Nature Protection and Environmental
Just like the rest of the world Belarus continually faces ecological challenges arising from human activities.
The national nature management policy is aimed at ensuring ecologically friendly living conditions for citizens, reducing the negative anthropogenic impact on the environment, rational and economical use of natural resources.
The Natural Environment Protection Law of the Republic of Belarus, the new revision of which was adopted in 2002, is the basic domestic legal document regulating nature protection activities in Belarus. Effective are also laws on the protection of cultivated lands, forests, water reservoirs, atmospheric air, flora and fauna.
To reduce the negative anthropogenic impact on natural environment, Belarus has created specially protected wildlife areas which currently include the Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve and four national wildlife parks: Belovezhskaya Pushcha, Braslav Lakes, Pripyat and Naroch National Parks; 99 centrally administered wildlife preserves (936,300 hectares) and 414 locally administered preserves; 337 national natural monuments and 569 local natural monuments. The total area of the specially protected wildlife areas is 1,723,800 hectares, or 8.3% of Belarus’ territory.
Particular objects referred to natural monument are under the state guard. Among the Republic’s natural monuments dominating positions belong to geological ones – predominantly large boulder and their gatherings. They are mainly located on the territory of the Vitebsk, Grodno, and Minsk Regions. Biological natural monuments are mainly presented by age-old trees, groups of threes rare species and park-monuments. Botanical gardens are acknowledged as biological natural monuments.
The struggle against climatic changes is a priority trend of nature protection policy of Belarus. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection is developing the National Climate Programme for 2008-2012 and for the period till 2020.
Belarus attaches great importance to international environmental cooperation. The country continuously maintains contacts with intergovernmental organisations such as United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); World Meteorological Organisation; United Nations Economic Commission for Europe; Global Environment Facility, secretariats of environmental conventions, etc. The Republic of Belarus is a party to three global environmental conventions: Convention on Biological Diversity (1993), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2000), United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (2001). Belarus is a party to more than 20 multilateral environmental international agreements (conventions and protocols).
The most serious current problem for Belarus is overcoming the Chernobyl disaster aftermath. Nearly 46.6 thous. sq. km or 23% of the country’s area appeared in radioactive contamination zone. For comparison: the Ukraine has 5%, Russia – 0.6% of the similar areas. More than 10% of the Republic area was simultaneously polluted by hazardous radioisotopes of strontium-90 and plutonium.