West Polesie

This transboundary biosphere reserve is located in the Central European Biogeographical Region, and is characterized by boreal coniferous forests and temperate zone deciduous forest.  West Polesie plays a critical role at the juncture of biogeographic regions, migrational pathways, and cultural landscapes.

Declaration Date: 2012
Administrative authorities:
Surface Area:
263,016 ha (48,024 ha in Belarus; 139,917 ha in Poland; 75,075 ha in Ukraine)
Core area: 15,323 ha (4,367 ha in Belarus; 5,224 ha in Poland; 5,732 ha in Ukraine)
Buffer zone: 80,877 ha (25,337 ha in Belarus; 43,215 ha in Poland; 12,325 ha in Ukraine)
Transition area: 166,816 ha (18,320 ha in Belarus; 91,478 ha in Poland; 57,018 ha in Ukraine)

Location
Latitude: 51°18’00”N – 51°57’00”N
Longitude: 22°38’11”E – 24°09’00”E
Central point: 51°30’28”N - 23°37’09”E

Ecological characteristics

The West Polesie biosphere reserve is characterized by a great number of lakes (several tens in Belarus, 62 in Poland and 28 in Ukraine) marshes, meadows, swamp and lake complexes with peculiar flora and fauna, including a number of rare and endangered species from the Red Books of Belarus, Poland and Ukraine and international Red Lists.

This region is a juncture of different bio-geographic zones, where  plant and animal species  exist on the edge of their geographical range including relic boreal species, Atlantic species and eastern-continental species as well as Pontian species.

The Polesie is the home of the globally endangered bird Aquatic warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola). It is also the breeding place for European endangered birds like Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis) and Eurasian cranes (Grus grus). The area is considered to be an important crossingpoint for migratory birds. The north-south flyways (White Sea-Baltic-Mediterranean migratory bird passage) and east-west latitudinal migration of birds meet in the Western Polesie.

Two endemic plant species can be found in the region: Silene lituanica and Festuca polessica as well as four rare Orchid species.

The West Polesie Biosphere Reserve will enlarge possibilities for biodiversity conservation in the European region, and at the same time will considerably mitigate boundary effects for migrating animals such as wolves, elk, European bison and others.

Socio-economic characteristics

The estimated population in the entire biosphere reserve is 68,000. More than 90% lives in the transition zone and the rest lives in the buffer zone.

The Polesie region is a melting pot of different influences of cultures, nationalities and religions such as Catholicism, Orthodoxian and Judaism. The biosphere reserve represents and protects a unique landscape at the cultural edge of  Eastern and Western Europe.

The main economic activities of this area are agriculture, tourism, weekend recreation, and sustainable forestry and fishing.

In rural areas there are many examples of traditional wooden architecture, which is characteristic of the Polesie region.

In 1993, as a result of an international agreement, the Euroregion “BUG” territory was formed to strengthen economic, cultural and environmental cooperation. The biosphere reserve will play a significant role in this cooperation.


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                                                                       Last updated: September 2012

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