The black stork, cranberry crops and a unique raised bog. Reserve "Dokudovsky": an oasis among peat bogs

The black stork, cranberry crops and a unique raised bog. Reserve "Dokudovsky": an oasis among peat bogs

The smallest wildlife sanctuary in Grodno region and the last large raised bog in Lida district is an outlandish world, where a person rarely steps, except in the season of cranberry harvest. The reserved territory of the republican biological reserve "Dokudovsky" is 630 hectares of the most unique pristine nature.

Lace made from land and water

The boundaries of the reserve were first marked on the map of Lida district by a decree of the Council of Ministers of the BSSR in March, 1990. Its territory then stretched for an area of over ​​1989 hectares, uniting the unique flora and fauna of the Dokudovsky raised bog, and there are very few similar bogs in the country. The reserve was established in order to preserve the natural conditions of growing cranberries, as well as to stabilize the hydrological regime of the raised bog in the peat deposit.

Докудовский_ольга капцевич (4).JPG

The bog massif was a vast complex, which included areas of lowland, transitional and raised bogs. Later, in 2005, the territory of the reserve was transformed: most of it was drained and given for use to the peat enterprise "Lidskoe". The swamp complex now contains its southern part. At the same time, the reserve includes massifs of adjacent swampy and upland forests, which serve as a buffer zone. We go there together with the head of the Lida city and district inspection of natural resources and environmental protection Alexei Gayko.


The unique ecosystem is located in the Neman river basin and is the watershed between the Ditva, Lideika and Narva river systems. It combines areas of a gently elevated water-glacial plain of the Poozero age and a glacial-lake lowland with elevations of 135–140 meters. The villages of Skamenny Bor, Dokudovo and the floodplain of the Lideyka river are situated close to M6 ​​highway (Grodno – Minsk). The vegetation structure of the reserve is dominated by bog and forest-bog complexes.


“The significance of the reserve for Lida district is difficult to overestimate,” Aleksey Gaiko emphasizes. “This is a moisture accumulator, and a maternity ward for lakes, rivers and streams, feeding them from the inexhaustible reserves of swamp waters, and a home for rare animals and birds, a living organism that absorbs the lion's share of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It is not by chance that raised bogs are called "the lungs of Europe". Swamps soften the climate, reduce the severity and likelihood of frosts and droughts.

By the way, many people mistakenly believe that a raised bog is an impenetrable swamp. In fact, this is a unique ecosystem, the significance of which is not understood by everyone and which was significantly reduced by drainage reclamation in the 20th century. The remaining islets of unique marshlands are protected by the state.

алексей гайко.JPG

Like many centuries ago, when the swamp was just forming, the unique ecological system lives by its own laws, rarely letting a person into its world. Only a few can open the veil of secrecy. Among them are the head of the botany department of Yanka Kupala University in Grodno, geobotanist Oleg Sozinov, naturalist from Lida Yuri Kvach, chairman of Grodno branch of the public organization "Protection of birds in Belarus" Dmitry Vinchevsky and other caring people who are working to preserve and restore the hydrological regime of the swamp.


Birch groves, cranberries and cloudberries

A raised bog is a living organism that shelter a variety of living organisms. Its territory is covered with a thick carpet of vegetation, which, with the advent of the new season, “burns” with bright colors. Locals who have studied the web of trails come in season for a valuable vitamin gift - cranberries.


About five years ago, cloudberries were found in the reserve. It’s a miracle, that the royal berry of the northern latitudes settled on Lida land. Unfortunately, the rich harvest of transparent berries (they are also called "marsh amber") has not been big, yet. Scientists agreed: our climate is too mild for a guest, Belarusian swamps cannot be compared with the harsh conditions of the northern taiga swamps, where it feels at ease.

Forest communities on the territory of the reserve are mainly represented by plantations of pine, warty and downy birch. True, the birches do not grow high. The dwarf birches are accompanied by the same low pines. In the vastness of the reserve there are two species of endangered plants included in the Red Book of the Republic of Belarus: small-fruited cranberry and swamp willow, as well as six species of wild, decorative, medicinal, food and other plants that need preventive protection. Blueberries grow in the raised bog, which delights visitors with delicious berries. A very rare European moss, soft sphagnum, was found in the reserve. In August, the swamp takes on a purple color due to the heather. Mossy pine forests adorn the yellow baskets of mountain arnica. In total, 510 plant species are registered in the flora of the reserve


“The territory of the reserve is characterized by mosaic and a variety of ecological systems. It serves as a reserve for many rare and endangered species of plants and animals included in the national and international Red Data Books, as well as a number of rare and typical biotopes for the country.” geobotanist Oleg Sozinov says. “Some plant species typical for the northern part of Belarus and typical for raised bogs, grow here near the southern borders of their distribution. These include marsh myrtle, black crowberry, small-fruited cranberries (which are protected in Belarus). There are also numerous plant species that have food and medicinal value: blueberries, marsh cranberries, lingonberries, blueberries, mountain ash, wild rosemary, heather.”

 IMG_0090 1.jpg

Black stork, gray crane, Siberian winterdamsel

The raised bog of the reserve has become home to representatives of endangered species of fauna. A black stork, a gray crane, and a large bittern have found their home here. The hobby, a predator bird from the falcon family, which lives in the vast territory of Eurasia and in North Africa, also can be found here. Lesser spotted eagles and kestrels can be seen hovering over the area. Several species of duck and wader birds nest here, too.


“In the kingdom of the Red Books there is also a place for rare insects.” Yuri Kvach, says a naturalist from Lida, who has been researching bog ecosystems since the 1980s. “For example, in the reserve you can find Shrenk's bumblebee, a golden ground beetle and violet ground beetle. I personally observed and take photos of Siberian winterdamsel and moorland clouded yellow.”

