Europe’s oldest forest is facing a renewed threat, after the Polish government confirmed that it will continue with illegal plans to massively increase logging in the World Heritage site despite protests from the European Commission and UNESCO.
The Polish Minister for the Environment is ignoring scientific evidence and appeals from conservation experts. This includes advice from Polish and international universities, all of which agree that increased logging would devastate this delicate ecosystem. Minister Szyszko, however, maintains that logging is the only solution to a bark beetle outbreak, which this year is more severe than usual.
ClientEarth lawyer, Agata Szafraniuk said: “Cutting more Białowieża trees is not just unscientific and unpopular. It’s also illegal. The forest is protected by EU conservation laws, meaning the government would have to assess how the increased logging would affect this unique natural site.
It has not done this and that’s why we lodged a complaint to the European Commission which led to the infringement procedure against Polish government in June 2016.”
UNESCO and scientists have repeatedly shown that bark beetle is one of the vital elements shaping the forest ecosystem, and that dead wood can be more important than a living tree as it is home to many rare and precious species, like the three-toed woodpecker.
Białowieża’s world heritage status – the only such site in Poland – could also be withdrawn, as happened in Germany and Oman.
Polish people are also strongly opposed to more logging in this priceless forest – already more than 160,000 people have signed a petition to urge the government to withdraw from the decision to increase logging in the Białowieża Forest.