rest there last year.
November 07, 2007 Informational Agency "BelaPAN" A plan of measures to celebrate the 600th anniversary of Belovezhskaya Pushcha

The text of the decree of the President of the Republic of Belarus  page 1
Minsk, November 7. A plan of measures to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" in 2009 makes ready. Galina Zaburianova, a deputy of the head of the Department of Protected Natural Complexes and Nature Use of the Property Management Department of the President of Belarus, informed to the BelaPAN that the plan will be submitted to the Council of Ministers for the 9th of December.

According to Mrs. G.Zaburianova, the plan includes 60 items. In particular, a big list of measures concerning reconstruction and building is scheduled in the document. At present time, works in "The Estate of Belarusian Grandfather Frost" are already conducted. Artificial blanket-snowing and illumination like on the French Elysian Fields will be made and a new cafe will be open there. Besides, a centre of ecological education and a new museum of nature will be built in the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha". The concept of the museum has 9 sections including ones on history, archeology and riches of the Bialowieza Forest considering it as a nature protection object and a nature protection institution. Each of the sections will occupy few halls. Within the framework of the plan, reconstruction of enclosures with wild animals and putting the territory in order is also proposed.

G.Zaburianova has noted that new routes will be created in "Belovezhskaya Pushcha". In particular, it is planned that in the future one can pass "the imperial road" by coaching or by going in a cabriolet. At the same time she has emphasized that it is necessary to be rather careful with expansion of routes. "Of course, no one will walk in reserved areas", the expert has told. "The routes which are currently under exploitation are quite diverse and they allow to get acquainted with the unique forest of Belovezhskaya Pushcha".

The National park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha", according to its official website, is located within the Grodno and Brest regions of Belarus and covers the area of 163,505 hectares. The National Park's west to east width is 10 - 50 km, and that from north to south is over 60 km. "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" first of the territories of the former USSR, was inscribed on a List of World Natural and Cultural Heritage Sites in 1992.

According to G.Zaburianova, seven tourist routes are now used in the National park, four of which are of ecological orientation. "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" has served 116,000 tourists for the nine months of this year.
November 07, 2007 Website "Saint Nickolai's Orthodox Parish in Bialowieza" Private keeping bison (Poland)

Bison of the Bialowieza Forest will get private keeping. The private keeping and breeding of bison, first in Poland, will be created in Kiermusy nearby Tykocin.

There are quite lots of rules which an enclosure's owner shall follow and all of them are target at the king of forest to make it conditions in Kiermusy not worse than in the Bialowieza Forest.

The enclosure in Kiermusy is almost ready. Seven hectares are fenced with a solid two-meter grid. All this is placed near to a hotel complex.

Bison will be delivered there in spring. There will be four animals among the first. They are three she-bison from the Bialowieza national park and one he-bison from Niepolomicy. Before this a special commission will provide an estimation of the conditions in the enclosure. Bison should have enough of space. Installations for watering, nutrition and isolation in case if the quarantine are necessary to make. As to guardians of the animals, they will pass a special training. The permanent care from the outside of a veterinary and the supervision of experts will also be necessary.

The information source: TVP3 Bialystok
November 06, 2007 Website "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"" Bison to help to archaeologists in Belovezhskaya Pushcha

The northern part along the river of Narev from the village of Brovsk to the village of Borki of the Svisloch district got not less interesting to members of an archeological expedition which conduct a dig in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Numerous fragments of clay-made crockery and silicon implements - scrapers, knifes, cutters found on sites of more than ten settlements and dated back to the Mesolithic times - allow to clarify the features of not only the historical epoch but also the way of life and culture of our remote ancestors. Researches have shown that our ancestors settled on dry and high places near to rivers and water reservoirs winning vital for their life lands from forests by primitive implements. It's interesting that both the northern and the southern grounds contiguous to the Pushcha have been settled in the same time and the culture of tribe had no essential distinctions.

