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Ecological question

Swamp People

Morachna is the oldest swamp in Belarus. In the early 1950s, several drainage canals with a total length of about 20 km were dug in the swamp, which drain Morachna to this day. In the northern part of the swamp, the hydrological regime is completely disturbed as a result of peat extraction.

The local residents of the village of Gorodnaya are going cranberry picking. September 19, 2014

For local residents, Morachna is an integral part of life. Everyone will have many stories that connect them to these mysterious marshy places. The swamp has always helped people to feed themselves, thanks to the collection of cranberries. Cranberries were sold, berries were made into jam, compote, mashed with sugar and eaten just like that. In connection with the constant draining of the swamp, not only the number of berries has decreased, but also the population of rare plants and birds has decreased.

Harvesting berries in the Morachna swamp. September 19, 2014

The swamps of Belarus are considered among the largest in Europe, covering 14% of the country’s territory, not including drained swamps. In the face of the impending climate crisis, the preservation of wetlands becomes particularly crucial, as they have the potential to mitigate the consequences of climate change.

Morachna swamp. September 19, 2014. Belarus

However, the conservation of these ecosystems is important not only for the global environment but also for the Belarusian people themselves. The swamps are, in a way, a part of their identity: many Belarusian writers have depicted life on these marshes. One of the iconic literary works, studied by each of us in school, is titled “people on the Marsh” by the writer Ivan Melezh. It’s no coincidence that the Belarusian language has at least 24 words to denote this concept (for swamp).

The realization of this facet of identity leads many Belarusians to truly value the wetlands, striving to preserve them and even establish sustainable tourism in these areas.

Preserving cranberries for the winter. August 7, 2014. Belarus
Chickens are the most popular domestic birds in these parts. You’ll find a rooster confidently crowing on the fence in any village yard. September 19, 2014. Belarus
Rubber boots are the most essential footwear for the swamp people. September 19, 2014. Belarus
An iron jug is attached to the belt, and it’s convenient for the locals to gather berries in it. September 19, 2014. Belarus
Drying berries for the winter. September 19, 2014. Belarus
Left-behind house in the swamp. September 19, 2014. Belarus
Marshland after drainage. August 7, 2014. Belarus
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Nasta Yakavitskaya

Nasta Yakavitskaya is a researcher working with documentary and art photography, video and archive. Nasta was born in Smarhon in Belarus, currently based in Turkey. She studied television directing and ecology. In her projects, Nasta explores the themes of preserving cultural heritage and protecting the environment, the connection between a person and his home.

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