Since 1993, the Republic of Belarus has been a Party to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and since 2014, a Party to the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The main objective of the Convention and the Nagoya Protocol is the conservation of biological diversity, including animals and plants used in agriculture.
Particular attention is given to local animal breeds that are on the verge of extinction due to the introduction of foreign breeds and the mechanization of agricultural production, but are of genetic value for breeding due to the high level of their resistance to unfavorable environmental factors and immune defense against diseases caused by external pathogens formed as a result of natural selection.
The National Coordination Centre on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit-sharing (ABS NCC), within the framework of the International UNDP-GEF Project “Strengthening of Human Resources, Legal Frameworks and Institutional Capacities to Implement the Nagoya Protocol in the Republic of Belarus” (2018-2019), performed an analysis of the status of local animal breeds in Belarus.
It was found that the Polesskaya horse population bred for several centuries in the territory of Belarusian Polesie has survived, but is on the verge of extinction, as well as the truly Belarusian breed “Belorusskaya draught horse” registered with the State Register in 2020. These horses are not in demand in modern technogenic agricultural production, but in a changing climate the gene pool of local breeds is of a special genetic value, as well as high potential for breeding work to use them in such fields of activity as children’s equestrian sports, hippotherapy, agroecotourism, and etc.
In 2019, ABS NCC employees joined the Initiative Group for the Belarusian Horse Breeds Conservation formed 10 years ago. It consists of professionals from the equestrian and scientific fields: livestock engineers, biologists, and geneticists. The group works on a voluntary basis and represents cooperation of specialists from different sectors ― state, private, and public.
In its renewed composition, the Initiative Group has developed an action plan necessary to achieve the goal of restoring the Polesskaya population and the Belorusskaya draught horse that are on the verge of extinction. The plan has already been launched.