Protecting wild gladioli from disappearing…

Belarus plans to use international experience to develop ecological tourism

By Yevgeny Nesterun

The Royal Society for the Protection of Nature in the Netherlands is ready to assist Belarusian specialists in developing eco-tourism. Belarusian scientists are currently negotiating to implement joint projects, since international experts’ experience is invaluable in developing new excursion programmes for Belarus’ key botanical areas.

This year, the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature is to send a delegation to the Narochansky and Pripyatsky national parks to discuss further interaction with Belarusian colleagues. They will be looking at eco-tourism and environmental projects, particularly the restoration of meadows and grassland ecosystems. “The Netherlands is successfully realising projects to restore its disappearing grassland flora, so we can use its experience in this sphere,” explains Oleg Maslovsky, who heads the flora cadastre section at the National Academy of Sciences’ V.F. Kuprevich Institute of Experimental Botany.

Over recent decades, Belarusian grassland ecosystems have significantly transformed under the influence of human economic activity and climate change. Rare plants have begun to disappear while the number of foreign (invasive) species has increased. For example, wild gladioli are now rarely seen in Belarusian meadows, with numbers ever falling. If no measures are taken, the plant may soon vanish. Shrub vegetation is a problem for Belarusian floodplain meadows, since it is growing by 3-5 percent annually, to the detriment of other species.

Collaboration with foreign experts should help us master international methods of studying and mapping grassland flora. Recommendations on the sustainable use and management of grassland eco-systems are to be followed, in line with pan-European standards. Our knowledge of how to preserve these beautiful habitats is sure to expand.

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