лютка сибирская_юрий квач (1).JPG

желтушка торфянниковая_юрий квач (3).JPG

In total, there are about 160 species of terrestrial vertebrates in the Dokudovsky reserve, including 30 species of mammals, more than 100 species of birds, 5 species of reptiles and 8 species of amphibians.

Almost all native large ungulates – elk, wild boar, roe deer – were registered within the bog massif and along the periphery. Forest paths lead to the beaver kingdom: the canals of the reserve are in the zone of the swamp massif, the Narva River is inhabited by the beaver, and the water vole and muskrat are found in the floodplain of this river. You can see a squirrel, a European hare. You can see the mountain hare on the outskirts of the swamp.


“Due to the high water content of the territory, a raccoon dog, an American mink, European polecat constantly live here.” The head of the Lida city and district inspection of natural resources and environmental protection Alexey Gaiko says. “Among the predators in the forests of the reserve there are fox, pine marten, weasel. The northern part of the reserve is a stopping place for migratory birds, including those protected in Belarus: little crake, marsh sandpiper, ruff. The aquatic warbler, the rarest songbird in Europe, has survived only in Belarus, Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine.

In total, 6 species of birds, 1 species of mammals, 4 species of insects listed in the Red Book of the Republic of Belarus have been registered within the boundaries of the reserve. The nature conservation value of the reserve, by the way, is determined primarily by the presence of rare and protected species on the nesting site, included in the Red Book of the Republic of Belarus and the List of species of the European protected status.

Докудовский_ольга капцевич (3).JPG

Swan Lake... without swans

Swan Lake is a mirror in the center of the reserve, which belongs to the Lideika river basin. It is located in a vast swamp massif with depths of more than two meters in places. It is surrounded by a network of reclamation canals in the west, by a forest in the south. Perch, roach, bream, crucian carp, tench and other fish are found in the lake. “Why Swan? – I wondered. "Are there many swans?"

озеро Лебединое (1).JPG

“Surprisingly, swans don't live here,” Yuri says. “Perhaps, once they flew, sat on the surface of the water, and since then the name originated.

An island of pristine nature

“The swamp massif plays a significant role in stabilizing the groundwater level and forming a microclimate,” Oleg Sozinov notes. “Violation of the hydrological regime of the raised bog in the adjacent territories may become one of the threats to the existence of the reserve.”

Scientists all over the world are trying to solve the problem for a long time. In 2009, the state design and survey republican unitary enterprise "Belgiproles" developed the project "Restoration of the natural hydrological regime of the Dokudovsky reserve disturbed by peat extraction to prevent peat fires and preserve the biological diversity of the largest raised bog in Grodno region". These works were carried out within the framework of the UNDP-GEF international technical assistance project. To stop the flow of water from the swamp along the border of the existing peat sites and the raised bog, an anti-seepage dam and two hydraulic control structures were erected. The novelty of the project is in attracting all land users of this territory to the solution of environmental problems, including the peat enterprise, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the forestry enterprise, and the local population.


In 2010, the project was completed. As a result, typical marsh and aquatic vegetation began to form in shallow areas. During the migration period, waterbirds stop here for a long time. There are many nesting ducks, common coots, and swans in the swamp. Scientists and conservationists are now trying to speed up bog restoration by sowing sedge in the flooded peatlands. The stabilization of the hydrological regime has a beneficial effect on the number of animals. There are fewer fires after re-waterlogging.

Points of attraction

The specially protected natural area is an excellent base for the development of ecological tourism and scientific practice of young scientists. Tourists can be attracted by the favorable geographical location of the reserve (near the highway, the floodplain of the rivers Ditva, Lideika, Narva and Neman), the tourist village of Dokudovo, a number of agricultural estates in the region and the 10-kilometer green route "Nemanski shlyakh".

Dokudovo is one of the oldest villages in Lida district. In 1955 and 1974, archaeologists discovered remains related to Slavic settlements in the cliff of the right Neman bank on the outskirts of the village. These were a settlement of the XI-XII centuries and a settlement of the VIII-X centuries.

Dokudovo was first mentioned in the manuscripts in 1392, when Prince Koribut-Dmitry demanded from Vitovt to return Lida. In ancient times, this village was the property of various wealthy and influential persons belonging the court of the rulers of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Poland. For 315 years Dokudovo belonged to the Radziwills. At the beginning of the 20th century, Dokudovo was the second largest settlement in Lida district after Belitsa in terms of the number of inhabitants.


The tourist who has come to Dokudovo is lucky. Four hospitable Dokudovo agro-ecological estates will be at his desposal: Dokudovo, Near the Ferry, Near the Narva, Two Storks. Silence and grace, clean air, healthy food, sauna, fishing, local crafts – all this will be offered to you in Dokudovo agro-eco-estates. Tourists and guests will be interested in the Holy Nativity-Theotokos Church, an architectural monument of the retrospective Russian style, built in 1865-1867. A trip on rafts along the Neman, to a juniper grove, to swamps, to the pillboxes of the First World War, to The Struve Geodetic Arc (an object included in the List UNESCO) will be also of great interest. The village has largely retained its authenticity.

агроусадьба У Нарвы.jpgагроусадьба Докудово_ Светлана Огарко.jpg
агроусадьба докудово_юрий огарко.JPGагроусадьба У парома_4.jpgагроусадьба У парома_6.jpg

Оперативные и актуальные новости Гродно и области в нашем Telegram-канале. Подписывайтесь по ссылке!
Редакция газеты «Гродненская правда»