1.4. Main elements and main instruments of implementation

Characteristics and main elements of spatial system in Belarus

The area of the country is 208 thousand km2. The population of Belarus is 9,8 million inhabitants. The capital is the City of Minsk that has a population of 1,766 million inhabitants (01.01.2005). Density of the population is 47 inh./1 km (1.01.2005).
Belarus shares borders with 5 countries, such as Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia and the Ukraine. After enlargement of the European Union the total border with the EU-countries is more than 1000 km.
Two from ten trans-European transport-communication corridors N2 "Paris-Berlin-Warsaw-Minsk-Moscow-Bejgin" and 9B "Odessa-Kiev-Gomel-Minsk-Vilnus-Klaipeda" cross Belarus linking North-South and East -West parts of Europe and give access from Russia all the way to key western European city-regions.
The Republic of Belarus belongs to watershed of the Baltic and the Black Seas. Because of geographical location the country is an integral of the European ecological system with a very rich natural diversity. Forest and natural protected areas account to 36% of the total territory. However, 20% of its territory is contaminated by Chernobyl disaster of 1986. Consequences of this catastrophe has been negatively influencing safety, efficient and competitive land use, human settlement system development on the affected territories.
The territory of the country is divided into 6 regions (oblasts): Brest Region, Vitebsk Region, Gomel Region, Grodno Rregion, Minsk region and Mogilev region. The regions consist of 118 administrative districts (raions). There are also 23 cities regional subordination; 111 towns of districts subordinations; 97 townships (semiurban centers) and 1388 rural councils and 23973 rural settlements. (1.01.2005).
The human settlement network is quite developed and includes 209 urban and more than 24000 rural settlements with density of more than 120 settlements per 1000 km2.

Basic elements of spatial system include:

  • Key human settlements (cities);
  • Main transport communication links;
  • Administrative districts as local settlement systems.

Key cities and main transport-communicational links form a sustainable structure of the National Settlement System (NSS). In addition, national green network and consequences of Chernobyl disaster effect on planning structure formation too.

Figure 3.Spatial arrangement of the Republic of Belarus

Key human settlements

National Plan of Spatial Development of the Republic of Belarus (NPSD) introduces division of urban settlements according to the number of their population:

  • largest cities with population more than 500 thousand inhabitants (City of Minsk);
  • large cities with population 250- 500 thousand inhabitants;
  • big cities with population 100-250 thousand inhabitants;
  • medium-sized - cities with population 20-100 thousand inhabitants;
  • small-sized towns and townships - urban settlements with population less than 20 thousand inhabitants.

According to their importance human settlements of the National Settlement System are divided into:

  • urban settlements of European importance;
  • urban settlements of national importance;
  • urban settlements of regional importance;
  • human settlements of local importance.

Urban settlements of European importance are multifunctional cities with developed industry, social and technical infrastructures and population with more than 500 thousand inhabitants. They play important role in the international development: context, particularly regarding the allocation of international trade and innovative enterprises, as well as international financial and high educational institutions. These cities are to attract the organization of international conferences, exhibitions, etc. The cities of European importance are elements of European planning structure. Minsk City belongs to this group.

Urban settlements of National importance are multi-functional and industrially developed. They are important economic centres where large national trade enterprises, high educational institutions, unique public health service institutions, centres of culture and art, informational-analytical and research organizations are allocated. These cities include 5 centres of regions with population 250-500 thousand inhabitants and other urban settlements with different number of population. They take an important place in trade, culture, education and health care for population from urban and rural areas of the surrounding region. All of them reflect national interests in the process of international integration. Such cities as Brest, Grodno, Vitebsk, Mogilev, Gomel belong to this group.

Urban settlements of Regional importance are industrial cities, centres of administrative districts with population less than 100 thousand inhabitants functioning as administrative, industrial, social cultural, education centres for the population of urban and rural areas in the surrounding region. Urban settlements with different number of population belong to this group. They are not necessarily to be the centres of administrative districts but they play important role in industry, infrastructure provision, trade, have reach historical and cultural heritage at the regional level.

Human settlements of local importance are industrial, cultural, tourist and recreational or nature protection urban (with population less than 20 thousand inhabitants) or rural (agrotown) settlements. They are centres of attraction for adjoining small-sized urban and rural settlements. The urban settlements of this group, having significant economic, social and cultural potential, tend to acquire more active role in settlement system of the republic.

