Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Dossier On Joint Poland - Belarus - Lithuania Augustowski Channel Restoration Project To Be Submitted For Consideration Of UNESCO Experts In May 2006

"Dossier on Augustowski Channel to be submitted for consideration of UNESCO experts in May" Belarus Telegraph Agency April 4, 2006 20:11

http://www.belta.by/en [Belarus Government Official News Agency]



"In the middle of 2005, Poland and Belarus made an agreement for reconstructing the border sector of the Augustowski Channel. By this act, [beginning in] July 2006, the sector of channel from 80 km to 83,4 km will be [restored]. After work, the Channel is to become a trans-border water path for tourism, leading through the territory of North-East Poland, and further through Belarus and Lithuania. The Agreement is to strengthen the cooperation and to develop the proper neighbours’ relations, to reconstruct the Channel to a state of usage, which has a important historic value, to create the conditions for using the landscape values, and to develop the tourism in the regions close to the Channel.

Built in the first part of the XIX century, the Augustowski Channel is a water path, connecting the river Wisla -- through the rivers Narew, Biebrza, Netta, and Czarna Hancza -- with the river Niemen. It is 102 km long (80km in Poland). There are 18 sluices (14 in Poland). Before Second World War, the Augustowski Channel was a great tourism attraction as a path for sailing, kayaking, and for ... passengers vessels. The Channel is today one of the most attractive paths of kayak tourism, and since 1968 is a monument of technical [achievement].

In 2003, the reconstruction of the Augustowski Channel became one of the priority directions of cooperation with Belarus in the field of tourism. A group of international experts was created, who were together working out the documentation and projects of using the object. For the last few years both sides, Polish and Belarusian, with mutual agreement, are campaigning for considering the Augustowski Channel as a unique object of engineering and for putting it on the list of UNESCO [World Heritage Sites]. The group of experts are preparing the common Polish-Belarusian project, which will possibly help to find and gain funds for further reconstruction of the Channel.

On the Belarusian side, the Channel is heavily damaged, on the Polish it is in much better condition, e.g.: due to implementing the EU project “Cultivation and promotion of the Augustowski Channel” a few years ago. The European Union supported the project with 75% from the whole 32 mln PLN (20% came form national budget, the rest from the Augustowski self-government). Under consideration for reconstruction are the whole 3 km of banks, pathsways, and so called “small architecture” -- overhead benches, some lamp-posts, and footbridges. Some streets were rebuilt and a modern building of the Centre of Tourism Information was built. The Polish side will finance the repair (approx. 10 mln PLN) and the building the border point on the Channel, which will be the EU border passage.

Today, on the Belarusian side, there are intensive reconstruction works going on. Belarus financed the project with 10 mln US dollars from national budget. Programme of reconstruction has begun with the drying of the banks of the Channel and ground works of the channel bed. The next step would be to repair the banks of the channel. Work will continue in the upstream direction, in the direction to the river Niemen."

(slightly edited for clarity)



The Augustowski Channel

The historic, 19th century Augustowski Channel is the Polish, Belarusian, and Lithuanian version of America's great Chesapeake and Ohio (C & O) Canal -- offering huge potential for North Central European ecological, historical, and technological tourism once the current Belarus regime allows its citizenry to remove its blinkers and look westward and eastward at the same time.

http://tourgrodno.by/en/channel [Grodno oblast executive committee, 2006]

http://tourgrodno.by/en/ [Tourism and Recuperation in the Grodno oblast]

http://www.nps.gov/choh/ [U.S. National Park Service C & O Canal]

http://tourgrodno.by/photos [Tourism and Recuperation in the Grodno oblast photo gallery -- English version under construction]

http://whc.unesco.org/ [UNESCO World Heritage Sites Home Page]

Photo credit: www.tourgrodno.by and www.avestom.republika.pl With thanks


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