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Bialowieza Forest

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Bialowieza Forest, also known as Belovezhskaya Pushcha, is a ancient virginal forest reserve stradling the border between Belarus and Poland. This UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve can be found in south-west Belarus in parts of the Brestskaya Voblast (Kamenetsky and Pruzhansky Districts) and Hrodzyenskaya Voblast (Svisloch District) in Belarus and in the Bialostockie administrative region (62km south-east of Bialystok and 190km north-east of Warsaw) in Bialowieza Poland. The Bialowieza National Park consists of over 10,000 ha on the Polish side. On the Belarusian side the Biosphere Reserve contains 177,100 ha; the core area 15,700 ha; the buffer zone 71,400 ha; and transition zone 90,000 ha with the National Park and World Heritage Site comprising 87,607 ha.

The Belovezhskaya Pushcha headquarters at Kamieniuki, Belarus include laboratory facilities, a zoo where bison (reintroduced into the park in 1929), tarpan (a wild forest horse species), wild boar, elk, and other indigenous animals may be viewed in their natural habitat, as well as a small interpretive museum, restaurant, snack bar and hotel facilities which were built during the Soviet era and are currently in a state of disrepair. Due to the lack of facilities and internal tourist regulations (special registration in Brest, Belarus is needed in the Ministry of the Interior OVIR office or Intourist hotel) few foreign tourists visit the Belarusian Pushcha annually.

On the Polish side the park is known as Bialowieski National Park. There, one finds the Bialowieska Glade, originally built for the Czars of Russia -- the last private owners of the Forest (from 1888 to 1917) when the whole forest was within the Russian Empire. The Glade is equipped with a hotel, restaurant and parking areas. Guided tours into the strictly controlled areas of the park can be arranged by horse drawn carriage. Approximately 100,000 tourists visit the Polish part of the Forest annually.

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