Archeologists had again to return to the banks of the River of Pravaya Lesnaya (Right Forest River) last days of November to renew there digs. A new finding, a stone-drilled axe which was applied as a weapon in the second millennium BC, was the reason to do this. Alexei Bunevich, a senior researcher of the National park, PhD of Biology, (on the photo below, he is demonstrating an arrow-head, one of his findings) got to be a guide for the expedition this time. This is because his wards - bison - have helped the historians to find out one more site belonging to the Bronze Age where ancient people lived.

It is said that great discoveries occur by any occasion. This expression is very close to our event. There was the following. Forest giants have chosen to themselves a small hill in the Pasukovskoe forest area where animals found a great pleasure in taking "sandy baths". Alexei Bunevich, a scientist and an expert on bison, caring out scheduled researches and walking with being close on the heels of animals, has hit strange objects which were dug by powerful horns and hoofs of the forest aborigines. Stones with sharp bits and drilled apertures which are rather similar to a modern axe, as well silicon arrow-heads were scattered all over. And pieces of broken clay crockery were plentifully fertilized with bison excrements. How did they happen to know that these splinters of clay pots are of such historical value? They are owners on the territory of the Pushcha and, therefore, they mark it as diverse as they want.

The research employee has brought his findings to archeologists and has shown a site where he found them. Scientists had to ask bison temporarily to step aside that to begin digging of the hill and more carefully to investigate the area.

Vadim Lakiza, a permanent manager of the expedition and a head of the Department of Archeology of the Institute of History of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Belarus, (on the picture below, he is from the right, together with Vadim Belevtsov on the river Narev's bank) has told that stone axes served ancient people as a weapon and it was given to young men, warriors. These "military armour" often, when buried, were put together with a dead man. Fedor Kachko, a villager from Tushemlya, has found a similar axe (on the photo above) near the village of Borki. The historians should find out whether the discovered stone-drilled axes and arrow-heads belong to an ancient settlement or a burial place, and should also tell to us how a primitive man manually drilled an absolutely round aperture in the stone and marked the internal surface of the axe by lines reminding a groove.

Historical findings dated back to the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages (by the way, objects of the last century, because of a forest being as a natural obstacle, are very rare) will tell to an inexperienced student of local lore a lot of interesting knowledge about remote times. This is about with whom valiant locals waged war a few thousand years ago and how they defended themselves from enemies, animals and natural catastrophes. What they dressed, what household things they used and what craft they developed. It is not difficult to imagine how much power and endurance a primitive man used that to survive when being in permanent struggle with famine and cold, with predators populated Belovezhskaya Pushcha and foreign conquerors. To make a simple instrument even such as a stone axe was extremely uneasy.

Taisia Skuratova, Belovezhskaya Pushcha
Photo by Vadim Lakiza and Alexei Bunevich
November 06, 2007 BP-21 Century Website News Service An administrative legal action for slander to bring in the court against Heorhi Kazulka, a public activist for protection of Belovezhskaya Pushcha

A short news-publication "A woman suspecting of illigal hunting proved to be close to the administration of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"" which Heorhi Kazulka published on the website "Belovezhskaya Pushcha 21 Century" on July 03, 2007 has become the reason to initiate this. In that news the author called the name of the she-forestry officer of the Korolevo-Mostovskoe forest area who, according to original information, together with her husband participated in an illegal hunting (poaching) for a red deer and a wild boar on the territory of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. It was subsequently found out that this information does not correspond to a final verdict of the Kamenetz district court. In this connection the forestry officer of the Korolevo-Mostovskoe forest area has lodged a complaint to the militia district office with the request to examine the published information for veracity and to make Heorhi Kazulka's answer for slander. The militia has carried out the investigation. It was refused to institute criminal proceedings. An administrative legal case under clause 9.2 of the Administrative Code of the Republic of Belarus was instituted. If guilty, the defendant is threatened with the penalty from 10 to 30 base rates (from 310,000 to 930,000 Belarusian rubles, that is equivalent of approximately 145 to 435 US $).