Figure 4. Model of territorial development

Strategies for the development of NSS cities

"Development stimulation" strategy (for Brest, Vitebsk, Baranovitchi, Orsha, Kobrin) The strategy includes the measures for development stimulation of the settlements- "point of growth"/ The strategy proposes realisation of the important state investment project, development of settlements, on the basis of external advantages (advanced transport communication of the European level, linear urban system of the close located to each other big and large cities). Industry orientation on the external market. Service and infrastructure development of the international level.

Figure 5. "Development stimulation" strategy

"Minsk agglomeration" strategy

The strategy includes the measures for Minsk city development regulation: restraint of territorial expansion in suburban areas (by a principle "of an oil stain"), inclusion of average and big size cities if the Minsk region (Molodechno, Borisov, Zhodino) in the policy of Minsk city development (industrial re-structuring and modernization, perfection of public service, realisation of housing policy, infrastructure development)

Figure 6. Minsk agglomeration strategy

"Development regulation" strategy (for Gomel, Retchitsa, Zhlobin, Svetlogorsk)

The strategy involves the measures for the development regulation of the urban settlements, that are nearby the contaminated territories; limiting of the industrial development, transformation of existing enterprises for more effective, ecologically friendly and sustainable production; social infrastructure development (especially medical and sanitarily control); search for development the compact and clean but non-effective applied areas.

Figure 7. "Development regulation" strategy

"Urban environment improvement" strategy (for Grodno, Mogilev, Lida, Pinsk, Polotsk-Novopolotsk, Soligorsk, Bobruisk, Mozyr, Slutsk, Kalinkovitchi)

The strategy includes the measures for urban settlements, which is located outside the core of development. It includes the measures for improvement of urban environment, social infrastructure, and increase of city attractiveness and modernisation of the existing industry, without any large structural changes. It includes the measures for cities improvement promotion as serving centres for surrounding urban and rural areas.

Figure 8. "Urban environment improvement" strategy

Main transport corridors

Main transport corridors are complex of roads, railways and systems of engineering communications.
Trans-European transport corridors (Helsinki corridors) have been set up by the Second Conference of European ministers, responsible for transport development to consolidate European market and to create an adequate integrated transport system for Western and Eastern Europe.
 # 2, direction "West-East" - Paris - Berlin - Warsaw - Minsk -Moscow- N.Novgorod;
 # 9, direction "North-South" - Helsinki - S. Petersburg - Vitebsk - Orsha - Gomel - Kiev - Lubashevka - Kishinev - Bucharest -Alexandrypolis;
 # 9A, direction Gomel - Minsk - Vilnius - Klaipeda.
Other international transport links including transport and communication corridors which are not in the system of trans-European communications but which provide international links for Belarus with Baltic countries, Poland, Ukraine, Russia as well as for these countries to each other. These links are very important for development of base-points in Belarus. These transport links influence on the development of NSS cities.
 South regions of Russia - Brjansk - Gomel - Mozyr - Pinsk - Brest - Warsaw;
 Moscow-Smolensk-Vitebsk - Polotsk - Daugavpils - Riga;
 Warsaw-Belostok - Grodno - Lida - Molodechno - Polotsk - St.Petersburg.

Development of the joint European international trans-European transport corridor #5 Triest-Lubliana - Budapesht-Uzhgorod-Lvov towards Lvov-Rovno-Sarny-Baranovichy is foreseen in the National Plan of Spatial Development of the Republic of Belarus (connection to the 2-nd Cretan corridor and to the direction towards Vilnius through Lida).

National transport communication links connect Minsk City with urban settlements of national importance as well as resort, recreational, historical-cultural territories, transport objects of international and national importance and human settlements one to each other.

Regional transport communication links connect human settlements of national
and regional importance one to each other, as well as with resort, recreational, historical-cultural territories, transport objects of nationa and regional importance, etc.

Figure 9. Trans-European transport

The main directions of the spatial structure of Belarus improvement are:

  • The urban processes concentration on the areas under the influence of the Trans-European corridor No 2, in the large and big cities, which have most developed infrastructure and less spatial conflicts with the natural protected areas.
  • The transport network development at the all levels (transport, telecommunication) for improvement of the spatial accessibility.
  • The engineering communications creation in the integrated transport corridors for effective territorial use.

Green network

Green network is totality of natural areas playing an important role in ecological balance and sustainable development of territories, biodiversity and landscape protection. Special regulations of nature use are established within such areas.

The elements of green network have a hierarchy and they are divided on elements (cores and network) of European, international, national, regional and local level.

Figure 10. Ecological network

Key elements of green network at the European level are:

  • Pripjatskoye Polessje with the Pripjat River's bottomland.
  • Natural areas of Berezinsky biosphere reservation zone.
  • Natural areas of "Belavezskaja Pushcha" National Park.

