Śviatlana Kul-Sialvierstava. Estate and starostvos inventories as a source of Belarus’ environmental history

Estate and starostvos inventories, made between the sixteenth and the first half of the nineteenth centuries, are of great value for studies of environmental history in Belarus. Landed estates and land use, including information about arable land quality, account for the largest part of the inventories. They give a broad description of forests and hay meadows and outline their boundaries. Both large bodies of water and small streams, springs, lakes and wetlands are described in detail, providing information about fish that used to be caught in the bodies of water on the landed estates.

Particular attention to domestic animals and fowl and general information about wildlife are specific features of fauna descriptions given in the inventories. The largest proportion of such data was recorded in the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries, when hunting was a profitable trade. The inventories are also an essential source of information on place names and the names of bodies of water, all the more so because a majority of the micro-toponyms recorded there are not found in other sources. In general, estate and starostvos inventories are an ample source for studies in Belarus’ environmental history, which still has to be put to good use by researchers.