The Białowieża forest

The Białowieża forest is an immense range of primary forest on the border between Poland and Belarus. It covers an area of 141,885 hectares. Situated on the watershed of the Baltic Sea and Black Sea, this forest is exceptional for the opportunities it offers for biodiversity conservation: includes a complex of lowland forests that are characteristics of the Central European mixed forests terrestrial ecoregion. Oak trees as high as 150 feet that have grown for 450 years could be reduced to stumps under the planned threefold increase in tree fells. This permitted a rich wildlife of which 59 mammal species, over 250 bird, 13 amphibian, 7 reptile and over 12,000 invertebrate species: from the european bison to a high diversity of fungi and saproxylic invertebrates.

Thanks to several ages of protection the forest had survived in its natural state to this day. This is the reason why Bialowieza National Park was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979 and extended to include Belovezhskaya Pushcha, Belarus, in 1992.

This property include extensive undisturbed areas where natural processes are on-going. It is Europe’s last primeval forest. facing what campaigners call its last stand as loggers prepare to start clear-cutting trees, following the dismissal of dozens of scientists and conservation experts opposed to the plan.

Now this area is expected to shrink further if goes through the executive floor polish decided by Poland. Officially, the reason for razing 188,000 cubic meters of plants is an attempt to “reverse loss of forests”, but behind this statement of the Ministry lies a much more practical reason.

We are calling on the European Commission to take action before the Polish Government allows the irreversible destruction of the forest,” said Greenpeace Poland activist Katarzyna Jagiełło. “The minister does not understand that this insect is a frequent and natural visitor, that it has always existed and the forest has managed to survive,” Jagiełło said.

Client Earth, another ngos, also raised his concerns: “The decision to multiply the deforestation is not compatible with Community law, as it is not preceded by an environmental impact on the species and the protected sites,” said lawyer Agata Szafraniuk.
This is why “an appeal to the European Court becomes increasingly likely”.

Last month, seven groups – including Greenpeace Poland and the Polish branch of WWF – lodged a complaint with the European commission over the logging.

Despite protests, Poland started logging primeval Białowieża forest. The wood taken from the Bialowieza forest is used for local heating and building, as well as paper and MDF manufacturing. A small amount of logging is sustainable, say ecologists, but only if the more natural parts of the forest outside the national park are better protected than now. “We need to halt this [bark beetle] disease in its tracks,” said Poland’s environment minister Jan Szyszko. “We need to ensure that there is a healthy logging of trees, something that is planned. We only want to fell an area of 188,000 cubic metres. We want to protect priority habitats for the EU. We are trying to improve and correct the situation.”


According to environmental campaigners, the action of chopping all the trees will destroy an ecosystem unspoiled for more than 10,000 years.

EU environment spokeswoman Iris Petsa said at the time that the commission was “concerned” about the project.

Also Unesco has been involved in the problem. Luc Bas, director of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said that the organisation received “a lot of worrying information” about logging activity in Białowieża. Therefore a delegation is due to visit Białowieża between 4 and 8 June to assess the situation. “The IUCN is planning a mission to Białowieża next month to assess the situation and the effect of the new logging plans on the World Heritage site. We would advise that, as a precautionary approach, logging should not be proceeding in the Białowieża forest until there has been an assessment of its implications for its world heritage status,” he said.

C.Alessandro Mauceri

C. Alessandro Mauceri
C. Alessandro Mauceri
Since thirty years C.Alessandro Mauceri deals, writes and talks about issues related to the environment and a sustainable development, as well as internationalization. He is author of several books, including Water War and Finta Democracy. His research and papers were reported in several newspapers, in Italy and abroad.Posts

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