The Annotated Ramsar List: Belarus

15/04/2013

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The Annotated Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance

BELARUS / BÉLARUS / BELARÚS

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On 22 November 1999, Belarus made its declaration of succession to the former Soviet Union in respect to the Convention on Wetlands, and the Convention came into force for Belarus as of the date of its independence, 25 August 1991. Belarus presently has 16 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area of 614,708 hectares.

site; date of designation; region, province, state; surface area; coordinates
site; date de désignation; région, province, état; superficie; coordonnées
sitios; fecha de designación; región, provincia, estado; área; coordenadas

Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve. 25/01/2010. Belarusian Lakeland: 85,149 ha; 54°38'N 028°30'E. Biosphere Reserve: Natural Area of Strict Protection, Important Bird Area (IBA), Important Plant Area (IPA). This Ramsar Site is located in the northern part of the country, in the Belarusian Lakeland area. The site lies on three administrative districts in the watershed of the Berezina and Essa rivers’ basins, 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 threatened plant and animal species and it is one of the most important nesting and concentration sites of wetland birds in Belarus. In particular, the site supports 111 species of animals listed in the National Red Data Book of Belarus, which represents 59,8 % of the total number of species listed, including 10 mammal species, 58 birds, 2 amphibians, 1 reptile, 2 fish species and 38 insect species. Moreover, the site counts 74 plant species 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. Ramsar Site no.1927. Most recent RIS information: 2010.

Duleby Islands-Zaozerye. 07/09/2012; Mogilev Region; 30,772 ha; 53°40'00"N 029°30'00"E. Important Bird Area, Hydrological Reserves, Protected Landscape, Habitat/Species Management Area. Mire complex with prevalence of boreal Sphagnum ridge-hollow bogs, pine swamp forests, and fens. The forests and mire areas provide favourable conditions for the conservation of a considerable number of birds and mammals, as well as national red-listed plant communities. Moreover, the wetland plays an important role in water purification and supply for the rivers of the Dnieper basin and recharges the underground hydrological systems. The main land uses within the site are agricultural production, forestry, mowing and recreation (gathering of berries, mushrooms, and herbal and medicinal plants). The main factors affecting the ecological character of the site are logging, poaching, pollution, eutrophication and radioactive contamination as a result of the transfer of radioactive elements after the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986. Ramsar Site no. 2138. Most recent RIS Information: 2013.

Kotra.
21/10/02; Grodno Region; 10,584 ha; 54°00'N 024°30'E. Part of a large transboundary tree-dominated wetland territory adjoining Lithuania's Cepkeliai Ramsar site to the north, said to be the last area of unutilized tree-dominated wetlands in Belarus. Some 87% of the site is dominated by Black Alder Alnus glutinosa and White Birch Betula pendula, diversified by open fen mires and transition bogs and meadows, mostly concentrated in the floodplain of the River Kotra. The site supports a diverse assemblage of 633 species of vascular plants, and 156 vertebrates have been recorded. The site has a significant influence on the hydrological regime of large marsh complexes in Belarus and Lithuania and plays important regulatory role in the water balance in northwest Belarus. The site is scarcely populated (20-25 inhabitants). Remains of settlements from the Stone and Bronze Ages have been discovered, with numerous medieval burial grounds nearby, and a memorial to a World War II atrocity is present. In addition to forestry, other human uses include cattle grazing, hay making, cropping, berry- and mushroom-picking. Among potential threats to the site are drainage, river embankment, forest reclamation, fires, overgrazing, poaching, and sylvaculture. Zakaznik (reserve) status is being sought for the site, and a joint management plan with Cepkeliai has been recommended. Ramsar site no. 1216. Most recent RIS information: 2002.

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.

Mid-Pripyat State Landscape Zakaznik. 10/08/01; Brest Region; 90,447 ha; 52°09'N 027°00'E. State Landscape reserve. A 120-km stretch of the Pripyat river floodplain dominated by alluvial, mainly oak forests, meadows, and lowland mires, used chiefly for haymaking, pasturing, and fishing. The area is a key waterbird nesting and stopover site, meeting both the 20,000 birds and 1% waterbird criteria for international importance (among others), and the river is crucial to the hydrological regime of the Polesie Lowland region and its groundwater and to the health of the Dnieper. Frequent flooding and lack of roads have contributed to a relatively low degree of development and correspondingly large numbers of undisturbed species of flora (725 species recorded) and fauna (36 mammals, 182 birds, 6 reptiles, 10 amphibians, and 37 fish). As one of the earliest settled regions of Belarus, archaeological sites abound, and traditional crafts and folklore have retained much more of their character than elsewhere in Belarus. Recent climate change effects, especially a decrease in winter precipitation, and possible pressure for anti-flooding engineering works may present threats, and water quality has been declining in recent years. Largely state-owned. Ramsar site no. 1090. Most recent RIS information: 2000.

