MINSK, 20 April (BelTA) – Over 50% of ecosystems in Belarus have preserved in natural state, Vitaly Korenchuk, a consultant with the Biological Diversity Department at the Belarusian Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Ministry, said during the news conference on preservation of natural ecosystems, biological and landscape diversity in Belarus and on the international technical assistance project “Ecotourism development to promote green transition to inclusive and sustainable growth”on 20 April, BelTA has learned.
“Ecosystems that represent forests, wetlands, grasslands, rivers, and lakes, occupy around 12 million hectares, which makes up about 58% of the territory of Belarus. They have preserved well – more than 50% of them have preserved in natural state,” Vitaly Korenchuk said.
According to him, protected areas offer great prospects for ecotourism development. “There are 1,407 protected areas in Belarus, including one nature reserve, four national parks, 99 sanctuaries of national importance, 282 sanctuaries of regional importance, and more than 800 monuments of nature. They occupy a total of 1,879,100 hectares, or 9% of the country's territory,” Vitaly Korenchuk noted. “In line with the national strategy to develop the system of specially protected areas, this figure should stand at 8.8% of the country's territory, which means that this target was exceeded. Work in this field will continue,” he added.
Specially protected areas help ensure balance of nature, preserve the gene pool, and act as natural habitats of animal and plant species. Such territories are home to more than 80% of rare and endangered species of wild plants and around 90% of rare wild animal species.
“The national strategy lists 39 sites that are promising for ecotourism,” Vitaly Korenchuk said. “We have mapped out 45 nature trails and 144 green routes to spur the development of ecotourism, including 62 green routes and over 20 nature trails in four national parks and the Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve,” he added.
These areas still have untapped potential, Vitaly Korenchuk noted. Belarus lacks qualified specialists who know foreign languages and can create and promote tourist products. This issue can be solved with the help of training courses and seminars, he believes.
The Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Ministry intends to set up an environmental network in Belarus and integrate it in the European network. Plans are also in place to restore degraded ecosystems, especially grasslands and wetlands, and encourage more tourists to visit specially protected areas.