Па-беларуску, калі ласка
Bjarezinski Reserve

Location:Vicebsk Region: Lepel and Dokshicy districts; Minsk Region: Barysau district

Coordinates:54°38 N 28°21 E

Area:81,756 ha

National Conservation Status:State Reserve (zapovednik) was established in 1925

International Conservation Status:Biosphere reserve was established in 1979. In 1993 the Council of Europe included the site into the network of biogenetic reserves. In 1995 the site received the Council of Europe’s Diploma. IBA was established here in 1998 (code — BY005, criteria В2, ВЗ). It is a potential Ramsar site (criterion 1а).

Bjarezinski reserve is the largest complex of pine forests mixed with bogs and fens, as well as river floodplains. The reserve’s nature is underscored by virgin forests and vast Sphagnum mires. The site retains some 50,700 ha of mires, now unique for Europe. The elevated northern and central parts of the mire are dominated by transition mires and bogs with isolated mineral islands covered by coniferous forests. The southern part of the reserve contains some large fen tracts, including the whole Bjarezina river floodplain. Forests are dominated by extensive pine-tree stands. Most pine forests are wet. Many of them are affiliated with bogs and transition mires.

Water has a special role and place in the condition and structure of the reserve, represented by the Berezina, smaller rivers and streams, canals, oxbows, floodplain water reservoirs, lakes.

Part of the site is located in the Berezina river basin, the other part is in the Essa river catchment. The water divide between the two catchments, which means also between the basins of the Baltic and Black seas, is located in the North-Eastern part of the reserve. There are 69 rivers and streams on the territory of the reserve, the largest being the Berezina. It starts 45 km North of the reserve’s boundary. Its length within the reserve is 110 km. The channel of the river is meandering, its valley contains many oxbows and floodplain lakes. The largest tributary to the Berezina is the Serguch river, 35 km long. Spring floods normally start in late March – early April and last for 20-40 days.

All lakes of the reserve are eutrophic and are getting rapidly overgrown with vegetation. The largest lake, Palik (712 ha) is a natural extension of the Berezina channel in the southern part of the reserve.

The site also contains the southern leg of the artificial Berezina water system which links the Berezina and Western Dvina rivers. This canal has an important hydrological role in that it helps maintain the water regime on the adjacent areas without affecting significantly the mire systems of the reserve.

The Berezinski reserve has been divided into several zones with varying degree of conservation. 6 zones have been established: the strictly protected zone, the buffer zone, economic zone, the excursion zone, the protection, and the hydrological zone. The strictly protected zone occupies 47.2% of the overall area of the reserve. Economic activities (agriculture) can be carried out in the economic zone (7,000 ha). The protection zone, which is 2 km wide, surrounds the reserve. The lands of this zone are used by forestries and collective farms. Any activities that may negatively affect the natural state of the reserve are prohibited on this zone. Land-exploitation and drainage activities are prohibited in the hydrological zone (5 km wide along the boundary of the zapovednik).

The diverse natural conditions in the reserve defines high diversity of fauna and flora. The fauna list of the Berezinski reserve includes 230 bird species, including 179 breeding species. These are mainly forest and wetland species, to a lesser extent these are species affiliated with open spaces and dwellings. 56 National Red Data Book bird species have been recorded on the territory of the reserve.  Black Stork Ciconia nigra, Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus, Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus, Osprey Pandion haliaetus. The globally threatened Corncrake Crex crex is common on breeding here. A substantial breeding population of the Bittern Botaurus stellaris has been recorded here.

The flora of the reserve currently includes more than 2,000 plant species, including 798 vascular plant species. Whereas the shares of cold-resisting plants and thermophytes are approximately equal for the whole Belarus (the latter slightly dominating), the Berezinski reserve on the other hand is characterized by domination of cold-resisting plant species.

Three new for Belarus plant species have been identified on the territory of the reserve: Omalotheca supina (is located here far beyond its southern range boundary), Carex paupercula, Cystopteris sudetica (an isolated population of this relict species is found in the reserve). 37 plant species are listed in the National Red Data Book of Belarus.

56 mammal species occur on the territory of the reserve, including 8 National Red Data Book species: European Bison Bison bonasus, Brown Bear Ursus arctos, Badger Meles meles, Lynx Felis linx, Lesser Noctule Nyctalus leisleri, Garden Dormouse Eliomus quercinus.

6 reptile and 11 amphibian species have been recorded on the territory of the reserve. One species – Running Toad Bufo calamita is listed in the National Red Data Book.