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Zvanec Fen Mire

Photo — www.ikobrin.byPhoto — www.ikobrin.by

Location: Brest Region, Drahichyn, Kobrin Districts

Coordinates:  52°05 N 24°50 E

Area: 15,873 ha

National Conservation Status:A national biological zakaznik Zvanec with a total area of 10,460 ha was established in 1996.

International Conservation Status:An IBA was established in 1998 (code BY016, criteria A1, B2, B3). The site is a Ramsar site (criteria 1a, 2a).

Zvanec fen mire is located in the interfluve of the Dnjapro-Buh Canal and its tributaries: Belaaziorsk and Arehava Canals. In the south and north-west the site is surrounded by drainage systems.

Zvanec mire is Europe’s largest mesotrophic fen mire with numerous mineral islands. Open fen mires dominate by area (70.2%). Mineral islands of various size (0.2 –10 ha) are scattered across the mire. Forests and shrubs cover 16.2% of the area of the IBA. Comparison of aerial photos from the 1950s and the 1990s shows the shrinkage of the open fen area and the encroachment of shrubs and forests.

Due to its considerable size and situation on the divide of two river basins (the Prypjac and the Buh), the mire acts as a steady-state ecosystem, relatively unsusceptible to changes in the surrounding environment. The main recharge source is underground water; atmospheric recharge is significant only in autumn and spring. The water level in the mire fluctuates from +0.5 to –0.5 m. The hydrological regime of the mire is impacted by the adjoining drainage systems and canals. The use of the surrounding drained areas defines the groundwater table regime in the mire. This situation very often results in either floods or droughts with subsequent severe fires damaging the biodiversity of the IBA.

Zvanec mire is the most important IBA in Belarus, supporting over 1/3 of the world population of globally threatened Aquatic WarblerAcrocephalus paludicola. The site is internationally significant because it supports one of the large populations of the globally threatened Corncrake Crex crex, and Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga. The site hosts more than 1% of the European populations of Bittern Botaurus stellaris, and Water Rail Rallus aquaticus. The site is of national importance for the conservation of Common Crane Grus grus, Snipe Gallinago gallinago, and Curlew Numenius arquata. A total of 110 bird species breed on the mire, of which 21 are listed in the National Red Data Book.

A walk through the mire in spring, from one mineral island to another, is indeed an unforgettable experience, astonishing by the extent of the mire, magnificent views, and a very special atmosphere of a flowering orchids and other plants. In late summer-autumn Zvanec mire does not lose its significance for birds. It is a place of congregations of Cranes Grus grus and an important stop-over site for migrating birds of prey. A definetly «must-visit» site for any birdwatcher visiting Belarus.

67 upper vascular plant species requiring various protection are found at the IBA, including 23 listed in the National Red Data Book. Most of these plants occur on the mineral islands, which are unique islands of outstanding flora diversity amid the vast uniform wetland. The mire hosts 10 vegetation communities rare for Europe and Belarus which were once widely spread across Polesie.