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      Biosphere Reserve Information



  General Description   Straddling the border between Poland and Belarus, this forest complex is situated in the transition between the boreal and temperate zone and represents the last remaining primary deciduous and mixed forest in the European lowland. It contains several tree species at the limit of their distribution: Norway spruce (Picea abies) reaches its southern limits of its northern range and the sessile oak (Quercus patraea) is here at its northeastern limit. It is composed of a mosaic of diverse forest communities, principally oak-lime-hornbeam and pine-spruce-oak.
Bialowieza was maintained as a royal hunting reserve until the 19th century. Though periodically subjected to high herbivore stocking rates, it escaped wide-scale felling and now represents primeval woodland. Following the establishment of the ‘National Park in Bialowieza’ in 1932 and its restoration in 1947, it was designated as biosphere reserve in 1977. The area is also designated as a transboundary World Heritage site and lies adjacent to the Belovezhskaya Pushcha Biosphere Reserve in Belarus.
About 100 people live within the biosphere reserve and some 3,000 people in villages close to the area (1997). Local communities benefit from tourism and use the area for bee keeping, charcoal production, animal breeding, hay meadows, game keeping as well as poaching. Some 96,000 tourists annually come to Bialowieza to visit the forest, the nature museum or the European bison (Bison bonasus) show enclosure (1997).
  Major ecosystem type   Temperate broadleaf forests or woodlands
  Major habitats & land cover types   Natural originated mixed deciduous forest of primaeval characteristic; European lowland with Picea abies, Pinus sylvestris, Carpinus betulus, Quercus robur, Tilia cordata etc.; woodlands composed of Salix cinerea, Betula humilis and Pinus sylvestris; meadows and aquatic communities with Pedicularis sceptrum-carolinum, Lathyrus laevigatus etc.; forestry systems
  Location   52°42' to 52°59'N; 23°43' to 23°56'E
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   10,502
  Core area(s)   4,747
  Buffer zone(s)   5,585
  Transition area(s) when given   170
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   +147 to +172
  Year designated   1976
  Administrative authorities   Ministry of Environment, Director of Bialowieza National Park

Last updated: 23/04/2010

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