Naliboki forest, or Nalibokskaya Pushcha, is a dense forest area, located in the basin of three rivers – the Neman, the Berezina and the Usa. In addition, it is bordered with Oshmyany Ridge and Minsk Upland in the north and east respectively. The name of the massif comes from a nearby small village called Naliboki.
The Naliboki forest is a truly vast area of untouched woods, considered the largest in Belarus. Its area covers 96 thousand hectares!
Historically, the land, which the Naliboki forest is located on, was considered infertile. That's why the massif has remained unchanged till the present days in its original form.
Since there was practically no farming, the specialization of the region was the extraction of wood and swamp ore. Due to such a development, large metal processing enterprises appeared over time. They flourished in the XVIII-XIX century.
Naliboki forest today
Unfortunately, the Naliboki forest is not a protected area. There is still a hunting reserve. A long time ago, when Belarus was part of the Rzeczpospolita, there were several reserves in the territory of the Naliboki forest. However, they were abolished during Soviet times.
However, even though the territory is not protected, the flora of the Naliboki forest surprises with its diversity. More than 820 various plant species grow here, many of which are listed in the Red Book: mountain arnica, perennial honesty, etc.
The Naliboki forest is rich in birds: 29 species can be found here. There are those that are listed in the Red Book. In addition, there is a nesting area of kingfisher and lesser spotted eagle.
There are also different legends about the forest. There is Lake Kroman (local people joke that it's an ancestral home of Cro-Magnon people). The history of Lavryshevsky Monastery is also interesting, which, according to a legend, was founded by Grand Duke of Lithuania Voyshelk in the thirteenth century on the left bank of the Neman. However, the building suddenly appeared on the right bank – when the river changed its course. There are wonderful stories about the churches in the Naliboki forest – trained bears helped to build them!
During the Chernobyl accident, the Naliboki forest suffered from radiation, so many surrounding villages are subject to eviction. In addition, it is important to remember that collected berries and mushrooms must get radiation monitoring.
Recreation in the Naliboki forest will be interesting not only for ecotourism lovers but also for those people who interested in the history and architecture of the country.