Białowieża Forest (Padurea Bialowiza)

The Bialowieza Forest is located at the borderline between Belarus and Poland. The forest is actually the sole remaining portion from the vast forest that used to spread over the European Plain.

This article will solely look into the section of the Bialowieza Forest which is located in Belarus and which can be found at just 70 km north of the Belarusian town, Brest.  This is a natural biosphere which expands over more than 1,500 square kilometers, but the area the National Park consists of and which has been recognized as a World Heritage Site stretches over 876 square kilometers.

The natural reserve also comprises different types of facilities designated for the supervision and reproduction of animal life , as well as a zoo in which various species have found their home. This community consists of wisents, wild horses, wild boars, etc. While some of these animals have been reared inside the park, there are others which have their roots in these forests. The area has been once especially arranged so as to boost tourism and attract visitors to the area. Thus a restaurant was constructed, a small museum, and even accommodation facilities. But these were mainly built during the Soviet regime and the passage of time and lack of maintenance services had led to the deprecation of these facilities. The result was and is that not many venture into this part of the country and thus the area is not visited as it ought to be, especially since it seems a piece of heaven.

The Bialowieza Forest has a vast history. While the woodland was initially explored solely along the banks of streams, this later changed as several bridges and roads were constructed so as to ease traveling inside the forest.

The first legal document in which the forest is mentioned as a protected area goes back to the 16th century (1538), when King Sigismund I the Old issued a decree according to which anyone hunting wisents in the forest was sentenced to death.   The administration of the forests was bestowed on peasants who were acquitted of paying taxes in exchange of their commitment to taking care of the forest.

In 1992, the area became a part of the World Heritage List and it became widely recognized as a natural biosphere, protected under the UNESCO Program.

The part of the Bialowieza Forest which is located in Belarus has turned into an important tourist attraction mainly because an additional facility was constructed, the New Year Museum.

The beauty of the forest is striking as the woodland comprises a considerable number of ancient oak trees. Some of these grand trees are individually named due to their impressive characteristics. Their height and circumferences are colossal making the beholders see themselves as small and insignificant in front of the grandeur of these exquisite examples of nature.

For example, the Great Mamamuszi is among the thickest oak trees in the forest, its circumference reaching almost 7m. From all the ancient oak trees that exist in this part of the forest, this is the most relevant example, mainly because it is in the best condition possible, whereas the others show signs of decay. For instance, there is one such tree whose branches are no longer covered with leaves, while another misses its bark. But the rest of them are still standing proudly, and have reigned over the forest for 450 years – this is the age they are estimated to hold.