Morochno. 07/09/2012; Brest Region; 5,845 ha; 51°51'36"N 026°37'53"E. Biological Reserve of Local Importance, Important Bird Area, Protected Landscape, Habitat/Species Management Area. A cross-border Belorusian-Ukrainian complex mire system, located near the major floodplain of river Horyn, with a predominance of Belarusian Polesie ridge-hollow sphagnum bogs. The site is an important ecological corridor for many nationally threatened and endangered species. Thewetland plays an important role in the maintenance of water quality in the region; moreover, during the dry season it stores water and sustains the underground hydrological systems. Land uses within the site are forestry, logging, hunting and recreation (collection of berries, mushrooms and herbs and medicinal plants). The main factors affecting the ecological character of the site are land reclamation and drainage, fires, poaching and peat extraction. Ramsar Site no. 2139. Most recent RIS information: 2013.

Olmany Mires Zakaznik. 10/08/01; Brest Region; 94,219 ha; 52°44’N 027°16’E. National Landscape reserve. One of Europe’s largest natural complexes of bogs and transitional mires, the site is particularly important for nesting and migrating waterbirds and a key nesting site for the globally threatened Spotted Eagle Aquilla clanga. The mires play a crucial role in the hydrological regime of the Pripyat river; sparse population and limited accessibility have contributed to the site’s functional integrity and its large numbers of flora and fauna species present. The reserve is situated on the nation’s largest military aviation training area, but military activities, largely localized, are said not to have caused any degradation of natural communities and by limiting civil development activities have actually helped to preserve the site’s natural characteristics. Berry and mushroom collection and recreational fishing are permitted in coordination with military schedules. Ramsar site no. 1091. Most recent RIS information: 2001.

Osveiski. 21/10/02; Vitebsk Region; 22,600 ha; 56°05'N 028°10'E. Zakaznik (Reserve). A large complex of lakes, forests, transition and bog mires located 150 km northwest of the city of Vitebsk. The core of the site is Lake Osveia, the biggest eutrophic lake in Belarus (5,300 ha, including a big island), rapidly overgrowing with aquatic vegetation but still playing a significant role in the hydrological and climatic patterns of northern Belarus. A large part of the site is represented by bog and transition mires with pine, birch and alder forests - some 30% of the area. During migration, the site hosts more than 20,000 waterbirds, but it is also an important breeding ground for several thousand pairs of grebes, ducks, cranes, waders. More than 1% of the biogeographic population of the Common Crane Grus grus and the Bean Goose Anser fabalisrossicus regularly use the site as a stopover. Ancient dwellings and mound graves from the 5th century BC to the 17th of the present era have been discovered, as well as mass graves of victims of World War II. The site is lightly populated (300 inhabitants) and human uses include logging, cattle grazing, cropping, berry-picking, mushrooms and medicinal plants picking, fishing, and hunting. Potential threats to the site are drainage, river embankment, poaching and expansion of agricultural uses. Ramsar site no. 1217. Most recent RIS information: 2002.

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. A management plan for the National Park has been adopted which covers the period from 2011 to 2030. Ramsar Site no. 2197. Most recent RIS information: 2013.

Prostyr. 18/10/05; Brest Region; 9,500 ha; 51°56 N 026°05' E. National Landscape Reserve, Important Bird Area. A complex of near-natural sedge and reed fen mires together with black alder groves and scrub formations along the banks and floodplain meadows between the rivers Pripyat, Prostyr and Styr, continuing as a transboundary wetland across the Ukrainian border. It is a breeding ground of the globally endangered Aquatic Warbler and generally one of the most important nesting sites during the migration season. Such eutrophic floodplain mires are typical of the Belarusian Polesie area, but they have become rare as a result of heavy drainage activities since the 1960s and have practically disappeared in Central Europe. Presently a system of old drainage canals is still draining fen mires, which has negative impacts particularly in the summer, when it causes the groundwater table to drop significantly. In general there are only small-scale economic activities on the site, chiefly occasional haymaking and cattle grazing, with some hunting and non-commercial fishing. As there are no roads, boats are the only means of accessing the Prostyr Reserve. Significantly extended in 2008, at which time Prostyr was united with Ukraine’s Prypiat and Stokhid Ramsar sites, with development of a joint management mechanism, in a Transboundary Ramsar Site “Stokhid-Prypiat-Prostyr”, thus opening the potential for increasing international tourism in this region. Ramsar site no. 1611. Most recent RIS information: 2006.

