Belovezhskaya Pushcha and its protected areas

Belovezhskaya Pushcha and its protected areas

24.12.2020 Kamenuki

"I'm making my way along the reserve path to the brook…"

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"I'm making my way along the reserve path to the brook, where the grass is high, where the bushes are thicker...". These lines of the song by "Pesniary" band made Belovezhskaya Pushcha known to absolutely everyone in the former USSR. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of this relic forest for the whole of Europe. It occupies a vast territory and spreads across two countries:  Belarus and Poland. Only about 40 per cent of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha is accessible to the man, the rest is a pristine forest, untouched nature, where rare species of animals and birds have found their home.

The first mention of the reserve forest on these lands dates back to 983 AD. In the 14th century, Prince Jogailo forbade hunting and logging in the ancient forest. From 1569 to 1795, Belovezhskaya Pushcha was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and later became part of the Russian Empire. Catherine II, by her decree, allowed hunting any animals except for the bison in the Pushcha.

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The 20th century almost destroyed Belovezhskaya Pushcha. First, during World War I, the Germans mercilessly felled it and sent the timber by trains to Germany. At the same time, the Nazis nearly wiped out the European bison population there. Only when the Belovezhskaya Pushcha became part of the BSSR, the state took the territory under protection and established a strict nature reserve. Painstaking selection work began to revive the European bison and other animal species in the woods. Now the population of the European bison numbers over 1200 animals.

Nowadays there are over 25 species of trees and 900 varieties of plants in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, most of which are listed in the Red Book. There are relict trees which are more than 600 years old; several people can hold hands around their trunks.

What to see in Belovezhskaya Pushcha?

Everything has been thought out in Belovezhskaya Pushcha so tourists can see all of its beauty and mightiness with their own eyes, without damaging the flora and fauna. In the middle of the forest on 20 hectares there are spacious aviaries where wild animals live. People can watch deer, roe deer, lynx, wolves, bears, and of course the bison in their natural habitat.

Many people come to Belovezhskaya Pushcha to see with their own eyes the very place where the agreement on the disintegration of the USSR was signed. The Viskuly estate still exists and you can even get there by horse-drawn carriage. Romantic and beautiful!

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What else can you see? You can learn all about Belovezhskaya Pushcha by taking a walk with an audio guide and exploring all the exhibits. You can also visit the Museum of Folk Life and Old Technologies in the village of Pererov. In fact, it is an old manor and the exhibits are items of everyday life of local residents of the 19th century.

How is it possible to visit Belovezhskaya Pushcha without visiting the Father Frost's estate? Besides, you can visit the fairy Grandfather all year round. The owner will meet you, lead you through the reserved places and show everything. In December and January Father Frost has a full house as every day dozens of buses with children arrive, and he also has to answer all letters!

Why should you visit Belovezhskaya Pushcha? The answer is quite simple: because it is a unique place of power for Belarus, recognised all over the world. Not without reason it was included into the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1992, and a year later it got the status of a Biosphere Reserve.

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