“Belovezhskaya Pushcha” National Park


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“Belovezhskaya Pushcha” National Park

Ph by Svetlana Cheberkus

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“Belovezhskaya Pushcha” National Park is situated in the southwest of Belarus, 340 kilometres from Minsk. The Pushcha was first mentioned in the Ipatyevskaya Chronicle of 983. A status close to that of a natural reserve was established here at the beginning of the 15th century. In 1957 the Pushcha was officially proclaimed as a State Reserve and a Hunting Forest, and in 1991 reformed as a national park. This big forestland is one of the oldest forest reserves in Europe.

The flora and fauna of  Belovezhskaya Pushcha is rich in various species of plants and animals, many of them enlisted in the Red Book of the Republic of Belarus (as in – in danger of extinction). The Puscha consists of mixed and deciduous forests. Trees older than 100 years have been registered here: for example, a pine (350 years old, height around 35 m), a fir (200 years, height 52 m), an oak (500 years, diameter up to 190 cm) and others. There are around 900 tall plants, 260 sorts of moss, more than 290 kinds of lichens and 570 types of fungus. Among inhabitants of the Pushcha are 59 species of mammals (among those red deer, wolf, wild boar, lynx), 227 birds species, 11 species of amphibians, 7 species of reptiles, 24 fish types and more than 9,000 kinds of insects. There are also foxes, badgers, polecats, ermines, weasels, martens, raccoons, otters, beavers, hares and squirrels, white and black storks, and 20 birds of prey. Among amphibians and reptiles are pond and grass frogs, grey, green and cane toads and others. Forest land occupies 88,2%, bogs – 4%, meadows – 5% of the territory of the National Park.

Belovezhskaya Pushcha is the last natural habitat of the biggest European mammal species today – zubr (European bison). Until the beginning of the 17th century, aurochs, and until the beginning of the 19th century, forest tarpons inhabited the Pushcha.

In 1992 UNESCO listed the National Park as a World Heritage Site. In 1993 it got the status of a Biosphere Reserve and in 1997 was awarded a Council of Europe Diploma. Belovezhskaya Pushcha is one of the four most famous and unique original forestlands in the world.

ph by Svetlana Cheberkus