IN THIS ISSUE:
Unique European Forest Logged in Belarus
Belovezhskaya Pushcha Is Sold For Export
Belovezhskaya Pushcha is one of the oldest remains of European forests
with centuries old trees.
Belovezhskaya Pushcha (Belarus), the UNESCO's Area of World Heritage
is under the threat of complete destruction because of current methods
of "managing" by this protected area. The new "managers", who were
appointed on the posts of the heads of the park, give orders to cut
live forest, send old-growth pines and spruces to saw mill, where it
turns into timber, and sale it including for export.
In 1994, when the National park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" (dense forest)
was handed over to the command of the Administrative department of the
President of Belarus, the park has began to turn into commercial use, the intensive economic activity to receive commercial income had
started there. The directors had been appointed to the park, who had
no relation before to reserves and nature conservation at all.
Gradually the national park was turned into a kind of agricultural,
commercial and industrial complex.
The culmination of all this story in 1998 became the project of
construction of the large wood-working shop in the Kamenyuki village, the central manor of the park. For purchase of power-saw bench the
great sum - more than $1,5 millions was taken credit. However the
plan have not justified itself, and the park has got into debts.
To resolve the deadlock in May 2001 the new heads of the
Administrative department of the President has appointed Nikolay
Bambiza on the post of the general director of the park. Mr. Bambiza
is well known to the Belorussian public after scandalous publications
about cutting down of unique Pripyat flood-plain oak woods when he was
the general director of Pripyat national park (by the way, under his
management in this park also the big woodworking enterprise was built).
Since the his first days of work Nikolay Bambiza had imposed to the
reserve (which has old traditions of nature conservation) the policy
of a timber enterprise: to cut down live forest. The new head of
reserve after his first visit to the Pushcha had ordered to cut down
the old trees with signs of diseases, shrinkage of tops and weakening.
The foresters were shocked with such turn-up.
In addition to that all, the burst of mass reproduction of trunk
vermin of spruce - the timber-beetle - had began. The instruction was
given to clear-cut the damaged areas. In these areas live forest which
is situated in a natural managing area was included. It was done
without any official sanction, even without coordination with Academic
Council of the park and the Academy of Sc ience.
Then the management decided to introduce the timber enterprise methodsof forestry and to organize final sanitary fellings in Primeval
forest. The commission was created in a hurry, the clear-cut of the
first 50 hectares in protected area was substantiated, the sanction of
the Ministry of Nature Resources and the Ministry of Forestry Economy
was received. The ecologists and journalists, gathered at this time on
seminar on ecotourism have saved the situation.
Not only nature is responsible for the mass affection of spruce-groves
of Belovezhskaya Pushcha by timber-beetle. The commission have
revealed many troubles of the technology of logging in conditions of
affection by timber-beetle. Within months the wood from allotments was
not taken out. Though there was no official sanction for sanitary
clear-cuts of forest, the woodcutters under a verbal order of the
director already logged live trees, which had no even slightest signs
of affection by beetle.
No measures were undertaken for pest control except clear-cuts. In
especially protected areas in Europe loggings are not conducted in
general for conservation of the biological diversity. The nature copes
with bursts of number of bark beetles by itself. Nevertheless,
destruction of Belovezhskaya Pushcha proceeds. Those who has not
agreed with policy of the new administration of the park, including
the most competent experts, were simply fired. Access of public and
journalists in Belovezhskaya Pushcha is practically closed now. In
addition the management forbid the workers of the park to give even
the most usual information. The loggings of live forest weren't stopped, they are classified as a secret now.
In the spring 2002 as the trap trees for the bark beetle 3500 cubic
meters of spruce were cut down. For this purpose, however, not theworst small-dimension trees were taken, but and excellent old-growth
forest was cut down. As a result, hundreds of old trees were logged,
absolutely healthy and generically most valuable, among them there
were spruce-giants. Exactly these trees create uniqueness of Belovezhskaya Pushcha.
Old live pines with wood of best quality are also cut down. In the
summer there were loggings of these trees on the area of the windfall
during cleaning of the forest after hurricane. In the autumn the mass
cutting down of giant pines had began. Now complete cutting down of
the best old-growth forest goes with all its might.
Even the constant plots were cut down, which within last 30-40 years
were the areas for realization of scientific monitoring. Those areas
are of great value for science and have the certificate of UNESCO
given for the biosphere reserve.
The gross breaches of technology of logging are continued in
conditions of mass reproduction of timber-beetle. The logged wood is
not taken out within months; more than 80 thousand cubic meters of
this wood are piled up on the clearings. The timber mill is also
filled up with round timber, there is no place to put it any more.
Wood decays and becomes worthless. Even trap trees were not taken out
in time and were not debarked. The question arises, what for they were
cut down then? Evidently, to breed more bark beetle?
At the same time volumes of cuts constantly increase and at the end of
2002 they made up 56600 cubic meters for quarter.
The community of Belarus and inhabitants of Belovezhskaya Pushcha
tried more than once to inform the President of Republic of Belarus,
but it hadn't resulted in any changes for the best. There is an
impression, that the head of the state receives inadequate
information, and many facts of abusing are misrepresented and kept
In January twelve journalists of Belarusian and Russian media addressed to Head of UN representative office in Belarus Neil Bune
with proposal to organize join press-tour to Belovezhskaya Pushcha
National Park. "This letter, - they write - we address, assuming our
civil and professional duty - to know the truth in order to write the
truth. This talk is about the object of World Human Heritage -
biosphere reserve "Belovezhskaya Pushcha".
Head of the UN representative office in Minsk Neil Bune agreed to take
participation in dialogs between public and Belarusian authorities on the problems of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. He declared this in Minsk on
January 13 during a meeting with the editor-in-chief of "Belovezhskaya
Pushcha" Newspaper, head of public ecological initiation "Terra-Kanvencyay" Valery Dranchuk.
For further information:
Heorhi Kazulka, the candidate of biology (Ph.D. on biology),
Kamenyuki village, Kamenetz district, Brest region, Belarus 225063 --
The Campaign for protection of Belovezhskaya Pushcha on the website of
How you can help:
In this case, the best way is to spread the word, to get the issue out
to the media. The regime in Belarus is not very cooperative, so the
best way (at least for now) is publicity.
This issue was written and complied by
Sviatoslav Zabelin - the SEU Council Co-Chair, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Olga Berlova, Alla Kapoustina <email@example.com>
Previous Issues of The SEU Times may be found at www.seu.ru/seu-news/eng
"The Online Gadfly" at
Published by Socio-Ecological Union, International Center for Coordination and Information
The SEU Times is a newsletter devoted to environmental news, events, NGO work,
within former Soviet Union territory. It is currently mailed out on special occasions.
MORE NEWS IN ENGLISH FROM SEU TERRITORY is available at Ecoport - green news project English version