Rewilding of Naliboksky Forest

  • Country:
    Belarus
  • Start year:
    1994 (Re-introductions of European bison)
  • Location:
    Belarus, Minsk region, Vologin, Iv’e districts, 70 kilometers to the west from Minsk
  • Size (ha):
    88000
  • Area Type:
    Belarus
  • Type of protection:
    wildlife area

In the native habitat of Naliboksky Forest, all representatives of megafauna living in conditions of natural freedom of lowland Eastern Europe are restored. With this, it even surpasses Bialowieza Forest. The forest is considered as the potential territory for the rewilding of cattle and horses.

European bison and wolf captured on camera

Area

  • Habitat types: mixed forest, meadows, mire, small rivers
  • Keystone species present: European bison, red deer, elk, wolf
  • Fauna (mega) species present: roe deer, wild boar, lynx, brown bear
  • Fauna species reintroduced: European bison
  • Vegetation types present: Pine, fir, oak, birch, alder

Scope

  • Description: Naliboksky Forest is the largest wood, mire and meadow complex in the western part of Belarus. Forest covers 80% of the area. The mosaic of habitats, the high fecundity, the excellent shelter, the inaccessibility of the swampy areas, and the dry forested sandy ridges mean that there is an abundance of megafauna species such as European bison (90 ind.), red deer (700 ind.), elk (700 ind.), roe deer (300 ind.), beaver (350 ind.), wolf (50 ind.), lynx (10 ind.), brown bear (4 ind.). <br /> In the territory of the wildlife area hunting is completely forbidden, forestry is limited, on separate sites collecting mushrooms and berries is forbidden. These actions help to reduce conflicts between human and wildlife.<br /> Tourism in the territory concerns photography of wild animals (wood-grouse, red deer, elk, bison).
  • Aim: Restoration of forest ecosystems characteristic for Eastern Europe before their transformation by people and with the maximum presence of key megafauna species.<br /> Development of ecological tourism.<br />
  • Vision: By 2026, the Naliboksky Forest area, with its mosaic of open landscapes, pine and mixed forests, meadows, mire and small rivers, has become one of the most exciting wild areas in Eastern Europe.
  • Accomplished in 10 years from now: Brought back horses and cattle
  • Uniqueness: Absolutely wild population of European bison (exists without human support) developing in close interaction with other herbivores as well as predators, mainly numerous population of wolf.
  • Results so far: Steadily developing populations of herbivores (European bison, red deer, elk, roe deer) and large predators (wolf, lynx)<br /> Eco tourism
  • Flagship species: Bison
  • Other characteristics: Eco tourism, Education

Exchange

  • Inspirational value: The presence of a multitude of megafauna species, both herbivores as well as predators.
  • Experience you would like to share: Experiences on the re-introduction of European bison, experiences on management of populations of red deer and wolf
  • Experience you would like to gain: Experiences on the rewilding of horses and cattle
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