Six more new Ramsar Sites in Belarus

Six more new Ramsar Sites in Belarus

4 July 2016

Belarus has named six more Sites to the List of Wetlands of International Importance. It now has 26 Ramsar Sites covering over 760,000 hectares. The Sites include important floodplains with marshes, swamps and mires in their natural or near-natural state, which support rare plant and animal species and provide essential hydrological services in a number of river basins. However, in some areas, changes in land use have threatened the integrity of the wetlands.

Drobzbitka-Svina (Ramsar Site no. 2261) is a forest-swamp massif, located in the floodplains of the Drozbitka and Svina rivers. The Site is composed of fen mires, transition marshes, raised bogs and a hydrological network of permanent freshwater lakes, rivers, creeks and drainage canals. The wetland supports a complex of rare and threatened habitats including Boreal sedge fen mires. The Site is difficult to access and is highly waterlogged, which contributes to the conservation of rare and nationally threatened plant species such as Salix myrtilloides and Carex magellanica irrigua. It is also an important stopover for the Arctic loon Gavia arctica and serves as breeding grounds for the black stork Ciconia nigra. The marshes provide important hydrological services linked to water retention, groundwater recharge and water purification, and play a significant role in the natural functioning of the West Dvina River Basin. The Site’s active peatlands contribute to carbon retention.

Located near the border with Russia, the Iput River Floodplain (Site no. 2262) is a highly waterlogged floodplain complex composed of broad-leaf and indigenous black alder communities, oak woods, meadows and fen mires. Due to the difficult access, this section of the Iput River floodplain has remained in a natural state and is representative  of middle-reach river floodplains, which used to be widespread in the Eastern Polesie region. The preserved natural floodplain communities and indigenous old forests create favourable conditions for a large number of nationally protected flora and fauna species.

Dikoe Fen Mire (Site no. 2263) is composed primarily of fen mires with numerous scattered forested islands. It is one of the largest mesotrophic fen mires in Europe preserved in its natural state. The wetland supports populations of plant and animal species important for maintaining the biological diversity of mire ecosystems of the Continental biogeographic region. The highest diversity of plants is found in the mineral islands, which are microrefugia for several threatened species. The Site also supports open sedge communities of Caricetum chordorrhizae, Caricetum juncellae and Caricetum limosae, providing an important habitat for the globally endangered aquatic warbler Acrocephalus paludicola. The globally endangered European bison Bison bonasus use the area as a foraging and resting place.

Golubickaya Puscha (Site no. 2266) is a large complex of raised bogs and transition mires in their near-natural state. Waterlogged meadows and the large Mezuzol and Medzozol lakes are located among the bogs and forests, and their waterlogged state and the preservation of natural habitats have helped to conserve rare and threatened plant and animal species. The Site supports 25 species of vertebrates and nine plant species registered on the Red List of the Republic of Belarus, including the nationally critically endangered golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos and Ural owl Strix uralensis.

Podvelikiy Moh (Site no. 2267) is a large mire massif composed predominantly of raised bogs, fen mires, transition mires and waterlogged forests. Together with Vigonoshchanskoe (Ramsar Site no. 2141), the wetland forms one of the largest mires in Europe. This large complex is an active zone of groundwater discharge, and constitutes the source of the Bobrik River, a tributary of the Pripyat River. The raised bogs, which are rare for the Polesie region, provide valuable hydrological services such as flood protection and water regulation. They also influence the climate and geochemical processes through peat accumulation and carbon sequestration. The bogs also provide an important habitat for nationally red-listed bird species such as the black-tailed godwit Limosa limosa and the short-toed snake eagle Circaetus gallicus.

Svislochsko-Berezinskiy (Site no. 2268) is located where the Svisloch and Olsa rivers flow into the Berezina river. Over 80% of the Site is covered by forests adjoining the Berezina and Svisloch floodplains, but it also encompasses lakes, fen, transition mires and raised bogs. The wetland supports plant and animal populations which are important for maintaining the biological diversity of the Predpolesie region, which is on the border of the Boreal and Continental biogeographic regions. More than 650 upper vascular plant species are registered within the Site. The floodplain meadows along the Olsa and Berezina are important stopovers during migration for waders and ducks, including large numbers of white-winged tern Chlidonias leucopterus and ruff Philomachus pugnax. The globally threatened sterlet Acipenser ruthenus can also be found on the Site.