Па-беларуску, калі ласка
Middle Prypjac Floodplain

Photo — www.agrotour.bizPhoto — www.agrotour.biz

Location: Brest Region: Stolin, Luninec, Pinsk Districts; Homel Region: Zhytkavichy District

Coordinates: 52°15 N 27°00 E 

Area: 90,447 ha

National Conservation Status:A Mid-Prypjac National Landscape zakaznik was established in 1999.

International Conservation Status:The area was designated with Ramsar site status in 2001 (criteria 1a. 1с. 2а. 3а. 3с. 4b).  An IBA was established in 1998 (code BY017, criteria A1, А4, В1, В2, В3).

The site is the largest floodplain tract of the main waterway of the Polesie region, i.e. the Prypjac river. The site is located between the mouths of the Yaselda and the Scviha rivers, and has preserved its naturalness well. The IBA is about 120 km long and 4–14 km wide.

Natural vegetation covers about 92% of the IBA. The site is very important for its primeval floodplain forests and meadows. Oak and black alder forests bearing typical Polesian flora and fauna dominate. The floodplain meadows of Mid-Prypjac are a model of typical natural Polesian meadows. The full assemblage of meadows is found on the site, from extremely waterlogged to steppe-type. The site has also retained a large share of a once widely spread European habitat – fen floodplain mires. The largest fens are located in the mouths of the Prypjact’s tributaries, the Yaselda and Styr rivres. The IBA is also famous for its picturesque lakes and oxbows, and for the channel of the Prypjac itself. The river valley hosts the largest alluvial landscape in Belarus and Europe.

The Prypjac and its tributaries belong to the flatland river type with a relatively low-level and large-scale spring flood, followed by a short period of no flooding in summer,  which almost every year is interrupted by floods. The flood period varies from 40-45 days on small rivers to 3.5-4 months on the Prypjac. The average water rise in spring is 3.5-4.5 m. Water level rises during rain (as compared to that during normal annual floods) are irregular and in some instances exceed spring floods. Rainfall and normal floods cam inundate the whole floodplain including dwellings, public and administrative buildings, and communication facilities.

Throughout the history of scientific research in the Mid-Prypjac Reserve, 182 bird species, including 155 breeding species, have been recorded with 52 National Red Data Book species are registered in the area, of which 39 breed. The Pripyat floodplain hosts constant and large populations of the following globally threatened species: Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola, Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga, Corncrake Crex crex, Great Snipe Gallinago media, Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca, and Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus.

For 27 bird species, the area supports more than 1% of their national populations. The floodplain of the Prypjac river has a special international value for several waterfowl species during their spring migration. The overall number of geese that migrate along the Prypjac floodplain is estimated at 50,000 individuals. The figure for Wigeon Anas penelope is estimated to be 30,000.

One of the «must visit» ornithological hot-spots of Mid-Prypjac is largest in mainland Europe colony of Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo and Grey herons Ardea cinerea in the mouth of Lan’ river located in a heavily waterlogged mixed oak-alder old-growth forest. Many rare bird  species enjoy the protection or special conditions of the colony, including Night heron Nycticorax nycticorax (the only known breeding site of the species in Belarus), Great white egret Egretta alba, Azure tit Parus cyanus.

Eleven plant species listed in the National Red Data Book can be found. These include very rare, formerly unknown to be occurring in the Polesie region, such as Three-toothed Saxifrage Saxifraga tridactilis, Fen Violet Viola stagnina, and Small-flowered Bittercress Cardamine parviflora.

The Prypjac floodplain supports considerable populations of several mammal species. It hosts the largest Belarusian breeding centres of Beaver Castor fiber, Otter Lutra lutra, Water Vole Arvicola terrestris, and Foumart Mustela putorius. The swampy forests and shrub stands are concentration grounds for Elk Alces alces and Wild Boar Sus scrofa.

The Mid Prypjac has favourable conditions for various amphibians and reptiles (16 species), including the rare Fresh-water Turtle Emys orbicularis, Running Toad Bufo calamita, and Tree Frog Hyla arborea. The Prypjac is one of the main fishing rivers in Belarus. 37 fish species are known to occur in the river and its floodplain waters. Balon’s Pope Gymnocephalus baloni was first found here in 1974: before that the species was considered to breed only in the Danube catchment. The river is also important for Sheat-fish Silurus glanis.