Belovezhskaya Pushcha is the largest remnant of the relic primeval lowland forests that have existed all over Europe since pre-historic times. All truly virgin forests have gradually been felled and remained more or less intact only in the Bialowieza region as large woodland.
In 1991, the State Protected Game Ground "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" was turned to the State National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha". Its territory was divided into 4 functional zones with different regimes of nature protection and management. In 1992, by decision of UNESCO, the best-preserved section of the old-growth forests of Belovezhskaya Pushcha was inscribed onto a List of World Heritage Sites. Belovezhskaya Pushcha became the first object within the territory of the former USSR to be awarded such a high rank. In 1993, Belovezhskaya Pushcha was given the status of a Biosphere Reserve and, in 1997, the Council of Europe awarded the National Park with a European Diploma. Currently, the State Nature Protection Establishment "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" is under the jurisdiction of the President's Affairs Administration of the Republic of Belarus."
Belovezhskaya Pushcha is a unique and largest area of ancient forests typical for Central Europe lowland. The average age of forest stands within the Belovezhskaya Pushcha is more than 100 years and separate patches of the forest are aged about 350 years. A big number of giant trees are recorded in the Forest (400 to 600-year old Oaks, 250 to 350-year old Ashes and Pines and 200 to 250-years old Spruces).
The richness of species of plants and animals in Belovezhskaya Pushcha is surpassed nowhere in other lowland areas of Europe. It is a kind of "node of concentration" of biodiversity. About 70% of the plants found on the territory of Belarus grow here (more than 1000 species of high vascular plants, about 270 species of mosses, more than 290 species of lichens, about 600 species of fungi).
The Fauna List of Belovezhskaya Pushcha includes 59 species of mammals, more than 227 birds, 7 reptiles, 11 amphibians, 27 fishes and more than 10,000 species of insects. The largest worldwide population of European bison (Belovezha subspecies) inhabits this forest. In terms of large herbivorous animals Red deer, Wild boar, Roe deer and European elk can be found and amongst predators Wolf, Fox, Lynx, Badger, Pine marten, Otter and others species are present. Pushcha has retained unique associations of invertebrates, inhabitants of dead and rotten wood, Polyporus fungies and bogs and fens. Many rare and threatened species of Flora and Fauna listed in the Red Book of the Republic of Belarus populate the forest (Silver fir, Durmast oak, Turk’s cap lily (Martagon lily), Great masterwort, Lyly ladybell, European bison, Lynx, Badger, White-tailed eagle, Short-toed eagle, Black stork, Crane, Lesser spotted eagle, Eagle-owl, Great grey owl, Pygmy owl, White-backed woodpecker, Three-toed woodpecker, Roller and many other species).
Belovezhskaya Pushcha is located in the
The area of the National Park is about 150,083 ha. The total area of the State Nature Protection Establishment "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" (together with two forestry and game grounds: Shereshovskoe Forestry and Game Ground - 11,539 hectares and Vygonovskoe Forestry and Game Ground - 10,854 hectares) is 172 476 hectares [at present, 2019].
The state border between the Republic of Poland and the Republic of Belarus crosses Belovezhskaya Pushcha. The watershed of the Baltic and Black Seas is next to Pushcha. In order to preserve the unique nature in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, 4 functional zones with different modes of protection have been allocated – Wilderness Protection Zone, Regulated Nature Zone, Regulated Recreational Use Area and Economic Activity Zone.
As a protected natural area, Belovezhskaya Pushcha has been known since the late XIV - early XV centuries. Since 1413, it was in Polish ownership, and in 1795 it became part of Russia. In 1919, the Pushcha passed to Poland, where in 1921 the "Reserve" Forestry (totally 4,693 hectares) has covered 1,061 hectares with strict protection. In 1939, Belovezhskaya Pushcha formed part of the Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic and the State Nature Reserve "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" was established in its territory. In 1957, Pushcha was reorganized into the State Protected Game Ground, which in 1991 was reorganized into the State National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha".
Currently, the State Nature Protection Establishment "The National Park "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" is a major tourist center of Belarus. There are the Museum of Nature, animals with open-air cages, comfortable hotels and guest houses, a restaurant, sports fields, etc. Special tourist routes (hiking, cycling, horseback riding, automobile) have been developed, where you, accompanied by a professional guide, can watch the beauty of Belovezhskaya Pushcha Primeval Forest and learn about history and the Government Residence "Viskuli", where the well-known "Belovezhskoe Accords" were signed in 1991, concerning the disaffiliation of independent republics from the Soviet Union and the establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Visitors to the Park can also get acquainted with historical and cultural monuments - the Estate of Tyshkevich Count, the old royal tract, as well as with some others located around the National Park, for example, the ancient tower of the XIII century "Kamenetskaya Tower", a rare church ensemble, etc.
- Description of the Polish part of Bialowieza Forest (in Polish and English) is on the website of the Bialowieza National Park (Bialowieski Park Narodowy).
More about Belovezhskaya Pushcha =>[History] [Geographical location and general information] [Climate, hydrology, geology and geomorphology] [Soils] [Flora and vegetation] [Fauna] [National Park's structure] [Protection] [Science and research] [Cultural monuments and tourism] [Belarusian Grandfather Frost's Residence] [Economic activity] [Maps and schemes] [Addresses and contacts]