The site is Belarus' largest complex of bogs and transition mires with numerous lakes bringing uniqueness to the monotonous mire landscape.
A total of 98 bird species have been recorded, including 23 National Red Data Book species. Yelnia hosts scattered colonies of waders and numerous gull colonies, the latter found mainly on lakes. It is also a breeding ground for several typical bog species rare in Belarus, such as Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica, Willow Grouse Lagopus lagopus, Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus, Jack Snipe Lymnocryptes minimus and Greenshank Tringa nebularia. Yelnia is also an important stop-over ground for migrating geese and cranes in spring and autumn.
Non-bird biodiversity: 11 plant species growing on the mire and mineral islands are listed in the National Red Data Book. One can encounter Dwarf Birch Betula nana and Cloudberry Rubus chamaemorus.7 amphibian species, 5 reptile, and 31 mammal species are found. Most mammals occur along the periphery of the mire and visit the mire in search for food. There is a high abundance of Adder Vipera berus.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Declining groundwater table due to canal construction, river canalization and drainage of the peripheral mire tracts. The disrupted hydrological regime brings about large regular fires, changes in the flora composition, and overgrowth of the open mires with shrubs and trees.Burning of vegetation and fires Fires and declining groundwater table affect many breeding and migrating bird species. Fires shrink the area of typical mire habitats; and the destruction of cranberries limits the feeding base of many birds. Disturbance. Visits of hunters and fishermen have become more frequent in recent years. This has resulted in the destruction of nests of several birds listed in the National Red Data Book, and the loss of the mire's international importance as a concentration ground for migrating geese and cranes. The lower groundwater table makes the mire more accessible to people in spring, resulting in higher disturbance. Unregulated collection of cranberries leads to serious damage to the soil cover and disturbs animals.
National Conservation Status: A national hydrological zakaznik was established in 1968. In 1981 the borders of the zakaznik were revised. International Conservation Status: An IBA was established in 1998 (code BY002, criteria À4, Â1, Â2).Ramsar site (criterion 1, 3, 5, 6).
Habitat and land use
Small islands covered by small-leafed and spruce forests are scattered across the complex. Most of the mire has been overgrown by low pine stands. However, relatively large open spaces with numerous small lakes and open pieces of water are also quite common. The wetland vegetation is typical of bogs and is represented by pine-shrub-Sphagnum and shrub-Sphagnum communities.The difficult access and specific landscape of the mire - about 60% of forests are swampy and low-production - means that the site is not used greatly by people. Forestry occurs mainly along the periphery of the site and on the mineral islands. There is almost no agricultural use. The site is used for commercial and domestic collection of mushrooms and berries. Amateur fishing occurs on lakes of the complex.
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Balota Jel'nia. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 02/04/2023.