Checkpoint for monitoring the utilization of genetic resources of the Republic of Belarus
30 October 2023

The event brought together the scientists of various profiles and representatives of creative professions who actively use traditional knowledge related to the plant kingdom. In the introductory speech, the workshop organizer, Head of the Department of Folkloristics and Culture of Slavic Peoples, Tatsiana Valodzina, explained the understanding of the term “traditional knowledge”, its role and function in modern society, and also drew attention to the status of persons who have accumulated such knowledge.

Head of the National Coordination Center on Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit-sharing, the Institute of Genetics and Cytology, NAS of Belarus, Elena Makeyeva, raised pressing issues related to the legal regulation of access to traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources.

Research Scientist of the Department of Ethnology, Jana Šaŭčenka, in her informative report “Knowledge of Wild Plants in Contemporary Ethnocultural Processes of Belarus” emphasized the consolidative and representative function of the plant symbol in contemporary Belarus. Siarhei Savchuk, Head of the Flora and Plant Systematics Laboratory, the Institute of Experimental Botany named after V. F. Kuprevich, professionally explained the process of approving knowledge about medicinal plants of the flora of Belarus in a pharmacopoeia. The report raised a number of questions, which once again demonstrated the need for joint projects between humanitarians and botanists.

The second part of the workshop was devoted to the presentation of contemporary youth projects. Yuliya Litvinova spoke about the main directions of the “Ziołka-Pčołka” (Herb-Bee) activity at the taste studio in Volozhyn District; shared the ways of using the knowledge inherited from the older generation in new practices aimed at aesthetic experience. Natalya Yarmalinskaya presented the production of herb and flower tapestry as a specific kind of art therapy. The workshop participants had a chance to see a pattern of this very tasteful and beautiful tapestry the weaving of which also helps relax psychologically. From the speech of Olga Trubach, the listeners got acquainted with the history of the spread of lavender in Belarus and with the main practices of its use.

One of the main slogans of the workshop – “Herbs, Flowers, and the Plant Kingdom can Help Even the Most Demanding Contemporary in Meeting Various Needs.” If knowledge about the plant kingdom is based on the ethno-cultural, mythological component, its potential strengthens significantly. Yulia Shastak’s presentation on the “Legend of Flowers” project was an excellent example of that. Yulia’s poems and a video prepared by Mikhas Orakcheev, dedicated to the folklore history of one of the plants, caused sincere admiration. And this awaits continuation.

Obviously, behind each of the presented projects there is a bright and talented personality when a skill, personal charisma and devotion to the Belarusian folk culture are combined.

The workshop began with a tribute of respect to the true holders of traditional knowledge – those old ladies who have preserved the richest heritage and have generously shared it with us. And at the end of the event, Yury Vnukovich presented the video “Every blade of grass is a healer” based on the trail of folklore and ethnographic expeditions. Julija Litvinava and Aleś Viačorka’s singing created the special atmosphere during the event. Authentic Palesie songs in a highly masterful, insightful performance brought back the past, but at the same time gave hope that the tradition continues.

Contact us