Protection necessary to avoid extinction

National Red Book ‘grows fat’, with new plants and funghi registered

By Olga Postukhova

Specialists are working on an updated edition of the Red Book of Belarus — to be released in a few years. The first edition appeared in 1981, including 80 animal species and 85 species of vascular plants. Currently in use is the third edition, which is almost three times the size, listing 189 species of flora and 274 of fauna.

Belarusian botanists have found absolutely new species of flora countrywide, such as a whole family of orchidaceae in 2010; ophrys insectifera has also been registered. Arkady Skuratovich, a senior research officer at the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Experimental Botany, notes that, previously, the plant had never been seen here, with the nearest populations growing in the Baltic States. However, the orchid has now been discovered in the Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve. Of course, it may also be growing elsewhere between the Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve and Lithuania and Latvia, as it roots well in fertile marshes. Many such places have been drained for farming but small populations of orchid have been found on untouched land.

Some of the floral ‘newcomers’ had previously been considered to have vanished from Belarus — such as the ghost orchid. It was last seen back in 1927, and only in the Senno District, but was recently rediscovered in the Braslav Lakes National Park. Vicia dumetorum, discovered in the Svetlogorsk District, was also thought extinct in Belarus.

Many of the Red Book ‘newcomers’ are subject to protection, in line with international conventions — including the Bern Convention, ratified by Belarus. For example, the badger was previously unprotected in our country. However, silvicultural cutting has reduced populations before our eyes. The badger has completely disappeared in Europe and is only known to grow in a few places in Germany and Poland.

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