Karytsenskaye Marsh Wildlife Reserve

Apart from Karytsenskaye Marsh, the reserve's administration is also responsible for the management of the local biodiversity reserve Surmina.
Karytsenskaye March is a national hydrological reserve located in Haradok District of Vitsebsk Voblast. It was originally established in 1981 and its status was reconfirmed in 2007. The reserve ensures conservation of valuable raised bogs and forests that provide habitats for multiple species of wild plants and animals included in the Red Book of Belarus. Some of the most valuable plant species include Fen Berry (Rubus Chamaemorus) and small-fruited cranberry (Ocycoccus microcaurpus).
The Reserve's territory includes two large raised bogs - Karytsenskaye and Chystik-1, with a total area of 1401.7 Hectares.
The massive peat layers in these bogs stabilise the water table in Lake Chystik and the surrounding wetland areas, and in the nearby rivers (Hromats, Rabinka, Kabishanka, tributaries of the River Luzhasnyanka, flowing into the Zakhodnyaya Dzvina).
The national hydrological reserve belongs to Eastern Europe's Eurasian Taiga area of the Valday-Onega province. Plant cover is dominated by forests, which occupy around 1306.2 hectares, or 93.2% of the Reserve's territory. The prevailing tree species are pine (71.1%), birch (16.6%), spruce (8.8%), and European alder. The plant cover has a well developed shrub layer, represented by wild rosemary (Ledum), sweet gale (Myrica Gale), Heather (Calluna gen,), Mud Sedge (Carex Minosa), Cotton Glass (Erioforum), and White Beak Sedge (Rhynchospora).
Around 210 vascular plant species have been recorded during recent biodiversity surveys.
Large cranberry fields are found in the Northern part of the reserve, surrounded by bilberry brakes around the periphery.
Harvesting of wild-growing berries and mushrooms is a traditional pastime and occupation for many local residents. Most of this activity takes place in the open or sparsely forested areas of the raised bog.
Visitors are free to use the observation tower in the Northwest of the reserve for bird and wildlife watching. Work has been in progress from 2011 to create an ecological trail with a length of 5 - 6 kilometres. The trail will link together the newly built recreational areas, the observation tower and the boardwalk across the raised bog terminating at Lake Chystik. Signboards and displays have already been installed along the length of the would-be trail with the purpose of educating the visitors and local residents.

Surmina wildlife area

The local biodiversity reserve Surmina was established in 2007, and occupies an area of 2245 Hectares.
Its plant cover mostly includes forests dominated by pine, spruce and black alder. Forests cover 66.9 Hectares of the total area. The reserve has 14 designated areas of valuable forest. These include old-growth pine and spruce forests with trees aged 65 - 160 years, and some reaching 180 - 200 years of age.
There are as many as 51 vascular species and 11 plant species included in the Red Book of Belarus.  Several of these species are classified as extremely rare, including Bog Orchid, Boreal Bog Sedge, and Few-Flowered Sedge. Other rare plant species include Downy Willow, Dwarf Birch, Marsh Helleborine, Alpine Bulrush. The reserve's forests and bogs have abundant and varied berry fields, with large reserves of bluberries, bilberries, and foxberries.
The fauna is represented by species such as the elk, the wild pig, the Arctic hare, the European hare, the fox, the squirrel. The fauna includes three Red Book species - brown bear, lynx, and badger.
There are a total of 15 fish species, nine amphibian species, five species of reptiles and 119 bird species, including 111 species nesting in the area. The most numerous bird species are the typical inhabitants of European deciduous forests, including the song thrush, chiffchaff, tree pipit, and chaffinch. A significant proportion of spruces creates attracts bird species typical of coniferous forests, such as the capercaiile, hazel grouse, black woodpecker, woodpecker, parrot crossbill, red-breasted flycatcher, and golden-crested kinglet. Capercaiile courting grounds are found in several places around the reserve. There are also significant population of other hunted bird species, such as heathcock, hazel grouse, and woodcock.
The mallard duck is the most common aquatic species nesting in the area. The less common nesting species include the great-crested grebe, the common coot, the common teal, and the garganey teal. The common merganser is one of the most remarkable Red Book birds nesting in the Reserve.
Altogether, there are as many as 16 bird species listed in the Red Book of Belarus, such as the black-throated loon, the white-tailed eagle, the snake eagle, the eagle own, the common crane, and the Eurasian Curlew.
The area has a hiking, boating tourist trail, and one mixed route. The tourist routes are equipped with gazebos, and picnic areas. The trails also have displays and area maps. The most popular boating route is 20 to 25 kilometres in length.
Historical heritage sites include a memorial plaque on the former boarding school, the location of the First Baltic Front Headquarters during World War 2.

Other articles