About the Reserve
In accordance with Decree №59-5, dated 24 February 1988, by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Belorussia and the Council of Ministers of the Belorussian SSR, a decision was made to establish Polesye State Ecological Reserve.
In accordance with Decree №485-р, dated 18 July 1988, by the Council of Ministers of the Belorussian SSR, 142.8 thousand hectares of contaminated lands of Bragin, Khoiniki and Narovlya districts, forming Belorussian sector of the 30 km. zone of the Chernobyl NPP, were organized into Polesye State Ecological Reserve.
By Decree №122, dated 10 April 1989, by the Council of Ministers of the Belorussian SSR in view of the special activity conditions, Polesye State Ecological Reserve was renamed into Polesye State Radiation-Ecological Reserve.
In accordance with Decree №334, dated 27 December 1990, by the Council of Ministers of the Belorussian SSR the Reserve was handed over from State Ecology Committee of the Belorussian SSR to State Committee of the Belorussian SSR on the problems of the consequences of the Chernobyl NPP accident.
In accordance with Decree № 190, dated 7 April 1992, by the Council of Ministers of the Belorussian SSR, Gomel Regional Executive Committee (decree №71, dated 3 March, 1993) the contiguous contaminated lands, the population of which had beed resettled, were handed over to the Reserve. As a result, the territory of Polesye State Radiation-Ecological Reserve increased up to 215.5 thousand hectares.
In compliance with Decree №756, dated 29 December 2006, by the President of the Republic of Belarus, the Reserve was put on the list of state organizations, subordinate to the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Belarus.
By Decree №41, dated 21 January 2013, by the President of the Republic of Belarus, the institution “Polesye State Radiation-Ecological Reserve” was reorganized into State Environmental Research Institution “Polesye State Radiation-Ecological Reserve”.
At present the territory of the reserve is 216093 hectares.
Location of Polesye State Radiation-Ecological Reserve
Biogeocenoses of Polesye State Radiation-Ecological Reserve concentrate about one third of radioactive caesium fallout on the territory of Belarus, over 70 per cent of strontium, and 97 per cent of plutonium – major dose-forming elements.
Due to contamination by long-lived transuranium radionuclides, the territory of Polesye State Radiation-Ecological Reserve cannot be returned into economic use in the foreseeable future. With the course of time the soil increases quantity of americium-241 which is an affiliate product of Pu-241 decay (half-life periods of Pu-241 – 14.4 years, Am-241 – 432.2 years). Being an alpha-emitting element, Am-241 is much more penalizing than Pu-241 (beta-emitting element). During 20 years after the accident its activity in soil doubled. It’s the only radionuclide, which will be increasing its concentration in environmental objects up to 2060 approximately.
Pollution of the territory of up to 37000 kBq/sq.m (1000 Ci/sq.km) by cesium-137, 740 kBq/sq.m (20 Ci/sq.km) by strontium-90, and 185 kBq/sq.m (5 Ci/sq.km) by plutonium-238-240 defines high concentration of radionuclides in plants and animals.
Tasks accomplished by Polesye State Radiation-Ecological Reserve:
• implementation of measures to prevent transmission of radionuclides onto adjacent territories;
• control of changes in radiation situation;
• radiation-ecological monitoring of soil, air, flora and fauna;
• radiobiological studies and experimental activities for the purpose of technology development for rehabilitation of lands, contaminated with radionuclides, assessment of radioactive contamination influence on flora and fauna;
• protection of the territory from unauthorized penetration with a view to support natural development of wildlife;
• protection of the territory from wildfires, vermin and forest diseases;
• afforestation of lands, primarily those, prone to water and wind erosion.
Structurally State Environmental Research Institution “Polesye State Radiation-Ecological Reserve” is divided into three sections located on the territories of corresponding regions. More than 700 people are employed at the Reserve.
Polesye State Radiation-Ecological Reserve has all necessary equipment for studying the influence of radiation factor on flora and fauna, and it is accessible to all persons interested.
In terms of geobotanical zoning the reserve is located in the sub-zone of deciduous-pine forests. Forest covered lands amount to 110.4 ha (51.1 % of the territory), among them pine forests make 43.9%, birch forests make 30.7%, black alder forests – 12.4%, oak forests – 6.3%, and the rest make 6.7%.
Major forest types are mossy (23.3%), filices (14.3%), bilberry (14.0%) and heathery (10.3%). Underwood and middle-age plantations are prevailing. Non forest covered lands (mainly former agricultural lands) occupy 82.2 ha (38.0%), non-forest lands – 20.1 ha (9.3%).
Polesye State Radiation-Ecological Reserve may become of significant importance as a reservation of biodiversity of Polesye region and the Republic, which is facilitated by absence of population, termination of agricultural activity and hunting.
Methods of rehabilitation of the radionuclide contaminated territories are being worked out at the reserve. An experimental apiary and a fruit garden are created here. Since 1996 horse breeding has been carried out. There’s a selective body of horse breeds: Russian cart-horse, Soviet cart-horse, Russian trotter. Since 2006 Polesye State Radiation-Ecological Reserve has been put on the list of pedigree economies of the republic. The experience of this work is important in terms of the prospects for horse breeding development in conditions of radioactive contamination of lands.