The Greater Spotted Eagle, the Capercaillie, the Nightjar. The time goes by and the Birds of the Year gradually change. The year 2020 was quite a tough one for Belarusians, and the start of the year 2021 didn't bring much optimism as well. Probably, a great many would like to have at least quick glance of the year 2022. What is awaiting us in the future?
As for the APB-BirdLife Belarus, we did our best to perform our work in 2020. We are glad to present you here the fruits of our efforts. Cheer up, dear friends! It's all going to be exactly as you wish it!
Alexandre Vintchevski CEO, The APB-BirdLife Belarus
In Palessie region, all of the 55 known the Spotted Eagle nesting sites were inspected. There have been found 38 nests, from which 22 were known before and 16 were just found in 2020. The new found nests should be checked in the year 2021.
In Brest and Hrodna regions a five-year moratorium for hunting the Western European subspecies of the Capercaillie has been introduced.
There have been found about 100 new habitats of rare animals and plants. Within the framework of the "Palessie - Wildlife without Borders" project the experts are preparing passports and protection obligations for them.
In October the "Jelnia Bog" IBA (Important Bird Area) keepers counted 7,500 Common Cranes resting here during the migration period, which is a record high amount.
The APB Working Group on Raptors (WGR) members have built artificial nests for the rare species: 22 platforms for the Osprey, six units for the Golden Eagle and one – for the Eagle Owl. The specialists set up four nest boxes for the BarnOowls, two nest boxes for the Little Owls and prepared two wall niches for the Kestrels.
The WGR members have found three new Osprey nests and one nest of the Golden Eagle. At the moment, this is the only known Golden Eagle nest in the country.
The WGR have monitored White-tailed Eagle nests in the southwest and in the Paazierje region. 10 chicks were ringed. Osprey nests have also been monitored, there 26 chicks got ringed.
The WGR members have prepared protection passports for six Osprey nests and one Hobby nest. Thanks to the documents drafted by the WGR members in the past the two Osprey nests received protection from the executive committees. At the present moment, they are working on the nest protection documents drafted before the year 2020.
Within the framework of the "Save the Eaglet" campaign the APB specialists visited 17 nesting areas of the Greater Spotted Eagle. As a result of the campaign 4 new nests have been found.
The Forest Working Group (FWG) in cooperation with the APB Wetland Centre has prepared about 300 passports and protection obligations for the rare species. As a volunteer assistance to the forestries the FWG members prepared more than 100 passports and protection commitments.
More than 700 rare species habitats were added to the protected species database created by the FWG. At the moment the database includes more than 2,000 habitats of 150 rare animal species as well as plants and mushrooms.
As an own initiative and within various APB projects the APB Forest Working Group members conducted field research in more than 30 districts (more than 20 forestries). As a result of the work about 500 rare animal species habitats as well as plants and mushrooms have been found.
Thanks to the use of the artificial intelligence within the "Palessie - Wildlife without Borders" cross-border project 15 bat species were detected. It was the first time when this technology was used for censusing the bats. The acoustic recorders saved 70,000 audio files at 131 locations in Belarus and Ukraine.
In 2020, basing on the documents drafted by the FWG members the district executive committees took up the protection decisions on more than 130 habitats for rare animals and plants. More than 3,000 ha of forests in Palessie have received special protection status.
Upon the APB request, within the framework of the "Palessie - Wildlife without Borders" project in order to evaluate the new power transmission lines impact on the wildlife in Palessie the Institute of Experimental Botany (IEB) performed the corresponding research – "Assessing the impact of the linear infrastructure construction and maintenance on biological diversity of the Republic of Belarus".
Together with the estate "Zajimka Lešaha" and Scientific and Practical Centre of NAS of Belarus for Bioresources the wood grouse broods' census was organized in Rasony and Vierchniadzvinsk districts. For six days on 25 routes with total length of 247 km we counted 40 Capercaillies, 78 Hazel grouses and 3 Black grouses.
Most of the country's largest Speckled Ground Squirrel' colony in the Niasviž district, as well as two colonies in the Kapyl district, have already been handed over under the protection of the land users. Another 78 passports and protection obligations for the Flying Squirrel and 4 passports for the Speckled Ground Squirrel have been handed over to the regional committees of natural resources and environmental protection.
The data from 16 phototraps set at the Greater Spotted Eagle nests have been analyzed. Seven new birds have been marked by transmitters (two of them from in the Chernobyl zone). The daily tracking of 21 Greater Spotted Eagles was performed. All the available data on the known eagle nesting sites have been classified, on the whole the count comes up to 131 sites.
