20 YEARS Olmansk swamps


For many thousands of years the natural landscape and biotopes have been formed with habitats and growth of animals and plants in the territory of Polesye.

Today, this rare and preserved in its natural state ecosystem requires special attention to itself.

Therefore, on November 12, 1998, the Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus established the Republican landscape reserve “Olmansky swamps” in this area in order to preserve, restore, protect and sustainably use the natural landscape complexes of Pripyat Polesye.

The Republican landscape reserve is known as the largest in the Polissya and one of the largest whole forest-bog complex in Europe, its area is 94,219 hectares.

The territory of the Olmansky swamp massif is represented by two extensive open transitional and lowland swamps (Red and Halo), as well as areas of high bogs with residual lakes and high mineral islands – remnants, usually in the form of narrow ridges. The main waterway that drains the territory of the Olmansky swamps is the Stviga River and its tributaries. In addition to Swigi, the river flows along the northwestern border of the reserve. Leo As in the floodplain of the Lions, and Stvigi there are several small old lakes. Two lakes, the Big (100 hectares) and the Malaya Zasominnye (3.4 hectares), belong to the extra-floodplains. The Olmansky swamps differ from other Belarusian swamp complexes not only by their large size, but also by their high state preservation, the stability of hydrological conditions, and the high diversity of swamp formations .

         This truly unique territory has been preserved in our man-made XXI century almost in its original form due to a number of subjective circumstances. Once there were the hunting lands of the Radziwills, where the prince was strictly forbidden to any economic activity, only occasionally held grand-ducal hunting. Therefore, for many years there was a truly reserved regime. In the 1930s, Polish scientists turned their attention to the uniqueness of the local natural landscape and substantiated the need to create a reserve on the basis of the Olmansky swamps. However, the plans could not be implemented, World War II prevented. After the Great Patriotic War, the Olmansky swamps once again fall into the sphere of attention of scientists, now from the Central Botanical Garden of the BSSR, where all the necessary materials were collected to declare a protected area. But then the military intervened, and instead of the reserve, an aviation range appeared among the vast Polissya swamps. For a long time the territory of the Olmansky swamps was used as a military training ground of the Warsaw Pact countries. However, this also contributed to the preservation of the natural complex: people were not allowed to enter the territory where the shooting and military tests took place, residents of many villages along the Swig were relocated to other areas. As a result, a huge swampy massif was formed in its natural form – and without settlements, and without human activities. This is an ideal condition for creating a reserve: after all, almost any specially protected natural area (PANT) has residential villages where the local population needs to farm but there are no such villages here. Of course, this advantage is not decisive.

         The reserve has the status of a wetland of international importance (Ramsar territory since 2001), and is also part of the Ramsar territory “Olmany-Perebrody”, has the status of a territory of international importance important for birds, and is also a potential object of the Emerald Network. The Olmansky bogs are distinguished from similar bog massifs by their large size, good preservation, stability of hydrological conditions, as well as constant watering of the territory due to the release of groundwater here to the surface of the earth. It is believed that the territory of the modern reserve was the coastal zone of the legendary “Sea of ​​Herodotus”, which, as expected, was formed as a result of the melting of the last glacier.

         Olmansky swamps in reality are an interesting mosaic of upland, low-transitional and lowland swamps, they have no analogues in the European region. About 40% are occupied by open swamps, mostly transitional, covered with moss and rare birch; almost 50% are swamp forests; occasionally sand dunes and islets of pine forests; extremely rare – dry pine forests and floodplain oak forests.

         Such a unique landscape and the scale of the territory contributes to the richness of biodiversity. In the European part of Russia, for example, upland swamps with a very poor fauna are the most common. In Olmansky swamps there are species of various ecological complexes.

The flora of the reserve is characterized by high diversity, 685 species of plants are found here (15 species are listed in the Red Book of Belarus), 26 species of mammals (not counting small insectivorous, rodents and bats) are found, 3 of which are listed in the Red Book – European lynx, badger, hazelnut dormouse. The fauna is also rich and diverse, there are 225 species of them. It is reliably known that in the reserve there are 2 species of rare reptiles listed in the Red Book of the Republic of Belarus – the cooper and the marsh turtle.

         The species composition of birds is represented by about 200 species (22 of them are listed in the Red Book of Belarus). The territory of the reserve is an important place for the concentration of wetland bird species in nesting and migration.

         The largest nesting group of the great spotted eagle, 18–20 pairs, and also 100–150 pairs of the warping warbler lives in the Olmansky Moor Reserve.

         After the liquidation of the military range in the territory of the reserve “Olmansky swamps”, the recreational load (10472 people) increased significantly, especially in recent years. Mushroom picking has become a tangible item for people to replenish their budget, especially for residents of border villages in neighboring Ukraine, who, after paying for a year, are allowed to visit the sanctuary, which is more than 500 people. According to preliminary information, on average, up to 2 thousand people a day in the zakaznik reserve, forest collectors mainly citizens of our country. For the year, the above citizens earn a total of up to 3 million rubles. The administration of the reserve preserves the main goal of involving the local population in the protection of these territories through environmental education. In 2018-2019, there is a project of international assistance on the joint and sustainable use of natural resources of wetlands of a transboundary system Republic of Belarus – Ukraine, the amount of the project is 245 thousand euros.

          It has been established that the main factors of anthropogenic origin that have a negative impact on the natural complex of the reserve are drainage amelioration, road construction, burning of dry vegetation and forest fires, industrial and amateur harvesting of wild berries.

At the same time, despite the inexpediency of logging due to the inaccessibility of almost the entire reserve area for equipment and low consumer qualities of the forest, the economic activity of the local leshoz is gaining momentum. Amateur fishing on lakes, rivers Leo and Stvig is allowed.

          Currently, the economic and recreational impact on the Olmansky swamps is gaining momentum, but has not yet reached irreversible effects.


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