Heorhi Kazulka has explained this episode as the following: "I have written this news one and a half month later after the Belarusian press including central state newspapers have given information that "a woman and her husband, both foresters, have illegally shot a red deer and a wild boar " and that the Kamenetz prosecutor office has instituted criminal proceedings under clause of the Criminal Code "Illegal hunting". I spent this time as much as to verify and to confirm from employees of Belovezhskaya Pushcha and persons involved in investigation of this criminal case whether this information is reliable or not. I have therefore specified in the article a post of the suspected woman, have called her name and have also pointed other offences, in particular, illegal cuttings of living ash trees which were conducted on the territory of the Korolevo-Mostovskoe forest area. It has subsequently turned that Zinaida Sereda, a forestry officer of the Korolevo-Mostovskoe forest area, has participated in the sitting of the court as a witness of this criminal case, not as a prisoner at the bar. Her husband Alexei Sereda was convicted and sentenced to two years' home arrest, not to imprisonment.

In this connection I publicly apology to Zinaida Sereda for incorrect information published on the website. As soon as I have learned about the inaccuracy, the text of the publication on the website was immediately corrected.

I also want to note some circumstances when the publication had been writing. First, I was too confided in information sources which proved to be not exactly right. Secondly, it has turned that Zinaida Sereda, when to be under investigation, actually gave original evidence against herself that she participated in the illegal hunting for wild animals. The official press referring to the Informational Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has written this information, as well as my sources informed me about this. However, at a later date, she has refused to testify against herself and has given new evidences that she was not involved in poaching. I didn't know this. As a result, her husband was only returned guilty of commission of the crime. Thirdly, information that I have written in the article is not personal squabbles, not partition of the property, not selfish ends. This is a public campaign to protect Belovezhskaya Pushcha, a sacred place of Belarusians, from people who have encroached upon this relic. And the fact when the head of the forest area, even if she is being on maternity leave, was returned by the investigation team and by the court of being not implicated in the illegal act of shooting at animals does not relieve her of moral and professional responsibility because her husband, a forest warden of this forest area, was engaged in illegal hunting and skins of a red deer and a wild boar when searching were found in her apartments. Actually, from the point of view of professional and moral approaches, this is the partnership, even if it is not public wrong, and the assistance of the serious crime. Only one fact that, instead of protection and preservations of fauna of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, the officials are engaged or are involved in the offences mentioned above, says in itself about both moral and professional features. Everything is here clear to a normal man.

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In addition to information about the illegal hunting for a deer and a wild boar, the problem concerning illegal cutting down of living forest, including illegal felling of living ash trees was described. The basic materials and facts of private investigation concerning this offence are described in detail in the section "Photo-fact" on the page "Cutting down living ash trees of old age in protected compartments, 2005". The plaintiff also accuses me of slander for this episode. I already wrote that some inaccuracies which were made in the previous text change nothing as regards of the issues and the problem, in particular, of illegal or conducted against the rules cuttings of living protected forest on the territory of the Korolevo-Mostovskoe forest area. Certainly, the talking wasn't about that the forestry officer personally using a chainsaw sawed huge ashes. The talking was about that this serious offence was made within the territory of the Korolevo-Mostovskoe forest area she headed. The forestry officer is finally responsible for this. Even these cuttings have been conducted as unauthorized by workers of the forest area, without permission given by the forestry officer, a lack of control from the forestry officer, a lack of investigation and revealing persons guilty or involved in the crime is actually a serious infringement of the Forest Code of the Republic of Belarus and the Law "On especially protected territories and objects". This is because the extraction of old ashes with valuable wood has been conducted at the heart of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, let's say, in broad daylight.

To examine given facts, an investigation team from the Kamenetz District Office of the Ministry of Internal Affair has visited the cutting site, has conducted a survey of stumps and cutting wood residuals and has taken appropriate documents in the National park and explanation of officials. And the team has then concluded that living trees were not cut down (!), that illegal cuttings in the quarter 803 were not found (!) and that information on the website was not confirmed (!).

