I cannot name a person who would be absolutely indifferent towards forests. Maybe he who has never been to a forest? But anyone who has seen sunbeams play in leaves, will hardly forget the deep feeling of full harmony that we lack so much. You may say it is emotions only — far from it! Our scientists have found explanation to all emotions from the point of nature laws and sociology. If they are to be believed, forests should be perceived not only as an ecological and economy welfare but as the originating factor that formed our national temper.
The Earth used to a planet of woods. One ninth part of land was covered with vast virgin forests. Naturally, when humans appeared, woods could not remain untouched. Today forests occupy only 27% of land. As compared to this, Belarus can be considered "green" republic. We have preserved 25 per cent forest coverage as before 1917 and even enlarged it to 38 per cent. Today there are 1.5 hectares of woodland per capita in our country. This is average, and particular numbers follow. For example, Gomel region is the most wooded area: forests cover 45 per cent of its territory. Another domestic record: over half of Lelchitsy district of Gomel region is covered with woods. Nesvizh district, Minsk region is the most uncovered with 10 per cent of forests only. However, residents of Nesvizh district aren′t the last as compared to England with 8 per cent or Ireland (4 per cent only).
It′s easy to see why forests are considered blessing if have a look at data from Institute of forests under National Academy of science. Each year Belarusian forests process an enormous amount of 100 m tons carbon dioxide and yield oxygen in return. Another advantage is that 61 per cent of all Belarusian woods are comprised of pine trees, which is wonderful. Pines are very useful for the man as they clear hazardous microbes from air. While growing, these trees produce a vast number of aromatic compounds, ethereal oils, and volatile matters fatal for any bacteria. It was not without cause that in due times when medics knew no medicine for tuberculosis doctors prescribed the only remedy — to settle down in a pine wood. Besides, drug opponents still prefer pine woods for treating this disease.
When Chernobyl accident occurred, forests became the bio barrier that neutralized the radioactive cloud and filtered 80 per cent of waste discharged from failed nuclear reactor. Yet on the other hand forests still keep background radiation. After 19 years woods are still close for locals in affected areas. Paths are blocked with vivid danger signs. Thus it is important for Belarus to improve woods as well as to treat ecosystems affected by Chernobyl disaster. This is a permanent subject for serious work of our scientists. New methods of weakening radio nuclides in forest soils and flora are being implemented in experimental plots.
Meanwhile forests help to revitalize moved villages. According to Gomel researchers, birch woods appear in restricted zones restricted for people. Specialists say the abandoned areas will turn into splendid woods after some decades. Still, it will take centuries to grow giant trees like in other parts of Belarus. The most impressive natural monument of Belarusian forests is 800-year oak near Brest. It is 46 meters high, trunk diameter is 2 meters. A bit smaller oak tree is situated in Prypiatsky national park, Gomel region: 32 m high, 4.5 m in circle. It takes four men to arm it.
Forests are the indicator of country′s ecological and economy prosperity. Moreover, it was found that forests are the root of Belarusian mentality. This is the opinion of sociologists of Pavel Suhoi Belarusian state technology university. They have been studying peculiarities of character training of native Belarusian for 8 years already. The researchers have cleared out an interesting fact. Historically, forest life affected mentality of Belarus residents and determined future generations. Life in woods has made Belarusians gentle, calm, generous andЎ cautious. Forest is home, but even homey paths can be tricky. This is why the saying: "look before you leap" is so popular here.