The Department of Forest Management and Security of State Environmental Research Institution “Polesye State Radiation-Ecological Reserve” develops and carries out a complex of forest-economic, security-regime, fire-protective and forest-protective activities aimed at preventing transfer of radionuclides outside the pollution areas.
Reafforestation, forest planting, fire protection of the territory, prevention of poaching and illegal wood logging, protection of the plantations from phyto and ento-pest, forest exploitation, wild animals record and biotechnical activities for the Polesye population of Europen bisons – these are the objectives for the 16 forest divisions, the security sector, the hunter service, and 3 fire-chemical stations with overall personnel of 410 people.
The lands of the reserve’s forest fund occupy the territory of 216.1 thousand ha, 119.7 thousand ha of which are forest covered. Most of its territory is located in the contamination zone of over 40 Ci/sq.km (60%) and is represented by underwood and middle-aged stands with dominating artificial plantings of pine forest stands. The share of ripe stands in economic sections of main forest-forming breeds doesn’t exceed 4%. The key forest exploitation aimed breed at Polesye State Radiation-Ecological Reserve is pine (43% of forest covered area). Its stands have clean composition, high fullness; there have been no care fellings, which poses high fire risk, besides they are prone to disease and pest. 44% of pine growing areas are appropriate for selective intermediate felling, the rest - only for pathologic observation due to severe radioactive contamination.
The area of silvicultural resources of Polesye State Radiation-Ecological Reserve, where forest cultivation works are planned by forest management, comes to 3.1 thousand ha. Forest cultures are created annually at the areas of over 300 ha with the efforts of the forest divisions, with the share of hard-wooded broad-leaved species of over 30%. Annual transition of forest cultures into the category of valuable tree plantations amounts to 310 ha. These plantations serve as experimental-research objects since they are created with own planting stock, which is produced yearly by conifer seed harvesting - 100 kg., deciduous seed – 120 kg., oak acorn – 2500 kg. Yearly more than 1 ha of nursery forests are laid. In order to reach normative forest cultures density index, aiming to transfer their sections into forest covered lands, 300 ha of lands are added by planting yearly.
In view of the domination of pure pine forest stands over the others, special attention is paid to forest protective activities, such as manufacturing and placing artificial nests and trap logs, consistent forest-pathology monitoring on the area of over 12 thousand ha, aimed at decreasing forest-pathologic condition.
Due to radioactive pollution of the territory, felling is of seasonal type here. Throughout these seasons radiation safety of the personnel, as well as economical and silvicultural expediency of the work, are of higher priority over other aspects of agricultural activity. Forest exploitation in the Reserve is carried out by means of intermediate felling of stands and other fellings. Annual cut down stock is about 10 thousand cubic meters of merchantable wood, compatible with the republic acceptable standard, including industrial wood – 4 thousand cubic meters.
The complex of measures directed to protection of the territory from unauthorized penetration of citizen, transportation, poach fighting, is carried out by the security sector, established in 2002, counting over 20 employees.
The main territory protective measures at Polesye State Radiation-Ecological Reserve are functioning of the check-point system, automobile, aerial, and water patrol.
In order to execute the check-point regime, 11 permanent check-points, located at major roads, are operating.
Automobile patrol is accomplished day and night throughout the territories of three administrative districts, with a common route length of 1265 km. Water raids on river Pripyat and its tributaries allow to control the situation in hard-to-reach territories.
Protection-regime activities on the territory of the reserve are performed in tight cooperation with the employees of the Administration of the Zones of Exclusion and Resettlement of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, police special detachment for protection of the polluted territories of Khoiniki, Bragin, Narovlya District Departments of Internal Affairs, State Inspection Service for Flora and Fauna Protection under the President of the Republic of Belarus, and Gomel Border Group of State Border Guard Troops Committee.
With coming of the fire season, 37 fire-protective observation towers are used for territory monitoring. On-going observation of check-points is carried out by duty-men at 11 of the towers in compliance with the director’s order. Partol members fulfill intermediate visual control of the territory at 26 towers. Aiming to ensure fire-safety, three fire-chemical stations (Babchyn –Khoiniki district, Komaryn –Bragin district and Konotop – Narovlya district) with 63 eployees and 25 units of special machinery are operating round-the-clock. In order to safeguard the forest resources, aerial surveillance is implemented yearly, involving the helicopter from State Aviation Security-Rescue Establishment “Aviation” by the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Belarus.
With the purpose of reducing fire-risky conditions in most fire-prone stands, cleaning and felling of quarter glades, agricultural and fire-fighting roads, with a total area of up to 200 ha, are performed annually; barriers and information boards are being installed; 89 cemeteries, 53 monuments and 96 fire-fighting reservoirs are being handled.
Soil disturbance is performed along fire-protective breaks of different widths (12m to 40m), fire-protective lanes along the roads, around the evicted settlements and cemeteries with a total length of about 1360 Km (over 1.1 thousand ha).
Protection and utilization of the animals, equated to game species and to species registered in the Red Book of the Republic of Belarus, are fulfilled by the hunting service. The significance of this service is increasing year after year, which is determined by strong emphasis of the Government on biodiversity development. The reserve’s Scientific Department for Fauna Ecology is coordinating the hunting service, which has facilitated scientifically-based biotechnical activities in Polesye population of the European bison, as well as keeping quality animal record and performing rabies and epizooty preventive activities. The department’s responsibilities also include monitoring the Polesye micropopulation of European bisons and fulfillment of the action plan in conservation and utilization of European bisons.