Recommendations for enhancement of the Belarusian environmental legislation Belarus, management plans for internationally important areas and the unique experience of rehabilitation and stabilization of the hydrological situation in wetlands are among the outcomes of the UNDP project.
The project titled “Implementation of the Urgent Recommendations of the Management Plans for Key Biodiversity Areas in Belarus” has been implemented since 2002 by NGO APB-Birdlife Belarus with support from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (UK), UNDP, the Darwin Initiative for the Survival of Species (UK) and Michael Otto Foundation for Environmental Protection (Germany).
The project has involved activities aimed at optimization of the hydrological regime of Dikoe, Zvanets and Sporovskoe wetlands in the south-west of Belarus. Fifteen water regulation facilities have been built and the project experts have developed necessary operational and maintenance guidelines.
The project sites, notably Zvanets, Sporovskoe and Dikoe, are the unique ecosystems that remain in close-to-natural condition. These areas are the only remaining territories of this scale in Europe. UNDP considers this project an important phase of a comprehensive programme. The first stage has produced comprehensive management plans which identified the key problems of the three wetlands and offered concrete recommendations for their conservation and sustainability.
The project has set up management offices for Zvanets and Sporovskoe reserves, which now operate in coordination with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of Bealrus. The experience of establishing such reserve management institutions has formed a basis for the decision of the Ministry of Environment to set up administrations for 37 other protected areas in Belarus.
The findings of the monitoring indicate
stabilization and increased breeding density of a globally endangered bird –
Aquatic Warbler. At present the number of birds is stable (80-100 singing males
per 100 ha). This has been largely achieved due to the project activities on
water level regulation in the wetlands.
The project has contributed to notable improvement of the situation in the protected areas. The project has made yet another step toward rehabilitation and conservation of wetlands in the country. However, consistent efforts are needed to sustain the results and a new follow-up project focusing on Polesie is now pending registration.
The intended objective of the next project is to address the problem of wetlands’ overgrowing with shrubs and reeds. On top of that, the project will assist in the creation of income-generation opportunities for local households, particularly through development of ecological tourism in the protected areas.
As a result of the work of APB-BirdLife Belarus and its UK partner organisation, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), supported by the United Nations Development Programme, the Darwin Initiative for the Survival of Species, Michael Otto Foundation for Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection the hydrological regime of the three unique fen mires in Belarus (Dikoe, Sporovo and Zvanets) has been improved for breeding the Aquatic Warbler, the only globally threatened songbird species of mainland Europe. By 2005 14 water regulating constructions have been built at Dikoe, Sporovo and Zvanets mires.
Monitoring data obtained at the beginning of 2005 showed that at the monitoring plots the density of breeding Aquatic Warblers is kept at a stable high level. The decline of the species has now been stopped at these three sites, which hold together around 60% of the species’ world population.
At Zvanets mire the population size has stabilized and at present sustainable increase in the density is observed; at Sporovo mire owing to the taken measures the population size is gradually increasing without abrupt falls that had been observed earlier; at Dikoe mire the population size is at stable low level.
Monitoring at Zvanets showed that the
ground water level across the bulk of the mire has elevated as a direct result
of the construction of overflow weirs.