Posted: 29.03.2024 15:29:00

UNESCO/IUCN mission confirmed problems due to Poland-erected fence in Belovezhskaya Pushcha

Based on the results of a survey of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha border areas, the UNESCO/IUCN reactive monitoring mission confirmed a range of environmental problems after Poland’s construction of a fence along the Belarusian-Polish border – as noted today by Belarus’ First Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Aleksandr Korbut at the National Press Centre, reports


“Belarus’ concerns about the deterioration of the state of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha ecosystems due to the negative impact of the barrier structure erected by Poland on the Belovezhskaya Pushcha territory have been confirmed,” stated Aleksandr Korbut. “Four aspects of the negative impact have been identified both by the Belarusian side and international experts. These include the fragmentation of the forest complex and protected habitats, the severance of transboundary ecological connections, and the violation of the hydrological regime associated with the disruption of natural processes near the floodplain areas of rivers. The latter also led to forest flooding. Unfortunately, this situation will only get worse.”

According to a representative of the Ministry of Natural Resources, blocking the migration routes of animals and depleting the gene pool of their population is associated with limiting the possibilities for movement of fauna representatives, “Those passages that are made in the barriers cannot be called passages for the movement of animals. Firstly, they must be at least 1m high and 1.5m wide for small mammals. In fact, these are holes about 10cm in diameter, meaning they will become clogged with leaves, twigs and soil. In most areas where the road passes, these areas are completely covered with soil. There aren’t enough passages for large animals. Moreover, they are closed on the Polish side, and there are no regulations for their work: no one knows when they will be open and who makes the decision to open them. In general, the passages are not functional, and the negative impact on wildlife is enormous,” asserted Aleksandr Korbut.

As for the appearance of routes for the penetration of invasive alien plants and natural ecosystems, this primarily refers to the Canadian goldenrod, as well as some other species.

“The destruction of ground cover during construction work and the cutting down of the adjacent strip of relict forest and separate trees on the Polish side of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha represent a serious problem,” continued the official. “Data from the Belarusian scientists’ analysis show that during the construction of the fence, about 2.6 hectares of forest plantations were cut down. The number of damaged trees in the construction area exceeded 1,200. Unfortunately, the felling of individual trees on the Polish territory of the site continues until now.”

According to the First Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, international experts noted that the Belovezhskaya Pushcha has long been a single interconnected system. Its exceptional value lies in the interconnection of the animal world in large areas untouched by fundamental ecological processes. Due to the disruption of the interconnectedness of the two systems – especially in the context of climate change – we may actually face the drying out of valuable forests on a catastrophic scale. Therefore, it is vital to reconnect these systems.