Council of Europe confirms status of protected area

Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers extends Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park’s European Diploma for Protected Areas for further five years
By Valentina Kozlovich

Relevant documents are already on their way from Strasbourg to confirm the prestigious award, which recognises the successes of national parks and nature protection reserves. Of course, such awards also support Belarus’ image as a preserver of eco-systems (the status was first received in 1997, then suspended in 2007). There are no direct financial benefits but indirect benefits are manifold.

To qualify, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection was obliged to submit a park management plan to the Council of Europe’s Committee for Activities in the Field of Biological and Landscape Diversity. Despite application in 2012, it has taken some time for all the recommendations given by the Council to be applied successfully.

Vasily Arnolbik, the Deputy Director General for Science, believes that the Council is now seeing positive trends in the Pushcha. He explains, “We’ve assessed each area and zoned them according to function. The reserve zone has almost doubled — from 30,000 to 57,000 hectares — and protected areas are now marked. The international experts have praised our environmental work, our new infrastructure and our direction of tourism development.”

Belarus’ recent joining of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (the Bern Convention) may also have played a role, as this is a serious step towards pan-European standards of nature protection.

At present, the National Park is one of the most titled among protected natural sites in Belarus and in Europe. In 1992, UNESCO registered part of the Pushcha on its World Heritage List and, a year later, it became a biosphere reserve.
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