Closely having learned materials of investigation concerning the fact of illegal cuttings of ash trees, I have come to a conclusion that the investigation by militia was being carried out like by dilatants. All my proofs were ignored. For example, still green or recently dried leafs on branches of the cut down ash trees are well visible on photos, whereas the conclusion is made that "living trees were not cut down". In the task-wood-cutting document, the form of felling "clearing the forest from dead wood" is specified and felling of softwood trees (alder is a basic species) is permitted. However, ash trees (a hardwood species) were actually felled in most cases. Other proofs were also ignored. Skilful and independent experts in the field of forestry were not involved in the investigation. Workers of the National park who gave evidence and furnish explanations were apparently under pressure (they have short-term labour contracts). Militiamen, they are not experts in the field of forestry and nature protection, of course, could not independently make the correct and qualified conclusion.

In this connection I would like to declare the following. The last circumstance, namely not skilful investigation of felling of living protected forest made by militia and the upcoming legal process against me, radically changes the public campaign for protection of Belovezhskaya Pushcha in the near future. I earlier stated the task to myself to give publicity to facts of illegal activities on destruction or damage to the protected forest of Belovezhskaya Pushcha in the hope that this will stop malefactors, will prevent the further illegal activity and will save the Pushcha. Now, if the legal process against me will be taking place, it gives me all legal and moral grounds to address with a counter-claim to institute criminal proceedings against those who participated or co-participated in illegal activity on the territory of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. This does not concern only to the case of felling of living ash trees described above but also to a number of other offences, first of all made on the territory of the Korolevo-Mostovskoe forest area where I gathered most of facts, proofs and documents. Otherwise the situation comes to ridiculous lengths - those whom the public accuses of participation in infringement of nature protection legislation and in destruction of the reserved forest of Belovezhskaya Pushcha judge the man who struggles for observance of this legislation and for conservation of Belovezhskaya Pushcha.

With all this going on and taking into account that the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park is subordinated to the Property Management Department of the President of the Republic of Belarus which make impossible to investigate the cases like these by strength of local law machinery, a claim will be sent to the General Prosecutor Office of the Republic of Belarus and to the Committee of State Control of the Republic of Belarus.

It is getting especially urgent on the threshold of preparation to celebrate the 600-th anniversary of the nature protection status of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, the start to which was given after the signing a special order by the President of the Republic of Belarus. The Republic of Belarus should approach with dignity to this anniversary and should show to countries all over the world the proper protected status and the real legality on the territory of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, not their imitation and hidden-covering offenders. This is because these people actually are authors of the decision made by Council of Europe to suspend the validity of a prestigious award, a European Diploma. Everything else is only diplomacy of how formulate texts well.

In this regard I am even content with to a certain extent that, due to the legal claim against me, the official inquiry into one of the episodes of cuttings committed an infraction of nature protection legislation was begun. This is because this investigation has allowed obtaining a number of new valuable proofs and documents including by asking honest workers of the National park (there are still such people there) that clarify some facts of cuttings of the protected forest conducted against the legislation. I do not exclude that the administration of the National park is "behind this legal process's back". The administration, in the way of using its employee, can try to force me to become silent. But does the worker really think or hope that the administration will defend him all the time? In fact, as soon as the situation will take an bad turn to the administration, "switchmen" and "screws" will be accused first of all.

A historical information. From 1845 to 1848, about 13,000 best pine trees were extracted in Belovezhskaya Pushcha to the Trade House "Thompson & Bonar", and A.Herzen and O.Ogarev afterwards angrily wrote about that fact in the newspaper "Kolokol" (The Bell). Dear colleagues! The time has come to begin one more "A Temporary Managers' Dense Business", the today's managers this time. In this connection I want to ask everyone who worries about the future of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, first of all local inhabitants and employees of the National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" to help and support my efforts. Enough to sit "in holes" doing nothing. Enough to participate with the connivance and help today's casual managers destroy Belovezhskaya Pushcha and oppress the local population. The time has come to rule your destiny and the destiny of Belovezhskaya Pushcha doing it yourself. From my side, I am going to prove that the legislation of Belarus and conservation of Belovezhskaya Pushcha are beyond someone's mercenary interests and ambitions. I believe that there will be many people who will help me achieve this."

