Belarus designates three new Sites


Belarus has named three new Ramsar sites, taking the country’s total to 16 Sites covering over 600,000 hectares. The largest is Pripyatsky National Park; like Pripyatsky, Kozyansky and Vydritsa are designated as Important Bird Areas. The Sites include bogs, peatlands, swamps and lakes, as well as rivers and their floodplains. They host bird species such as the Black Stork Ciconia nigra, Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris and the Common Crane Grus grus, and mammals such as the Eurasian Lynx, Brown Bear Ursus arctos and Eurasian Badger Meles meles.

The sites have significant value in regulating the supply and quality of water. They are appreciated for their archeological sites and the agricultural, hunting, fishing and forestry opportunities they offer. They share the threat of being over-exploited, while the ecological character of the two Sites in the south of the country may be affected by radioactive contamination which has been recorded since the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. The following site summaries have been prepared by Assistant Advisor for Europe Laura Máiz-Tomé.

Kozyansky. 29/03/2013; Vitebsk Region; 26,060 ha; 55°25’N 29°22’E; Important Bird Area, National Landscape Reserve, Habitat/Species Management Area. The site is a complex wetland mosaic formed by large areas of transitional mires and raised bogs, forested and non-forested peatlands, permanent rivers, freshwater lakes and farmland. The wetland supports numerous populations of plant and animal species important for the conservation of the biological diversity within the Boreal biogeographic region. In addition, the site harbours numerous nationally-threatened species of birds such as Ciconia nigra, Botaurus stellaris and Grus grus, and mammals such as Lynx lynx, Ursus arctos and Meles meles. Its main hydrological values are water supply and maintenance of groundwater level and water quality. Within the site there are 15 historical and two archaeological monuments protected by the State. Human uses include forestry, hunting and fishing. Potential threats to the site’s ecological character derive from  peat extraction, commercial fishing, deforestation, vegetation succession, overgrazing and pollution from cattle farms and a ceramics factory located in neighbouring Obol. The management plan for the reserve is currently being prepared. Ramsar site no. 2196. Most recent RIS information: 2013.

Pripyatsky National Park. 29/03/2013; Gomel Region; 88,553 ha; 52°00′N 28°00’E; Important Bird Area, National Park. The site is a large floodplain located in the valley of the Pripyat river, characterized by permanent rivers and streams, forested and non-forested peatlands, freshwater tree-dominated wetlands, transitional mires, raised bogs, marshes, and ponds within seasonally flooded agricultural land. The site harbours numerous nationally-rare species of flora and fauna which are important for the conservation of biological diversity within the Continental biogeographic region. The floodplain plays an important role in flood regulation, water supply and the maintenance of water quality and groundwater recharge. The peatland areas also store and sequestrate carbon contributing to global climate regulation. The land is used for forestry, agriculture and recreational fishing and hunting. The site is also host to a great concentration of archaeological sites protected by the State for their historical and cultural value. Threats include pollution and eutrophication of surface waters by industrial and agricultural enterprises and sewage from residential areas, alteration of the hydrological regime as a result of the construction of polders and drainage channels, logging, overgrazing, mowing, construction of roads and pipelines, and radioactive contamination as a result of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986. Ramsar Site no. 2197. Most recent RIS information: 2013.

Vydritsa. 29/03/2013; Gomel Region; 21,292 ha; 52°46′N 29°40′E; Important Bird Area, Habitat/Species Management Area, National Landscape Reserve. The site is on a floodplain between the Berezina and Vydritsa rivers in the south-east of Belarus. It is a system of oxbow lakes, tree-dominated wetlands and forested peatlands with meadows, marshes, swamps and drainage channels. The site is internationally important for the maintenance of biological diversity within the Continental biogeographic region. It supports nationally-threatened bird species such as the Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis, the Great Bittern Botaurus stellaris and the Common Crane Grus grus, and vulnerable mammals such as the Eurasian Badger Meles meles. The hydrological values of the site include flood regulation, water supply, and maintenance of groundwater level and water quality, while the peatland areas play an important role in carbon sequestration. Land use within the site is dedicated to forestry, hunting, fishing, mushroom and berry-picking. Factors adversely affecting its ecological character include reclamation of land, overgrazing, unregulated mowing and logging activities, recreational pressures, reduction of water levels and also radioactive contamination caused by the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Ramsar site no. 2195. Most recent RIS information: 2013.

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