Sporovsky Biological Reserve (‘zakaznik’). 22/11/99; Brest Region; 19,384 ha; 52°23’N 025°20’E. Situated in the floodplain of the middle course of the Yaselda River, 2km south of the town of Beryoza in the Brest region, the site includes one of the largest lowland mesotrophic sedge fen mires in Europe. On much of the mire the hydrological regime has been disrupted by drainage canal systems, but much of the site "appears to be in a condition very close to the natural one". It represents one of the largest European habitats of the Aquatic Warbler, a globally threatened species. The land belongs to the state and is rented by about 20 collective farms and forestry enterprises; in 1999 it was declared a biological reserve of national importance, with all drainage and land reclamation prohibited and economic uses of the land officially regulated. A UK Darwin Initiative-funded project, carried out by the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Belarus Society for the Protection of Birds, is making a number of scientific studies of the site and will develop a management plan. Ramsar site no. 1007. Most recent RIS information: 1999.

Stary Zhaden. 07/09/2012; Gomel Region; 17,048 ha; 51°53'01"N 027°35'52"E. Important Bird Area, Protected area with Sustainable Use of Natural Resources. A Belarusian Polesie complex wetland system, formed by fens combined with sphagnum transitional mires of boreal type and sphagnum bogs. The site is characterized by a diversity of geomorphological conditions and relatively high biodiversity. It plays an important hydrological role in water purification, maintenance of groundwater levels and water supply during the dry season. Land uses include forestry, farming, recreation and hunting. The main factors threatening the ecological character of the wetland are logging, fires, drainage, poaching, recreational disturbances caused by mass collection of berries and mushrooms, and significant radioactive contamination caused by the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. Ramsar Site no. 2140. Most recent RIS information: 2013.

Vigonoshchanskoe. 16/01/2013; Brest Region; 54,182 ha; 52°42'N 25°40'E. National Landscape Reserve; Important Bird Area; Habitat/Species Management Area. A large forest-wetland complex situated at the watershed of river basins of the Black and Baltic seas. This are, a slightly transformed by economic and recreational activities, is of great importance for the conservation of plant and animal species as well as for the protection of the whole natural complex of Belarusian Polesie. There are two large lakes on the territory as well as rivers, canals, floodplains and open marsh areas, including waterlogged forests, fens, transitional and raised bogs. The core of the Site is Lake Vygonoshchanskoe. The site plays a key role in maintaining the hydrological regime in the region and feeding the River Shchara, one of the River Neman's largest tributaries. Moreover, the wetland regulates regional climate by mitigating fluctuations in temperature and humidity. Traditional human activities within the site are fishing, hunting, and berry and mushroom collection. A network of monitoring plots has been created, where research studies have been carried out within the national integrated monitoring system for ecosystems in the protected areas. Ramsar Site no. 2141. 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.

Yelnia. 21/10/02; Vitebsk Region; 23,200 ha; 55°35'N 027°52'E. Hydrological Zakaznik (Reserve). One of the largest of Belarus' complexes of bogs and transition mires, with adjacent moraine-lacustrine and glacio-lacustrine landscapes diversified by numerous lakes scattered around (and several larger lakes) and small-size mineral islands covered by small-leaved and spruce forests. Most of the mire is overgrown by pine forest. The site preserves a representative example of close-to-natural bog and regularly supports more than 20,000 waterbirds during migration, as well as more than 1% of the biogeographic population of the Common Crane Grus grus and the Bean Goose Anser fabalis rossicus. It exerts a signifcant influence on the hydrologic regime and microclimate of the region and acts as a biofilter of anthropogenic pollutants. Due to its inaccessibility, human uses are limited - berry-picking, angling, and hunting, with forestry on the periphery of the site. The most serious threat is drainage caused by ditches intended for peat works, now abandoned. Studies by BirdLife Belarus supported by RSPB, Wetlands International, and OMPO have assisted in preparing the designation data. Ramsar site no. 1218. Most recent RIS information: 2002.

Zvanets. 21/10/02; Brest Region; 15,873 ha; 52°05'N 024°50'E. Zakaznik (Reserve). Described as the largest European mesotrophic fen mire, diversified by small mineral islands scattered over the area and covered by forests and shrubs. There is one lake and a system of canals and ditches. It conserves a very well preserved example of sedge-Hypnum fen mires and is a hot spot for biodiversity (664 species of vascular plants, 728 species of arthropods and 168 species of vertebrates recorded) with rare, threatened and adapted-to-specific-conditions species. The site hosts three globally threatened species of birds - Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga, Corncrake Crex crex and notably the largest population of the Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola (3,000-6,000 singing males). The site has significant regulatory functions for hydrology in the region. Human uses include small-scale bee keeping, cropping, hay making, cattle grazing, and forestry, and the site is used as a temporary water storage reservoir. Main threats - deteriorated hydrologic regime, fires, logging, and extension of arable land. A management plan, elaborated by the NGO Bird Conservation Belarus/BirdLife Belarus, is about to be approved. Ramsar site no. 1219. Most recent RIS information: 2002.

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