Known as Belavezhskaya Pushcha in Belarus and Ltspkr.png Puszcza Bialowieska in Poland, the Bialowieza Forest is ancient woodland spanning the border amid Belarus and Poland, situated 70 km north from Brest. It happens to be one of the most recent and biggest surviving portions of the vast ancient forest which previously extended across the whole of European Plain.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve stands partly in the Brest voblast and Hrodna Voblast in Belarus and close to the town of Bialowieza in the Podlaskie Voivodeship at 62 km south-east of Bialystok and 190 km north-east of Warsaw in Poland.
The boundary between Belarus and Poland runs all the way through the Bialowieza Forest and it has been kept closed for big animals as well as tourists for the moment. The forest conserves 800 wisents (European bison), Europe’s bulkiest land animals. The security enclosure maintains the physical as well as genetic separation among wisent herds.
Bialowieza Forest – History
It was first time in 1538 that the area was officially brought under the protection of forest as King Sigismund I the Old issued a document which declared execution penalty for poaching a wisent. King Sigismund also set up a new wooden hunting manor in Bialowieza, which eventually became the individual expression for the whole forest.
The forest was announced as a hunting reserve in the year 1541 for the conservation of wisent. Post the Polish-Soviet War in the year 1921 the central part of Puszcza Bialowieska was announced as a National Reserve. The count of wisents faced a marked descent. Later, in 1932 major part of the forest was stated as a National Park.
The reintroduction of the protection of wisents proved successful after its declaration as a National Park and in the year 1939 the number grew to 16 wisents in Bialowieza Forest. The Reserve was included into the World Heritage List in the year 1992 and internationally acknowledged as a Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme in the year 1993.
On the Belarusian side the Bialowieza Forest spreads across 1,771 sq km; the central area occupies 157 sq km; the buffer zone occupies 714 sq km; and the evolution zone occupies 900 sq km. The National Park and World Heritage Site together comprise an area of 876 sq km. The Belavezhskaya Pushcha center of operations located at Kamieniuki, Belarus, has good laboratory facilities as well as a zoo where you may find wild inhabitants like wisent, konik, wild boar, elk, and other native animals within the enclosures of their natural environment. You can also find a small museum, snack bar, restaurant, and hotel facilities.
On the Polish territory, in the Bialowieza Forest, the territory is in part protected as Bialowieza National Park, with common area of around 100 sq km. There is the Bialowieska Glade, a building complex at first constructed for the Russian tsars, who are considered to have been the last private proprietors of the forest from 1888 to 1917, when the entire forest was inside the Russian Empire. The Glade has a hotel, restaurant as well as parking areas. The village of Bialowieza lies in the forest.
How to reach Bialowieza Forest
Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport is the international airport in Warsaw.
The Polish State Railways offer train services from Warsaw via Bialystok. The train, running every two hours, will take you two and a half hours to reach the site. You can also board a train to Hajnówka which is nearer to the Bialowieza Forest, but these trains are relatively slower and less regular.
If you are driving on your own you can easily reach the site there by car from Warsaw via Bialystok.
You can avail of the bus services from Bialystok and Hajnówka to Bialowieza.