Red kite and monks fishing. Grodno Pushcha in the new project "GP"

Red kite and monks fishing. Grodno Pushcha in the new project "GP"

Grodno Forest connects the forests of Eastern and Eastern Europe with its green canvas.

It rightfully belongs to the territories that form the "green lungs of Europe".

The landscape reserve of republican significance seems to be divided into two parts by the Neman. One of them stretches along the entire Augustow Canal, the other tends to the Privalka checkpoint practically from the agro-town Gozha itself. In total, the "green powers" of Grodno Forest are more than 20 thousand hectares of area: from west to east it continues its path for 30 kilometers, and from north to south the forest lands occupy an almost 17-kilometer strip.


In terms of area, the reserve is much smaller than the most titled nature conservation area of ​​the Grodno region - the section of Belovezhskaya Pushcha in the Svisloch region. However, Grodno Pushcha is slightly inferior to Belovezhskaya by the number of plant species represented here. Researchers jokingly note: "Grodno Pushcha" - all the diversity of the flora of the country. Within the reserve, for example, representatives of almost all vegetation classes of Belarus grow - 27 out of 29.  


 - In our landscape reserve, all types of pine forests, swamps and meadows of Belarus are represented, and this is a rarity for specially protected areas of the country, said Dmitry Lebedev. the head of the department for the protection and use of lands, mineral resources, biodiversity, specially protected natural areas of the regional committee of natural resources control and protection environment. Precisely in order to preserve the unique landscape, the reserve was created in 2007.


Since the beginning of the 2000s, Grodno Pushcha has united the Sopotskinsky and Gozhsky botanical reserves that existed since 1987, and today it includes the territory of three forestries of the Grodno forestry enterprise - Avgustovsky, Sopotskinsky and Gozhsky.


The territory of the modern reserve first acquired its name long before the twentieth century. The first mention of it by the middle of the 15th century.


- On the left-bank territory of the present reserve "Grodno Pushcha" then there were the possessions of the Kolozhsky monastery, which today everyone knows as the Boris-Gleb church, - says Andrei Vashkevich, head of the department of modern history of the Grodno State Historical and Archaeological Museum. - During the GDL, these territories belonged to the Grand Duke, and few were allowed to carry out any activity on them. Even then the administration of the Pushcha was regulated. The servants of the temple, for example, were allowed to engage in fishing and honey extraction here. It is interesting that the trees on which the special hives were hung were indicated by signs similar to those that we see on the plinth of the Kolozhskaya church. This was done so that the guests of the Pushcha understood who the collected honey belongs to. 


At the end of the 15th century, a separate Ozhsky povet was created on the territory of the modern reserve "Grodno Pushcha". It was also called Perelomsky and until the middle of the 16th century, its possessions extended to the very Prussian border.

The active settlement of these lands began at the end of the 16th century, and from that time on, people gradually mastered the Pushcha forests. Those who were involved in the protection of the Pushcha were called sedges from the Belarusian "sachyts". They made sure that only authorized persons were engaged in economic activities in the Pushcha. Budniki, for example, produced charcoal by burning wood using a special technology. Bortniki were engaged in honey harvesting. There were no apiaries, however, in the usual sense of the word: hives in the form of wooden blocks were hung on tall trees.


“At the end of the 16th century, in connection with the administrative-territorial division of the territory of the modern reserve“ Grodnenskaya Pushcha ”is referred to in some sources as Avgustovskaya Pushcha,” continues Andrey Vashkevich.

As explained Vitaly Humenny, the Grodno zoologist and ethnographer, up to the second half of the 18th century, Perstunskaya, Koptevskaya and Perelomskaya Pushcha also existed here. These forests were called Grodno Forest after the 18th century. Moreover, up to the beginning of the 20th century, its territory included almost all the forests of Grodno region. On the maps of the Russian Empire of the 19th century, for example, only two Pushchas are marked - Belovezhskaya and Grodno. Within the boundaries of the latter were the territories of the modern landscape reserves "Ozyory", "Kotra", and it income almost up to Shchuchin.



Grodno Forest within its present borders is rich not only in the abundance of plant and animal species presented here. On the territory of the reserve near the village of Kadysh, there is the grave of the 1863 rebels.

The surviving elements of the fortification system "Molotov Line" - the 68th Grodno fortified area, which in 1940-1941 was built in the area of ​​the Augustow Canal, remind of the pages of history associated with the Second World War. The first thing that guests of the village of Sonici see, for example, a concrete pillbox, where from June 22 to 24, 1941, soldiers of the machine-gun and artillery battalion and a rifle regiment under the command of Major Timofey Yakovlev bravely held the defense.


