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The Valozhyn District is to Become a Center of Eco-Tourism
The new land management plan of the Valozhyn district provides for conservation of its biological diversity, development of eco-tourism, creation of the republican-level landscape reserve and optimization of its administrative and territorial arrangements.
The land management plan of the Valozhyn district reflects the findings of the inventory of its biological and landscape diversity. These findings are also mainstreamed into the forestry and hunting management plans of the district. This would ensure the comprehensive protection of rare and endangered animals and plants in its territory. The respective works have been carried out within the framework of UNDP/GEF Project “Mainstreaming Biodiversity Conservation into Territorial Planning Policies and Practices in Belarus”. The project implementing agency is the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus.
The inventory of biodiversity in the Valozhyn district has identified habitats of 39 wildlife species and 42 species of wild plants inscribed in the Red Book of the Republic of Belarus. In particular, the inventory has found the largest in the country populations of lunaria annua, dentaria bulbifera and allium ursinum and the third in the country habitat of a rare butterfly – apatura iris.
The protection certificates have been prepared for 84 habitats of the Red Book species. The habitats of rare animals and plants inscribed in the Red Book of the Republic of Belarus located in the territory of the Valozhyn Experimental Forestry Enterprise have been assigned the status of specially protected areas in the new land management plan.
Valentin Shatravko, Head of Forestry Department of the Ministry of Forestry of the Republic of Belarus, said that “Having received the findings of the inventory of biodiversity in the district, our specialists can mainstream them into the forest management plan of the Volozin forestry enterprise. We have used this approach for the first time and it has proved its effectiveness in forestry planning.”
Biodiversity conservation issues have also been reflected in the hunting management plan of the Valozhyn district unit of the Republican Public Association “The Belarusian Society of Hunters and Fishermen”. First of all, hunting for swimming and wetland birds during the period of their spring flight is now subject to restrictions. The territories with high concentration of rare and protected bird species have been assigned the status of «peace zones». Among them is the Sakovschinskaje water reservoir where hundreds of bird flocks are concentrated in the migration period.
Secondly, the hunting management plan provides for the measures to regulate the number of wild boar, raccoon dog and fox in mating and nesting places of heath cock. This would enable to sustain the population of heath cock which tends to decrease.
Thirdly, the distinctive feature of the Valozhyn district is the considerable number of small rivers which are the habitats of the protected species including trout and grayling. However, there is a conflict between preservation of their migration routes and maintaining of the high numbers of beaver. Therefore, the hunting management plan provides for a trade-off solution i.e. the implementation of measures to prevent creation by beavers of dams in small river heads where trout and grayling go for spawning.
Generally, the UNDP/GEF project experts say that mainstreaming biodiversity conservation into the land management plan of the Valozhyn district does not contravene the economic interests of the district.
The UNDP/GEF project has developed the action plan for the organization of “green hunting” for wood grouse in the Valozhyn district. Wood grouse in inscribed in the IUCN list of the protected species. However, hunting for wood grouse is allowed in Belarus and its population in the country has decreased by almost 10 times over the last decades.
Vladimir Koltunov, UNDP/GEF Project Manager, says that “Arrangement of ornithological tours or bird watching can become a reasonable alternative to hunting for a wood grouse. This form of active rest is very popular all over the world. Our experts believe that the Valozhyn district has a high potential as a center of eco-tourism capable to attract many Belarusian and foreign visitors”.
Measures for arrangement of ornithological tours have been outlined as a separate area of the activity of the Republican Unitary Enterprise “Belgosokhota” which is a new practice of hunting management in Belarus. Besides, creation of new tourist facilities is in line with the management and development plans for the Nalibokskaja Puscha.
The measures recommended in the land management plan of the Valozhyn district include consolidation of several protected areas near the Bortniki village into a new republican-level landscape or geological reserve. Up to 12 views can be watched in the area while the availability of 6-8 views is considered as a high level of attractiveness. Creation of the new reserve will enable to optimize the mechanisms of its protection and management and to include it in the list of tourist sites of the district.
High level of urbanization and active use of land plots for construction of dachas are the socio-economic specifics of the Valozhyn district. There are 88 gardening cooperatives with 10.2 thousand land plots in the district. Almost 98% members of the gardening cooperatives are the Minsk dwellers. Therefore, the land management plan of the district contains a proposal to transfer about 2000 hectares the Valozhyn district lands where more than 6.5 thousand plots are located to the Minsk district. This would allow to improve the administrative structure of the districts, to arrange their infrastructure in a more efficient way as well as to improve the level of services to households.
“Mainstreaming Biodiversity Conservation into Territorial Planning Policies and Practices in Belarus” is a project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Global Environment Facility. The project will be implemented in Belarus between January 2010 and January 2014. The project implementing agency is the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus.
The project develops land management plans reflecting the biodiversity conservation issues for 10 “pilot” administrative district. The land management plans are already available for the Karelicy, Ivacevicy and the Valozhyn districts; by end 2011 it is expected to develop the land management plan for the Rassony district; in 2012-2013 for the Babruisk, the Hlubokaje, the Recica, the Rahacou, the Klichau and the Slonim districts.
The development of the land management plans for the “pilot” districts will build up comprehensive experience of matching land management and biodiversity conservation aspects. By 2014 it is intended to replicate the knowledge and experience in another 40 administrative districts i.e. to cover 36% of Belarus’ territory. Further information is available at www.biodiversity.by.
For further information, please contact: Irina Novak, Public Relations Officer of UNDP/GEF Project, mobile: +37529 618-99-59, email: .
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