Country programme Belarus
Building the capacity of our partners is fundamental to the way we hope to achieve bird conservation worldwide.
Having provided financial and technical support to the BirdLife Partner organisation APB for the last decade, it is now the leading NGO in the country. As the organisation itself has matured and become stable in terms of membership, office structures and relationship with the Government, it has started work on new and exciting issues such as climate and biodiversity.
The RSPB is part of BirdLife International, a federation of national organisations with a focus on birds and nature conservation. Within BirdLife International, longer established organisations, especially the RSPB, aim to support younger and smaller organisations in other countries. Building the capacity of our partners is fundamental to the way we hope to achieve bird conservation worldwide.
The fact that APB is the national BirdLife International partner means it plays a clear and important role on the international stage, including through the transfer of best practice in NGO development techniques to other CIS countries.
- Build a strong and effective BirdLife Partner organisation in Belarus which is positioned to outlast any political changes which may happen in the country over the next five or so years. Transition to market economy and subsequent criminal privatisation of all national assets - as has happened in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
- Identify and protect Important Bird Areas in Belarus and engage in the restoration of the key ecosystem in the country ie peatlands, by creating a sustainable long-term funding mechanism.
- Save globally threatened species like the aquatic warbler (60 per cent of world population) and the great spotted eagle, by habitat management.
The flagship project for APB is the Climate and Biodiversity Project which will demonstrate the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and enhance biodiversity through the restoration of large areas of currently degraded peatland in Belarus.
- Major GHG emission reductions will be achieved through the re-wetting of degraded peatlands in Belarus. These reductions will be accurately quantified during the project. At present, it is expected that 100 square kilometres of peatland will be re-wetted between 2009 and 2011. This will lead to a carbon saving of a least 250,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents over the same period.
- Preparations will be completed for the continued restoration of degraded peatland after the project. The short-term target for re-wetting in Belarus is 2600 square kilometres and the total area of peatland capable of restoration there is approximately 5200 square kilometres.
- Characteristic wetland species will increase substantially - for example, the globally threatened aquatic warbler (acrocephalus paludicola) and greater spotted eagle (aquila clanga).
Ten years after its creation, APB (Akhova Ptushak Batskaushchyny) as a member of the global BirdLife International partnership, is arguably the most effective and stable of all NGOs in Belarus, as well as the most reliable collaborator on projects with UNDP and GEF, and is trusted by the Government.
APB is a membership-based organisation with almost 2,000 members and is the largest, most successful and most professional nature conservation NGO in Belarus. It has a national structure with 12 district and regional branches in all six regions of Belarus.
Over the last three years, APB has engaged in many high-profile projects and has a 100 per cent success rate in the implementation of these projects. The projects include the following:
- Implementation of urgent conservation actions in fen mires in Belarus. (2002-2006; funded by UNDP, RSPB, Michael Otto Foundation, Darwin Initiative, Ministry of Environment of Belarus).
- Identification and description of new potential Important Bird Areas in Belarus. (2002-2007, funded by RSPB).
- GEF PDF B project Conservation of globally significant biodiversity in the Pripyat river floodplain and on adjacent territories through wetland management and protection of key sites. (UNDP/GEF Polesie project, 2004-2005)
- Mapping of High Conservation Value Forests. (Funded by the Aage V. Jenson Charity Foundation and implemented by APB, Forest Task Force of BirdLife International, BirdLife Finland, OTOP, 2--5-2006).
- Building on EU experience in networking local communities and administrations in important conservation areas in Belarus. (2005-2006, funded by EU, RSPB).
- Development of regional groups of APB. (2004-2006; joint project with SOF, BirdLife partner in Sweden; donors SIDA and SOF).
- Enabling APB-BirdLife Belarus to play an active role in the process of harmonisation of national conservation legislation with standards set out by international conventions and EU directives. (2004-2005, funded by EC, RSPB).
APB's most significant roles are to encourage the sustainable use of natural resources in Belarus, provide technical and advisory support to public authorities and carry out public relations and educational work. The two key ongoing projects are:
- EC TACIS Environmental Education and Education Centres Project.
- BMU Climate Change and Biodiversity Project (Restoring peatlands and applying concepts for sustainable management in Belarus).
APB's work on large-scale practical conservation and restoration projects is in close cooperation with the RSPB.
These Projects are supported by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of Belarus, as well as scientists from the national Academy of Sciences. In addition, the projects involve local authorities and local companies in the practical re-wetting work, and will involve local communities in the management of the re-wetted peatlands.
The National Union APB-BirdLife Belarus, APB Secretariat, PO Box 306, Minsk, 220050 Belarus
Tel/fax +375 17 263 06 13/01 30
Co-financing by RSPB and a range of project funders (EC, UNDP, bilateral etc)