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Belovezhskaya Pushcha status on UNESCO World Heritage List modified

Belovezhskaya Pushcha which is located on the border of Belarus and Poland became the transboundary site on the UNESCO World Heritage, BelTA learnt from the scientific department of the National Park.

The World Heritage Committee approved the extension of the transboundary site in Poland and Belarus at the 38th session in Doha on 23 June. The transboundary object is now called Bialowieza Forest (Belovezhskaya Pushcha) with a total area of 141,885 hectares, of which 81,000 are in Belarus. Together with the buffer zone the area of the forest is 308,583 hectares.

The committee also adopted a proposal for the new nomination criteria that better reflect the exceptional value of the Europe oldest forest. Earlier Belovezhskaya Pushcha was on the world heritage list under criterion VII, which implies the possession of an outstanding aesthetic value. Now the natural complex is nominated under the more appropriate criteria IX and X. Criterion IX corresponds to an object that is a unique example of important ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial ecosystems and communities of plants and animals. Criterion X corresponds to an object which includes the most important habitats for conservation of biological diversity in situ, including endangered species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

Belovezhskaya Pushcha on the border between Poland and Belarus was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979. Then it was the part on the Polish side, Bialowieski Park Narodowy. In 1991, an application was made for inclusion of the Belarusian part of Belovezhskaya Pushcha, which at that time had the status of State National Park with the area of 87,600 hectares. After visiting the park experts from UNESCO and the International Union for Conservation of Nature recommended the park to nominate the part of the wilderness protection zone adjacent to the existing world heritage site on the Polish side. Then by decision of the committee the transboundary world heritage site was created under the name Belovezhskaya Pushcha/ Bialowieza Forest, which included 4,747 hectares on the Polish side and 5,250 hectares in Belarus.

In 2008, on the recommendation of UNESCO experts Belarus and Poland began working on the re-nomination of the object, suggested a new name and criteria for the recognition, and new the boundaries of the territory. The two sides agreed to the new name recognizable around the world - Bialowieza Forest.

Belarus and Poland completed the work in 2013 and filed the documents to the World Heritage Committee.

According to Deputy Director General of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park Vasyly Arnolbik, specialists of the scientific department together with Polish colleagues will soon start developing the plan of management of the transboundary world heritage site in its new borders. The administrations of the two parks have already organized the steering joint committee of 12 people. We will closely interact and work on the outstanding universal value of the object. I believe that all these changes will contribute to further growth of popularity of Belovezhskaya Pushcha and will help increase tourist flows. In addition, we will have more opportunities to implement environmental projects and research," said Vasily Arnolbik.
Tags: ecologyscience