Bialowieza Forest

Białowieża Forest


a large forest area located on the border between the USSR and Poland in the watershed of the basins of the Neman, Zapadnyi Bug, and Pripya rivers in Poles’e and the Mazoviia-Podlasie lowland. Total area, approximately 1,250 sq km (of which 740 sq km are in the USSR, on the territories of Brest and Grodno oblasts, Byelorussian SSR).

Topographically, the Białowieza Forest is a hilly outwash plain (elevation, 150–170 m), with sandy, clayey, boggy podzolic, peat bog, and soddy podzolic soils. Pines (more than 50 percent), mixed pine forests, firs, alders, aspen groves, and large areas of oaks and hornbeams dominate the vegetative cover, alternating with swampy expanses, bogs, and peat bogs. The diversity of vegetation has created good conditions for the existence of such valuable mammals as the aurochs, red deer, boar, roe deer, beaver, hare, skunk, squirrel, pine marten, ermine, weasel, badger, otter, lynx, and fox. Birds found in this forest include the capercaillie, hazel hen, and black grouse; the merlin, red kite, black kite, short-toed eagle, greater spotted eagle, lesser spotted eagle, booted eagle, and other daytime predators; the great snipe, snipe, ruff, and other swamp birds; and various owls, ducks, the woodcock, and black stork. A total of more than 50 species of mammals and over 200 species of birds inhabits the Białowieza Forest.

In the eastern part of the forest, on the territory of the USSR, a game preserve has been organized. It has an area of 85,000 hectares (ha) with 63 aurochs (1969). In the western part of the forest, on the territory of Poland, there is a national park (a preserve) which has an area of 5,071 ha (of which 4,700 ha are an absolutely reserved territory) with 151 aurochs (1969).

The wealth and diversity of the fauna in the Białowieza Forest contributed to its becoming a favorite hunting place for Polish kings as early as the 14th century and for Russian tsars beginning in the late 18th century.

The cutting down of trees in the Białowieza Forest and large-scale lumbering operations led to a gradual reduction in the number of aurochs. At the beginning of the 20th century there were approximately 700 head of aurochs in the forest. During World War I and the first few years after the war, all the aurochs were exterminated. In 1929, eight aurochs from Sweden and Germany were brought to the Białowieza Forest; they were protected. (A feeding station for aurochs was established.) In 1939, after the reunification of the territory of western Byelorussia with the USSR, a preserve with 16 aurochs was organized on the forest’s territory.

During World War II the trees and fauna in the Białowieza Forest suffered badly. Under a treaty of 1944 about the state border of the USSR, the western part of the forest with its feeding station for aurochs and the town of Białowieza were included in Poland. After the end of the war ten aurochs were received from Poland, and efforts were begun to increase their number. Beginning in the 1950’s free maintenance of the aurochs was introduced, as well as regular feeding during the winter months.

Research is being done in the Białowieza Forest on the ecology of the game animals and birds, efficient use of its vegetative cover, the preservation of valuable plants, and the correct management of lumbering operations. The Białowieza Forest Nature Museum is in the game preserve; the Nature Museum is in the Polish national park.


Kartsev, G. P. Belovezhskaia pushcha. St. Petersburg, 1903.
[Romanov, V. S., and G. B. Nadezhdin.] Belovezhskaia pushcha, 2nd ed. Minsk, 1967.
Kester, B. V., and S. V. Shostak. Proshloe i nastoiashchee Be-lovezhskoi pushchi. Moscow, 1968.
Belovezhskaia pushcha: Issledovanniia, issues 1–3. Minsk, 1958–69.
Zapovedniki Sovetskogo Soiuza. Edited by A. G. Bannikov. Moscow, 1969.


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The removals of Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski and Environment Minister Jan Szyszko, whose decision to cut trees in the pristine Bialowieza Forest has led to a procedure against Poland at the European Court of Justice, shows a will to mend fences within the EU.
Poland reacted coolly to a warning it could incur fines for continuing to log in the Bialowieza forest, a UnescoWorld Heritage site, saying on Tuesday its actions were lawful.
To complete the picture, you should also know that Polish government refuses to follow the interim measures issued by the European Court of Justice with regard to the logging in the Bialowieza Forest and the Polish government has announced further measures with regard to, what is called, 'deconcentration of the media'.
Poland said on Monday it would press on with logging the country's primeval Bialowieza forest in defiance of a ruling by the European Union's top court, saying it needed to cut down trees to defeat insect pests, according to Straitstimes.
The Polish Bialowieza forest is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and part of it is considered as Europe's last unspoiled woodland.
5 adults/ha, Juskaitis 2015) are similar to those in the Polish part of the Bialowieza forest (0.
Bialowieza Forest, Belarus/Poland, is an extension of and a new proposal for the Belovezhskaya Pushcha/Bialowieza transboundary site on the border between Poland and Belarus, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979.
In Europe, for instance, Wolves are known to prey and scavenge on European Bison (Bison bonasus) in the Bialowieza Forest, Poland, where both species have co-existed since the 1920s (Jedrzejewski and others 2002; Selva and others 2003).
Two European bison lock horns in Poland's Bialowieza Forest National Park in a Stefano Unterthiner picture, which is so detailed we see the snow shaken off in the impact.