The Berezinskiy Biosphere Reserve

The Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve occupies a unique place on the map of the Republic of Belarus and Europe as a whole. This wild landscape is home to the five “Great European” big mammals: elk, bison, bear, wolf, and lynx. These animals thrive within the reserve’s untouched forests, long rivers, vast meadows, and endless marshes.

For its many achievements, the reserve has been awarded a number of honourable titles, and one of the most notable is its status of a biosphere reserve. In 1979 the unique reserve was included in the UNESCO “Man and the Biosphere International Programme” (MAB), among the first nature protection institutions in the former Soviet Union, and has held this title for over 40 years.

In 1995 the reserve, the first in the Repulic of Belarus, managed to get another prestigious international award — the European Diploma for Protected Areas. Thanks to its unique natural features, in 2010 the territory of the reserve was included in the Ramsar List of Wetlands. It also belongs to the Emerald Network of Europe and has titles of key botanical and ornithological areas.

What is the main value of its territory? First and foremost, it is a unique mosaic of untouched forests, vast continuous areas of bogs, a unique complex of floodplain meadows of the Berezina river, and lakes fringed by bogs.

The introduction of technical innovations and modern developments comes to the aid of scientific research, monitoring and nature protection. For more than 7 years in the Berezinskiy Reserve photo traps have been used for observation and registration of the species composition of animals. Possibilities to survey the territory have considerably expanded thanks to the use of a quadcopter.

The ecological and tourist activity of the reserve becomes one of the most dynamic in recent years. Nearly 50 thousand visitors come to the reserve every year. Eco-trails have been developed and weekend excursions into the wild nature are successfully organized.

Special areas have been set aside for people living in the reserve to ensure the normal life of the people who live there. Locals are actively involved in international cultural events taking place in the reserve. For example, since 2019, the mythological festival “The Dragon’s Way” has been held here.

Obviously, the Berezinskiy Biosphere Reserve has great prospects for its further development, with much to be done. And its fruitful cooperation with other UNESCO biosphere reserves in the Russian Federation, France and Poland is an important support. The closest and long-lasting connections were established with the “Regional Nature Park of the Northern Vosges” (France) since 1990s. In 2006 another party joined the Belarusian-French cooperation of natural areas — the “Kampinos National Park” (Poland), which is also a part of the UNESCO programme. We hope that cooperation with these and other biosphere reserves of the MAB Programme will continue to expand and develop.

Anastasia Ryzhkova, Senior Researcher of the Berezinskiy Biosphere Reserve State Nature Protection Institution,
Denis Ivkovich (photo)
Produced in partnership with the National Commission of the Republic of Belarus for UNESCO.