Reserve «Yelnya»


Pilot project “Selected measures towards biodiversity conservation at the protected area Yelnya”


Protected area “Yelnya” is an unique bog ecosystem which provides a sanctuary for many rare and endangered flora and fauna species.

Yelnya covers area of 25,301 ha , located in the north of the Republic of Belarus (Miyory and Sharkaushchyna rayons, Vitebsk Oblast), close to the border of Latvia and Lithuania.

This protected area of national significance was created in 1968, and is constantly enlarging. Since 2002, it was recognized as wetlands of international importance (‘Ramsar list’). Since 2007, it has a status of republican landscape protected area. From 2006, the management unit of the protected area was created, including 3 specialists and financed by local environmental protection funds. The land of the protected area belongs to the state forest enterprise “Disnensky leskhoz”.

Within the protected are, 10 sites with high environmental value are selected; the most important one is the high-rise bog, the biggest in the Europe.   

There are 15 plants species and 24 fauna species living there, included in the Red Book of the Republic of Belarus. Among them are the Dwarf Arctic Birch and the Cloudberry which are unique to Belarus. The area is a vital stop-over for migrating geese and cranes.

In the first half of XX century amelioration works have been done at the territory of the Yelnya. Meliorational canals cause overdrying of the bog which brings about almost annual fires. Although three rivers flow from the bog, there are none actually re-filling it and thus it is solely dependent on rain and ground water.

The management plan “Yelnya” was developed and approved in 2008. In the scope of the GEF Small Grants project implementation, priority activities on restoration of hydrological regime of bogs are completed. A preliminary efficiency assessment of the completed activities shows significant success in water level regulation in the bog. However, there is an evident necessity in establishing a network of tools to monitor water levels and identifing additional activities needed to optimize the hydrological regime of one of the most significant bogs in Europe for biodiversity conservation and climate change prevention.    



The wider objective of the pilot project includes support of biodiversity conservation in the protected area Yelnya by means of capacity building of protected area management, researches and sustainable ecotourism practices.



To achieve the above-mentioned objective are following tasks are proposed:

  • Collection of additional data and development of a new set of activities for the Management Plan, in particular, in the area of hydrology taking into consideration the EC requirements.
  • Assistance in  implementation of priority activities of management plan for the protected area
  • Capacity building of management staff: office premises development, trainings and informational support;
  • Conduction of field research, establishment of the network for surface and groundwater level monitoring,
  • Ecotourism and rural tourism development: establishment of new ecotouristic routes, establishment of the eco-center using experience of ecocentres in Berezinski Zapovednik (Lepel district) and Lebiazhy Reserve (Minsk).


  • The Project will review the Management Plan for protected area “Yelnya” and if necessary bring it in line with EU requirements;
  • The Project will support implementation of some selected activities of Management Plan for protected area “Yelnya”
  • The Project will assist in establishment of eco-center, ecotouristic routes and office premises development
  • The Project will prepare the report on management of hydrological regime in bog Yelnya, based on operational monitoring data
  • The Project should conduct one workshop on best practices of hydrological regime management on the bog.


Reserve “Yelnya” management plan (in Russian) see here.

Reserve “Yelnya” management plan (in English) see here.

The expert report on Reserve “Yelnya” managment plan implementation (in Russian) see here.

Interpretation plan for Yelnia nature reserve, Belarus. Prepared by Barrie Cooper, International Education Manager, RSPB. Version 1: July 2012 see here.