Belarus names its 9th Wetland of International Importance
The Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve Ramsar Site (85,149 ha; 54°38'N 028°30'E) is also listed as a Natural Area of Strict Protection, Important Bird Area and Important Plant Area. As summarized by Kati Wenzel, this Ramsar Site is located in the northern part of the country, in the Belarusian Lakeland area. The site lies in the watershed of the Berezina and Essa river basins in three administrative districts: Lepel and Dokshitsy districts (Vitebsk region) and Borisov district (Minsk region), its nearest industrial centre being Minsk city.
The reserve is a unique complex of coniferous and broad-leaved forests, floodplain, transition mires and raised bogs, meadows, floodplain black alder and birch forests. Forested rivers and lakes cover 86.5 % of the territory. Mires have become rare in Belarus as a result of heavy drainage activities and have practically disappeared in Central Europe. The complex of the reserve’s undrained mires is one of the largest in Europe and has high-level protection.
The reserve is habitat for a number of globally threatened species such as the Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga and near-threatened species such as the Corncrake Crex crex, Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa. The site is one of the most important nesting and migration sites of wetland birds in Belarus as well as host to 185 species of animals listed in the National Red Data Book. The main factors adversely affecting the site's ecological character are periodic fires and overgrowth of mires with scrub and reed. An officially approved management plan is currently being implemented.