Belarus successfully completes Ramsar Small Grant Fund project on the Buh River Valley

Belarus successfully completes Ramsar Small Grant Fund project on the Buh River Valley

19 July 2016
Belarus

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The Western Buh (or Bug) River runs through Belarus, Ukraine and Poland

Akhova Ptushak Batskaushchyna - BirdLife Belarus successfully completed the 2011 Small Grants Fund (SGF) project “Buh River Valley: Integration of Ramsar Approach with other spatial forms of protection (Important Bird Area, International Biosphere Reserve, National Landscape Reserve)”.

Context

The Western Buh (or Bug) River runs through Belarus, Ukraine and Poland and has been largely preserved in its natural state. This area supports a considerable level of biological diversity and a number of rare habitats such as oxbow lakes and floodplain alluvial forests. The transboundary location of the Buh River valley along the border in Belarus plays a contradictory role: on one hand it is preventing large-scale transformation and limiting human impact, whilst on the other hand setting certain constraints upon biodiversity protection. 

Project objectives

The overall aim of the Small Grant Fund project was to establish a competent Buh River Valley (BRV) grassroots network of caretakers which would help develop and implement an integrated approach towards the conservation and wise use of the Buh River Valley.

Other objectives were: the development of an integrated management plan and monitoring scheme and the designation of the valley as a Wetland of International Importance and as an Important Bird Area. 

Project results

  • A network of 22 caretakers for the Buh River Valley has been established. The network is comprised of foresters, hunters, teachers and local environmental activists. Training workshops for the network included both theory and field studies. During workshops the caretakers could consolidate their knowledge into practice and participate in the development of a management plan and monitoring scheme. Two workshops on monitoring were organised with the participation of Polish and Ukrainian ornithologists. As a result, an integrated monitoring scheme was developed and launched. Caretakers have been trained to monitor potential threats and key species.
  • Polesye Valley of River Bug has been designated as a Wetland of International Importance and listed as Ramsar Site number 2252Thanks to the financial support of the Dutch government and APB-BirdLife Belarus coordination, a Ramsar Information Sheet for the site was partly compiledSmall Grant Fund allowed the completion of data for protected species and thus the completion of the Ramsar Information Sheet.
  • An application has been submitted to BirdLife International in order to designate the site as an Important Bird Area (IBA).
  • The project has developed an integrated management plan for the Buh River Valley. The management plan was drafted by caretakers in cooperation with the Brest Environmental Committee, the State Reserve "Pribuzhskoye Polesye", Brest Forestry, the private company "Komarovka" and other stakeholders. The draft of the Management Plan was discussed through a series of workshops involving over 30 local land managers and land users. The plan has been adopted by APB-BirdLife Belarus and is currently being implemented. Special attention was paid to the cooperation with Brest Forestry in order to include the proposed activities in the Forest Management Plan for 2012 – 2022.
  • The project has raised awareness of the local population and decision makers regarding the site’s natural values. Three educational seminars for local leaders were held in different parts of Buh River Valley. A booklet was published dedicated to the international importance, conservation and wise use of the Buh River and disseminated amongst the local population. Twenty IBA-Ramsar information boards were also installed across the Site. The project activities were regularly highlighted on websites such as the APB www.ptushki.org as well as in the newspaper "Vecherni Brest" and other Brest newspapers

The Ramsar Secretariat congratulates the APB-BirdLife Belarus for developing and running this strategically important project and for preparing the necessary information which allowed for the designation of the Poleyse Valley River Buh Ramsar Site. We look forward to learning about the future outcomes of the implementation of the Management Plan. With the participation of the Ukrainian and Polish ornithologist in the monitoring workshops, the creation of an integrated monitoring scheme is considered to be a crucial step towards the potential establishment of a functional transboundary Ramsar Site for the Buh River Valley.

The Ramsar Convention Small Grants Fund is intended to assist developing countries and those with economies in transition in implementing the Convention and to support the conservation and wise use of wetland resources, with a strong human and social dimension.

Report by Elise Allély-Fermé, Assistant Advisor for Europe