This was the explanatory and statement made by Heorhi Kazulka. The sitting of the court on the matter of the administrative legal action against Heorhi Kazulka is set on November 8, 2007. We will further inform you how the events are developing.

Tatiana Nikolaeva
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The photos show the field investigation made by militia on the site of felling of living ash trees, the compartment 803.
November 06, 2007 Website "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha"" A Bernatskiy's pine tree

When being carried out scheduled researches in the forest of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, namely in the strictly reserved zone, scientific employees of the National Park have found out a couple of unique trees which age forces to be paralyzed with respect looking at the Nature Majesty. Winds and blizzards scudded over crones of the giants within more than three centuries, hot weather dried up grounds and pest-insects tried many times to fall down the giants, however, contrary to all troubles, the patriarchies of the Pushcha continue to be a part of the history of one of the most old forest on the planet Earth.

The pine tree shown on the picture is a respectable resident which overcame through natural catastrophes and wars over few centuries, through strong royal and imperial hunt campaigns and threats to be under the axe in the 30-th of the XIX century when about 3,000 largest oak and pine trees were cut down for the Russian Sea Department . Perhaps, its young age (our beauty was "just" 170 years old plus a little more at that time) has saved the tree from destruction or the place where the tree grew - far from roads and greedy eyes - became the reason it was rescued. If the Pushcha had not kept prestige of the best imperial hunting land, it would also be difficult to predict the destiny of this and other old trees.

Year after year the pine lost its smooth bark becoming coarser. Its trunk was covered with lumps. However, these age changes have given to the tree a special feature of the shape and have had nothing to prevent admiring with natural beauty and vitality of this patriarch. Two men, if they join hands, cannot embrace the tree while the green crone can cover many of forest inhabitants protecting them from the bad weather.

Old trees which number in Belovezhskaya Pushcha is more than one thousand and fife hundred have a special energy. They draw the eyes, radiate impulses going from the depth of centuries and fill a body and heart with curative aroma of resinous needles, vivifying power to feel himself as a part of great sacrament of the Universe.

Taisia Skuratova, Belovezhskaya Pushcha
Photo by Dmitriy Bernatskiy
November 03, 2007 Website "Saint Nickolai's Orthodox Parish in Bialowieza" A frontier crossing in Bialowieza to award (Poland)

A jury of the department of the Polish Union of Building Engineers and Technicians from the city of Bialostock has selected winners of competition "2006 Building" in the northeast region on late October. In the category of objects of public applicability, a wooden construction of the international Polish-Belausian frontier crossing in the village of Bialowieza was the most pleasant to the jury.

The building is ideally designed to be blended in the environment of the Bialowieza Forest and simultaneously does not brake its functional purposes, Witold Zalewski, a chairman of the competition jury, gives reason for the decision().

The information source: Gazeta Wyborcza Bialystok
On the photo, the frontier crossing in the village of Bialowieza
November 02, 2007 Newspaper "Gazeta Wyborcza" The Bialowieza national park to take the rap for the government (Poland)

The Council of Europe has suspended a European Diploma which was given to the Bialowieza national park. It should be a signal for authorities that eventually to begin to protect the Bialowieza Forest.

The Bialowieza national park covers only 16 percents of the Polish part of the Bialowieza Forest to preserve it. The rest of the Forest is under management of the State Forests. For example, the Royal Oaks' Path which is not under the strict reservation is their part. The Council of Europe wants that Poland should have changed such the situation.

Only two of twenty Polish national parks the Bialowieza and the Bieszczady - could be praised till October for this prestigious document given by the Council of Europe.