By the beginning of the war, the construction of the fortified area was not completed, however, on 22 June 1941, the pillboxes took the blow and fierce battles continued here until 26 June.

In the village of Noviki, just a few kilometers from the borders of the Pushcha, you can learn a lot about the same historical events at the frontier post named after Hero of the Soviet Union Viktor Usov. Numerous guests here today are told how 78 years ago the fighters of the 3rd outpost of the 86th August border detachment took the first blow, about how only about 30 fighters heroically held back the enemy's onslaught for 8 hours. 


The name of Hero of the Soviet Union Viktor Usov was given to the 1st frontier post of the Grodno detachment in May 1958. His memory is honored not only at the outpost. A street in Grodno was named after Viktor Usov, and a museum in honor of the Hero of the Soviet Union was created in the Grodno secondary school No. 3.

During the Great Patriotic War, the forests of Grodno Pushcha suffered greatly not only from fires. In some areas, they were literally cut down and taken out. But on the territory of the Gozhskoye and Avgustovskoye forestries, pine open spaces have survived, where the age of the trees has crossed the 130-year boundary. There are many places on the forest land map drawn in squares where even point felling is prohibited today. This means that more than a century-old forest will tell a lot and will show a lot to more than one generation of researchers.


 Moreover, such a "story" today, as well as decades ago, is not only interesting, but also multifaceted. The forests of Grodno Pushcha occupy more than 90 percent of the reserve area. Dry pine forests prevail here, among which there are areas of birch, spruce, less often aspen and deciduous forests. Linden and ash forests and, of course, native high-aged spruce forests on the slopes along the rivers Chernaya Gancha, Marykha, Shlyamitsa are of particular value. Bog vegetation occupies a relatively small area, however, all types of bogs of the country are found on the territory of the reserve: upland, lowland and transitional.


- In terms of the number of plant species represented here, Grodno Forest is very close to the much more extensive Belovezhskaya Pushcha. This area is a concentrate of biological diversity. From the point of view of ecological tourism, it is very interesting if only because here you don't need to wind hundreds of kilometers to see rare plant species. In addition, some of them, for example, Gmelin's beetroot, floating mulberry, Bohemian lumbago, sand-loving fescue, are found in Belarus only in this territory, says Oleg Sozinov, head of the botany department at Yanka Kupala State University. 


A vast green area on the map of the Grodno region called "Grodno Pushcha" is a habitat for over 800 plant species and about 230 animal species.

The wealth of the bird kingdom is striking. In old pine forests there is the only known nesting place of the rarest bird of prey in Belarus - the red kite. Approximately here the eastern border of distribution of this species passes - further to the east it no longer nests. These beautiful birds are most likely to be seen here from early spring to late summer. Kites are especially fond of hunting in the floodplain of the Neman.

Another rare bird species is found here all year round and much more often than the red kite is the green woodpecker. The easiest way to hear and see him is in the forest with old trees along the Black Gancha River and the Augustow Canal. And in late autumn and winter, when the foliage of the trees does not interfere with observing forest species of birds, in old and swampy forests you can first hear a loud knocking, and then you can see our largest woodpecker - yellow, completely black with a red cap.

Off the coast of the Black Gakyil, chances are great to see a brightly colored kingfisher, which the British rightfully call the "king of fishermen". The birds arrange their nesting holes right in the steep sandy banks of this river.



Today there are several habitats of representatives of the Red Book of Belarus under the protection of the Grodno forestry enterprise. On the territory of the Avgustovsky forestry, frequent guests, for example, gray cranes. It's rare to see their nests. Feathered Red Data Books diligently hide them from prying eyes in swampy places, but during lunch, especially in spring, they are shown to people very often.

-The birds come out into the fields and are visible right from the road, says Albert Boltralik, forester of the Augustow forestry.


The habitats of these birds are also on the territory of the Gozhsky forestry. This part of the Grodno Forest was designated as their home by one more representatives of the Red Data Book - badgers. Watching their "animal life" in the wild is a pleasure available only to the patient lucky. Those who know every forest path and path well and can wait for hours for the appearance of the beast.


But everyone in Grodno Forest can admire the representatives of the fauna that are no longer listed in the Red Book - fallow deer and deer. In the village of Kadysh on the territory of the Augustow forestry there is an open-air cage of 120 hectares. Almost seven dozen graceful individuals live here at a measured pace, which you can watch from a special tower.

- On summer days, animals spend most of their time in the forest. They go out to the open area to eat, but during the rut there are dozens of them,  continues Albert Boltralik.



To fully enjoy the unique nature of these places, it is not enough to spend a day here. Connoisseurs of sketches as if the forest stretching into infinity can stay for the night in the hunting lodge "Kadysh" of the Grodno forestry enterprise. In addition to slender pines, which seem to stretch to the very sky, the crystal-clear Black Gancha River surprises guests.

