Belarus has designated four new Ramsar Sites, namely Dnieper River Floodplain, Polesye Valley of River Bug, Servech and Vileity. Belarus now has 20 Wetlands of International Importance, covering over 680,000 hectares.
The Dnieper River Floodplain (Ramsar Site no. 2244), located along the border with Ukraine, is a large natural wetland complex consisting predominantly of intermittent freshwater marshes as well as forested and non-forested peatlands, freshwater tree-dominated wetlands and shrub-dominated wetlands. It is one of the last large river floodplains in Europe to be preserved in its natural state.
The wetland plays a significant role in the natural functioning of the river basin and its underground hydrological systems. It serves as important breeding habitat and spring migration stopovers for many waterfowl, and the temporarily flooded water bodies are critical spawning grounds for rare indigenous fish.
Located along the middle reach of the Western Bug river, Polesye Valley of River Bug (Ramsar Site no. 2252) encompasses the part in Belarus of a floodplain which follows the border with Poland and Ukraine.
It is composed of freshwater tree-dominated wetlands, meadows, open mires and open water bodies including the Western Bug River, which has been preserved in its natural state. The wetland provides important hydrological services across the river basin. The Site is characterized by a high degree of biological diversity and is of great importance for the passage of fish to their spawning grounds. The main activities focus on forestry, fishing and nature-based tourism and recreation.
Located in the floodplain of the Servech river, the Servech Ramsar Site (Site no. 2250) is a complex of fen mires, transitional marshes and raised bogs. This mosaic of habitats supports the existence of rare and vulnerable species listed in the Red List of the Republic of Belarus. The globally threatened aquatic warbler Acrocephalus paludicola and great snipe Gallinago media use the fen mires every year for breeding.
Threats to the Site include the stopping of mowing and grazing which has left the open fens overgrown with reeds, shrubs and trees, and so reduced the habitat of the aquatic warbler and great snipe. Although it is currently prohibited, the possibility of peat extraction within the Site is of concern.
Vileity Ramsar Site (Site no. 2251) makes up the eastern part of a large natural wetland complex located in the transboundary zone between Belarus and Lithuania and is adjacent to the Lithuanian “Adutiskis-Svyla-Birveta wetland complex” Ramsar Site.
The floodplains provide an important stopover and migration corridor for threatened waterbirds. During the spring floods, the Site hosts more than 20,000 waterfowl and more than 1% of the biogeographic population of the greater white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons) and the bean goose (Anser fabalis rossicus) regularly visit. The Myadelka and Drisvyata rivers ser ve as important migratory channels for the adult European eels (Anguilla anguilla).