The Bialowieza Forest - a natural treasure and a last natural wood of Europe has just lost its award. "Formally, this is suspension of the validity of the Diploma. It is possible to get the Diploma back if two conditions will be executed. However, no one of them depends on us", Renata Krzysciak-Kosinska, a head of the research department of the Bialowieza national park, says. And she then quotes from the substantiation of the decision made by the Council of Europe "Despite the fact that the park, on the whole, deserves this award, the authorities of all levels should make clear to themselves that it is necessary to stop commercial use of any protected forest stands within the territory of the Bialowieza Forest".

The first condition is to draw up the ten years' plan on protection for the territory of the park. This kind of document was developed seven years ago that makes it to be actual for some time. However, this plan is not in power obligatory to be executing. This is because no one minister of environment had signed it.

"And it will not be signed soon. Laws and orders concerning this sort of plans are constantly changed. The today's Minister promised that an appropriate order will be expected in two years", Janusz Korbel, a member of the Scientific Council of the park is helplessly at a loss how to react.

The second condition is to turn the status of all reserves within the territory of the Bialowieza Forest to strict reservation. This is because the national park keeps only 16 percent of the Polish part of the Bialowieza Forest. The rest of the Forest is under control of the State Forests.

Theoretically, these territories have a special status. However, it does not exclude cutting down, often in the reserves as well. One thousand spruce trees aged nearly hundred years and grown on the area of the Szafer's Demonstration Reserve got under axe. Foresters assert that it was done in the framework of struggle against bark beetles.

Jan Szyszko, the retiring minister of Environment, wants to reverse the decision by the Council of Europe and to achieve restoration of the validity of the Diploma, but for all not to hold its obligations. We know from employees of the park that the Ministry wants to be defended by arguments that, as they say, objections concern the areas of outside the park.

"The National park is not an isolated island. It is impossible to consider what is going in the Park's territory independently of the fact what is doing in the adjacent areas", Eckhart Kuiken, a Dutch nature conservators, has told when he carried out an audit on behalf of the Council of Europe last year. The audit was necessary to prolong the validity of the Diploma for the next five years. At that time he already warned that the Bialowieza national park will lose the Diploma if the Polish authorities will not change their approach to the Bialowieza Forest.

"The Minister was aware of this about during the year and made nothing, while arguments he currently uses will only compromise him. Even children of a primary school already are aware of the fact that ecosystems do not know man-made borders, even minister-made ones", one of scientific employees of the park says in a chafe.

He says it anonymously because the park is subordinated to the Ministry of Environment, together with the State Forests.

Jakub Medek, Bialystok
November 01, 2007 Website "Travel.ru" To have a rest in Belovezhskaya Pushcha is getting popular


Belovezhskaya Pushcha attracts tourists because of its
unique nature. // outdoors.ru
According to forecasts by representatives of the Sector of Tourism Development of the Property Management Department of the President of the Republic of Belarus, about 200 thousand tourists will visit Belovezhskaya Pushcha this year. Every year the reserve become more and more popular - about 25 thousand visitors have come to the unique national park in 1992, there were 180 thousand in 2000 and there were 188 thousand tourists in 2006.

In 2009 the famous Belarusian reserve will celebrate the 600th anniversary since the first protection. This date will be included in a UNESCO's calendar of memorials. A new museum will be built in Belovezhskaya Pushcha in the anniversary year, and memorable coins will be produced.

It is interesting that national parks and the Berezinski Biosphere Reserve cover about 6 percent of the territory of Belarus, while, for example, in Finland 33 national parks make about 2.3 percent of the area of the country, in USA about 340 protected areas occupy only 3 percent, the website of the Embassy of the Republic of Belarus informs.
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BP-21 Century website editor's note
An error was made as regards the statement "national parks and the biosphere reserve cover about 6 percent of the territory of Belarus". This figure (or more preciously about 8 percent) belongs to all of 1,467 especially protected natural areas (EPNA) including 555 protected areas of special purposes and 909 natural monuments. They cover (on the 1st January of 2007) 1.7 million hectares. The surface of the biosphere reserve and national parks make about 2.3 percent, while their strictly reserved zones occupy less than 1 percent of the territory of the country. And the general picture is not so much beautiful.