The following APB suggestions have been accepted and added to the Hunting Rules and related decrees: excluding of the Common Pochard from the species allowed for spring hunting, serious increasing of the damage fee for the illegal hunt on the Accipitriformes and Perissodactyla animals (Polish konik, Przewalski's horse), minimizing loss for the illegal hunt on the following species – the raccoon dog, the muskrat, the American mink. Decree № 345 of September 16, 2020.
The APB suggested amendments to the Resolution of the Council of Ministers "Rules for the Protection and Rational Use of Europeam Bison". Some of the APB amendments were accepted. Ministerial order № 708 dated December 7, 2020.
The APB volunteers have started common bird monitoring on 15 km2 of the forest area.
"The Almany Mires" Republican Reserve area is going to be extended by almost 10,000 ha. The reserve which from now on will occupy as much as 103,934.84 ha received new territories under protection. Within the framework of the "Palessie - Wildlife without Borders" project the scientific feasibility study has been prepared and submitted to the Council of Ministers.
The APB Forest Working Group with support of the APB Wetland Center has worked out the management plans for High Conservation Values (HCV) in four forestry enterprises. The HCV conservation is one of most effective mechanisms of the nature protection. Moreover, the method helps to preserve the forest ecosystems with the FSC forest certification. Each certified forestry enterprise must identify and maintain the HCV. According to the current Belarusian concept the following territories are considered to be the HCV: the Protected Areas, Important Bird Areas, the Emerald Network, other special areas created to preserve the biodiversity concentration locations (HCV -1). For example, the HCV -3 stands for the rare and typical habitats.
The FWG members performed monitoring of eight forestry websites as well as field inspections of compliance with national legislation and FSC in 12 forestries. After observing the work of five forestries we've prepared and handed over our suggestions to the forestries as well as to the audit companies on the ways of improving the forestry operation in accordance with the FSC requirements. The FWG members were directly involved as observers and experts in more than 10 audits. The FSC audit schedule is regularly published on the website brestnatura.org (Brest regional branch of APB).
As a part of the "Practical Look at the Restoration of Peatlands at the National Level: Belarus" project there was drafted a database, which includes 1,625 peatlands with a total area of 363,400 ha. The database includes five sites with the total area of more than 5,000 ha that have the restoration priority by the year 2025.
We've cleaned buildings and got rid of the garbage at 60 illegal berry pickers' camps at the "Almany Mires" and "Stary Žadzien" reserves. The forestry staff and volunteers took part in the action as well.
The Tapila Mire has been added to the BirdLife data base as a new potential Important Bird Area of international importance.
The APB FWG has prepared and handed over to the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus the documents on more than 10 potential sites of the Emerald Network.
In 2020, as a part of the Young Researchers Support Memorial Program named after Siarhiej Abramčuk (1984-2010) the Berezina Biosphere Reserve area (where the road is planned) was inspected, and an addendum to the IAIA (EIA) was prepared.
Independently, as well as with support of the APB Wetland Center, FWG worked on the selection of rare and typical habitats in 10 districts. More than 500 passports and protection commitments for more than 40,000 ha of rare and typical habitats have been prepared and added to the database. At the moment the database contains about 1,000 habitat passports with a total area of more than 60,000 ha.
Within the framework of the "Palessie - Wildlife without Borders" project the scientific substantiation was elaborated for rewetting the "Neraśnia" project territory (2,182.9 ha). The wetland lies within borders of the Milaševičy forestry and "Liaškavičy" woodworking plant lands, at the Lielčycy district of Homiel region.
Five trainings to support caretakers of the Jelnia bog have been organized. The trainings were held on 02/28/2020 with 20 participants, 03/27/2020 with 12 participants, 07/17-18/2020 with 12 participants, 10/2-3/2020 with 15 participants 12/4/2020 with 11 participants. During the trainings, three birds of prey nests were found; one of them was a nest of the white-tailed eagle. Besides there was found the natural location of five protected plant species, two plant species were unknown to be growing in the reserve.
12 teams took part in the Bird Race. In the course of the competition two teams observed as much as 125 bird species within 12 hours.
The APB organized 32 meetings for more than 700 people. The meetings were devoted to the European Hamster, the Speckled Ground Squirrel and the Flying Squirrel, their life, habits and biology. Besides, the survival problem was raised as these rare species are listed in the Red Data Book of Belarus.
The Barysaŭ district branch of the APB organized and held the Birdwatching School and the Birdwatching Academy.
