Bark beetles infringe on the sacred
The Belovezhskaya Pushcha is among our pearls and must be safeguarded
Strict sanitary controls applied in Pushcha
In March, the new Nature Minister approved the area of cutting almost three-fold, noting a need to eradicate bark beetles, which are destroying trees. Of course, nature recognises no state borders, so should we be worried about our Belarusian side of the forest?
The Deputy General Director for Scientific and Innovative Work at the National Academy of Sciences’ Scientific-Practical Centre for Bio-Resources, Vadim Tsinkevich, tells us, “We operate a special service within the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park, to control conditions. In cases of emergency, such as extreme activity by bark beetles, we follow the regulations set up to protect the forest. Some areas cannot be disturbed, with all interference forbidden. As to whether the situation is critical, we believe it’s under control.”
The National Park’s chief forester, Vasily Filimonov, is the main specialist on bark beetles and tells us that he saw the Polish side with his own eyes, in early spring. “There were withered fir groves along the road and cutting areas, and I witnessed protests by green followers and local citizens.” He notes the importance of specifying exact areas for cutting, whether in the forestry or the Belovezhie Park. He notes that, on the Belarusian side, felling is only being allowed in select areas, where it is permitted.
Mr. Filimonov admits that Park employees have observed an increase in the number of bark beetles, as is usual at this time of year, and which tends to flare every decade. Preventative measures are carried out, such as using traps. He adds that bark beetles don’t threaten our dense forest, since there are few purely fir groves (the main habitat of the beetle). Rather, these alternate with oak groves and pine forests. He confirms the opinion of Polish ecologists, in saying that the activity of bark beetles is a natural phenomenon.
However, two letters in Nature magazine draw the attention of the international community to the problem, saying that felling is being undertaken for economic rather than ecological reasons. As we know, the dense forest is one of the last primitive woodlands of Europe, being included on UNESCO’s World List of Cultural and Natural Heritage. The Park’s area on the Polish side covers 10,500 hectares, and over 87,000 on Belarusian territory.
The alarm seems to be called vain. The Belovezhskaya Pushcha is a powerful natural organism, which has seen and experienced much. Let’s hope it’ll cope with its bark beetles.
By Victor Ponomarev