Key elements of green network at the international level are:

  • The West Dvina River bottomland, Surazhsky forestry, north and central part of Polotskaya lowlands with natural areas of Rossonskaya and Oswejskaya groups of lakes; forest and backwater area of Elnja and Braslav bed.
  • The Neman River bottomland with Nalibokskaja and Grodnenskaja Pushcha.
  • The Dnepr River bottomland.
  • The Vilija River bottomland with natural area of Narochanskaya group of lakes.

Key elements of green network at the national level are:

  • The Berezina River lowlands with Svisloch-Berezina forestry;
  • Minsk Hill with Lagoisk natural area.

Functional division

According to existing particularities, external conditions and potential of the territories as well as planning structure development, at the regional level administrative regions of the republic compose certain group of regions:

  • Urbanized (Minsk region &Regions under the influence of the NSS cities)
  • Agricultural
  • Natural protection
  • Recreational
  • Special

Figure 11. Functional division

Functional units' arrangement establishes the functional type for administrative districts to specify the national priorities and demands (facilities, limits, prohibitions) for territory use and development. It is done for ecological sustainability and efficient development of the economy.

Urbanised regions are established on the large, big and dynamically developing medium -sized NSS cities. Such regions are characterised by high density of the urban population and industry, intensive agricultural production, mobility of the population connected with business activity, social service, recreation and so on.

Minsk region
Minsk region consists of the territories and settlements integrated into the process of development of Minsk City as economic as well as administrative centre. Minsk region includes following zones:

  • zone of intensive development of agglomerative processes - «Big Minsk»;
  • zone of active development of agglomerative processes - within Minsk agglomeration;
  • zone of passive development of agglomerative processes - within Minsk region.

The aim of development points at providing the efficient processes of agglomerating with different intension of territory use considering ecological limitations and potential of development.

Regions under the influence of the NSS cities
Such regions include territories which are in the zones of base-points' influence in the national settlement system. Social and economic potential of urban and rural settlements, perspectives of their development depend on potential and rate of development of a base-point that is a centre. These regions are characterized by active migration of the population related with jobs, social service, recreational activity, distance to residential districts. Agricultural potential has the biggest rate in the regions under the influence of the NSS cities.

The aims of development are:

  • efficient use of existing potential of city-centre;
  • improvement of technological level of industries;
  • enhancement of social infrastructure that meets international standards and rising requirements of the population;
  • environment preservation;
  • efficient use of territorial resources.

Agricultural regions are characterised by agricultural land domination and high rate of the rural population. The main specialization of such regions is agricultural production and processing. Agricultural regions are divided into the regions with high and low agricultural potential:

Agricultural regions with high agricultural potential
These regions are located in western part of the Republic of Belarus beyond zones of base-point's influence. Their agricultural potential's index is not less than 0,96. This index is characterized by high quality of agricultural lands, labor, fixed and current capital.

The aims of development are:

  • efficient use of social, natural and material resources of the territories;
  • intensification of agricultural production.

Agricultural regions with low agricultural potential
These regions are located in eastern part of the Republic of Belarus beyond zones of base-points' influence. Their agricultural potential's index 0,95 and less. This index is characterized by low quality of agricultural lands, labor, fixed and current capital. The main part of these regions are depressive regions with low demographic potential.
The aim of development is creation of the conditions to prevent the processes of desolating of territories and to attract the population and capital to this regions.

Natural regions are characterized by the areas with natural landscape domination. Natural regions form the regions of large natural areas and regions with high tourist-recreation potential.

Regions with large natural complexes
The main functions of the natural regions are biological and landscape protection, recreation, and forestry production. These regions include territories which form the cores of national environmental network. They are characterized by large and unique nature complexes, valuable and rare natural landscapes which are predominant within administrative districts.The aim of development is creation of conditions for preserving valuable natural complexes which are very important in providing ecological balance in the republic and in Europe in general.

Recreational regions have territories with high tourist and recreational potential. These regions have high capacity to organize recuperative activity, sport, cultural, educational and ecological tourism and resorts.
The aim of development is creation of conditions for tourists and recreational activity in these regions.

Special region are characterized by agricultural and forest territories domination that were contaminated by Chernobyl ecological disaster. They have an average density of radioactive contamination of 5 Кu/sq.km and more. According to the legislation these regions include territories with the right for resettling and off-zones.
The aims of development are:

  • creation of conditions for safe functioning of the territories;
  • limitation for the population migration to the territories which are dangerous for the people's health;
  • creation of adequate conditions for the population that made decision to leave these territories.