Even at a depth of several meters, its river bottom can be seen without any effort, and the aquatic inhabitants are at a glance. Almost all along its path, the forest river gurgles only surrounded by pines and in places black alder and birch, as if only a few villages are reflected in a mirror in it. This is the secret of sparkling perfection, which the waters of two more rivers in the territory of the Augustow forestry - Marykha and Shlyamitsy - can boast. The landscapes that frame them are definitely worth seeing, as well as the picturesque border of the natural forest lakes Endrenya and Kavenya, which are hidden among the pine trees just a few kilometers from the Dombrovka lock on the Augustow Canal.


-These lakes are formed by glaciers and are interesting not only for their picturesque nature. They are closed endless lakes, into which no rivers flow and from which they do not flow. In addition, some species of plants, for example, the common shieldwort, are found in the entire Grodno region only along their shores, says Oleg Sozinov.

Once again referring to the phrase "only here" the interlocutor immediately explains one of the reasons for a kind of species uniqueness of the latitudes of Grodno Forest. For centuries, these forests have been a border area, and human intervention in the "ecological course" of her life was minimal.



Continuing the story about the waterways of the Grodno Forest, one cannot but mention the springs on the territory of the Gozhsky forestry. There are several of them within the boundaries of the reserve, and not only local residents have trodden their way to the natural creeks.

“Since 2007, the springs “ Privalka-1 ”  and“ Privalka-2 ”have been included in the state register as water sources on the territory of the landscape reserve“ Grodnenskaya Pushcha ”, says Tereza Belousova from Grodno, who knows a lot about Gozhsky springs. - My grandmother, who was born and raised in this area, spoke about the medicinal properties of water in them. From an early age I remember that this water was called "living", and I spent a lot of time looking for a scientific explanation of this. According to the research results of the Institute of Nature Management of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, the water in them is slightly mineralized and can be used for medicinal purposes.


The spring just two kilometers from the village of Privalka is especially interesting not only because it is surrounded by the main treasure of Pushcha - the forest. Not far from it is a forest landmark - the lowest point of Belarus at 80.3 meters above sea level. It is recognized as a geological natural monument and is located in the Neman river near the village of Privalka.


You can admire the beauty of Grodno Forest not only by planning your trip along forest paths. Part of its territory near the Augustow Canal is covered by several tourist routes at once. To be more precise, 19 such marked routes pass through Grodno Forest today. Among them are cycling, walking, waterways along Marykha and Black Gancha, Augustow Canal. Several ecological paths have been developed, one of which originates in the area of ​​the village of Peschany.


Guests from at least six countries visited Grodno Forest. No, this does not mean at all that we forgot to mention the places of the so-called mass tourist pilgrimage in the territory of the landscape reserve. Approximately thirty-kilometer section of the popular bicycle marathon “Susedzi” runs right through Grodno Forest. And this year alone, more than 700 people from six countries took part in it.


Today the Augustow Canal is one of the most recognizable tourist sites in Belarus. And although it does not enter the boundaries of the Pushcha, it has long been a direction indicator for guests to it. Every year, near the Dombrovka sluice, the festival "Augustow Canal in the Culture of Three Nations" is held here, which brings together original folklore groups, musicians and masters representing their national art. One of the brightest events in the summer calendar of events on the Augustow Canal has long been the Sea Festival, with its “On Anything” swims and swamp football. And last year the Augustow Canal hosted the guests of the festival of national cultures for the first time. The third day of the republican holiday took place here, which is well known far beyond the borders of Belarus.



For Grodno Forest, the Augustow Canal is a kind of southern border and serves as a gateway to endless forest spaces, which endless line of trunks approach the border with Poland and Lithuania.

“Preserving and preserving the local forests was one of our main tasks before they acquired the resounding status of the Grodno Pushcha landscape reserve,” says Vyacheslav Miskevich, who during the formation of the reserve worked as the chief forester of the Grodno forestry enterprise.


In his memory there are several cases of saving many hectares of pine forest. So, in 1980, on the territory of the Avgustovsky forestry, more than ten hectares of forest suffered from pests, which stood practically without needles. The trees were hit by the silkworm. Aviation helped to cope with it: the timber was processed from aircraft. About five years ago, they fought in the same way with a red pine sawfly on the territory of the Gozhsky forestry.

In relation to Grodno, the landscape reserve today is one of the closest places where you can feel yourself alone with nature in a good way. Ask how it is? The Pushcha will tell you, slowly whispering with pine noise and bird overflows, that there is no place for thoughts of the bustle of the city, but all worries and plans dissolve in the air saturated with the scent of tree resin.

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