donderdag 17 mei 2012

Belarus, Belovezhskaya Pushcha / Białowieża Forest

Situated on the watershed of the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, this immense forest range, consisting of evergreens and broad-leaved trees, is home to some remarkable animal life, including rare mammals such as the wolf, the lynx and the otter, as well as some 300 European Bison, a species which has been reintroduced into the park.

The Białowieża Primeval Forest is the last remaining primary deciduous and mixed forest of the European lowlands. Located on the watershed of the Baltic and Black seas, this immense forest range consisting of evergreens and broadleaved trees is the home of some remarkable animal life, including rare and interesting mammals. The park comprises about one-tenth of the entire Białowieża Primeval Forest, which has a wide range of flora and fauna typical of both Western and Eastern Europe.
The park protects a part of the last and one of the largest surviving areas of European primeval lowland mixed forest: pine, beech, oak, alder and spruce. The forest dates back to 8000 BC and is the only remaining example of the original forests, which once covered much of Europe.
These wilderness areas are inhabited by European bison, a species reintroduced into the park in 1929, elk, stag, roe deer, wild boar, lynx, wolf, fox, marten, badger, otter, ermine, beaver and numerous bats. It is also a showplace reserve for tarpan (Polish wild forest horse). The avifauna includes corncrake, white-tailed eagle, white stork, peregrine falcon and eagle owl.
Situated in the transition between the boreal and temperate zone in south-west Belarus, on the border with central Poland, the site contains elements of northern and southern flora. Almost 90% of the park is covered with 'old growth' virgin stands of mixed broadleaved and conifer forests. Over 900 vascular plant species have been recorded, including 26 tree and 138 shrub species. Almost two-thirds are indigenous with the remainder being anthropogenic introductions.
Białowieski National Park is the oldest national park in Poland and one of the oldest in Europe. It was founded as 'Reserve' forestry in 1921 but officially established as a National Park in Białowieża in 1932. In 1947 it was restored as the Białowieski National Park. At one time the property of Polish kings, the Białowieski Forests have survived in an almost unaltered form. It is without doubt the most valuable natural area in the European lowlands.

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