125 people participated in the winter and autumn Photobirding competitions.
In 2020 the APB had 2,169 members, 14 branches and got 115 new volunteers.
Thanks to the MolaMola platform 5,736 Belarusian rubles were raised to preserve the waders and support the Turaŭ Ringing Station activities. The money has already been used to buy a kayak, nets, colour rings, to repair the observation tower. We thank everyone who supported us during the campaign.
The APB has 7,135 Facebook, 6,490 VKontakte, and 972 Twitter followers. The APB's Youtube and Telegram followers' number increased two times in 2020, now the channels have 542 and 700 followers respectively. The Instagram followers (increased by 70%) and Odnoklassniki (increased by 78%) showed a significant growth as well. By the end of 2020, the abovementioned social networks had 8,558 and 1,379 followers respectively. The "Tsiu-tsiu!" Telegram chat has 518 members, and 196 people share their photos with APB at the new "Birds on the film" Telegram-chat.
Within the framework "Palessie - Wildlife without Borders" project, the APB has reissued the guide for caretakers. The new document includes the legislation changes and practical experience knowledge.
A bird was chosen and approved officially as the district symbol by four administrations: Kapyl (the Barn Swallow), Dziaržynsk (the Blue Tit), Dokšycy (the Mute Swan), and Hlybokaje district (the Starling).
The APB is regularly mentioned by the country's largest web portals onliner.by and tut.by as well as by the top newspapers like "Komsomolskaya Pravda" and "Arguments and Facts". Our news headliners were the Bynet headliners as well. The first Belarusian Flying Squirrel video filmed by our organization became one of the RuNet top 14 videos in January 2020. Interesting articles (some of them in English) were published at the OnAir magazine. This magazine is usually offered to the Belavia Airlines passengers. APB fight with E40 Inland Waterway was described in The Guardian (UK). The APB specialist Vitalina Labanava gave an interview to the Argentine radio about possible consequences of E40. An article on the Dzikoje Mire restoration in Biełaviežskaja Pušča has been published on the BirdLife International website. The APB is the partner of this global association of conservation organizations. The news about a Ringed Plover that flew to Cyprus from Turaŭ appeared on the website of our Cypriot Birdlife's partner. The APB was mentioned by the Russian "Radio of Komsomolskaya Pravda", the National Geographic Russia site, "Around the World" magazine.
Within the framework of the "Prypiać, give a high-five!" event the APB together with the "Bahna" non-governmental organization have worked out the 10 routes' map for rafting at the Prypiać river and its streams. At least 50 people took part in the rafting. More than 21,000 people have watched the map.
Кааліцыя грамадcкіх арганізацый, у тым ліку АПБ, выступіла супраць прыняцця ўказа, які дазваляе выбарачна вызваляць арганізацыі, прадпрымальнікаў і грамадзян ад выплаты шкоды, нанесенай навакольнаму асяроддзю. Улады прыслухаліся да нашай аргументацыі і не далі ходу праекту ўказа.
14,404 people took part in the APB traditional annual activities and campaigns.
The APB Žytkavičy branch chairwoman Anastasia Blockaja hold about 150 extracurricular classes – "The Ornithology Alphabet". The classes were organized for the schoolchildren of two Paliessie schools. While playing young students developed their creative thinking and learned about the environmental problems.
In order to support the "Bird of the Year in Belarus" campaign, the publishing house "Narodnaja Asvieta" has issued a book "Bird of the Year in Belarus 2000 – 2020" by Viktar Hardziej. The author tells fascinating and witty stories about the birds of the year. Besides the poems and essays about the birds are illustrated with numerous pictures made by famous Belarusian photographers – Siarhei Zuyonak, Paviel Lyčkoŭski, Paviel Novikaŭ, Uladzimir Bondar, Dzmitry Jakubovič, Mikalaj Varabiej, Mikalaj Hulinski, Siarhiej Carapica.
A lot of local events have been held in Miory district. The local guides, craftsmen and birdwatchers trainings were among the popular events' themes. Totally, within the framework of the "Together for the Community and Nature: Miory District" project 16 events aimed to develop and strengthen the local community and the local citizens' potential were held in Miory. The activities attracted 340 participants.
The Sluck Ecological and Biological Center teachers organized a series of the super-rodents workshops. In order to support the same named APB project in October 2020 the Sluck district hosted an environmental contest "Hamster, Souslik and Flying Squirrel: save the super-rodents!" Totally more than 260 Sluck district students took part in the super-rodents activities.