‘Seychelles’ of Volkovysk District
The 17th Belarusian Energy and Ecology Congress recently saw the National Academy of Sciences propose a new way of using chalk pit lakes effectively: giving them the status of natural hydrological sites for use as tourist attractions
By Sergey Mikhalevsky
According to the Head of the Scientific and Practical Centre for Bio-resources, of the NAS of Belarus, Vladimir Baichorov, chalk pits’ banks were traditionally required, in Soviet times, to have a slope of less than 30 degrees, with application of fertilisers for the planting of forests. However, these measures are harmful to the environment.
He explains, “In particular, the fertilisers quickly leach into water, killing organisms and causing irreparable harm to biological diversity. A number of quarries have their own sustainable ecosystem.” Many such lakes are now several decades old, surrounded by plants and over 60 species of living organisms.
A reviewed approached is clearly needed to ensure that tourists can visit safely without harm to the environment. “Chalk pits currently create revenue for the state in the form of taxes,” Mr. Baichorov notes. “About 10,000 tourist cars visit the Volkovysk District annually, paying Br3.5bn for fuel — over Br800m of which is paid into the budget in the form of taxes.”
Chalk pit lakes could be created as sites of natural beauty; rather than spending money on destructive reclamation, it could be invested into tourist infrastructure and safety measures. “Are these quarries so dangerous?” Mr. Baichorov muses. “Their landscape differs little from that of the Black Sea coast of the Crimea; every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists go there.” He tells us that necessary documentation is being prepared to give chalk pit lakes hydrological status as sites of national importance, with completion expected in 2013.