Bialowieza forest – save the forest campaign

25 November 2017

Bialowieza Forest in danger!

As most of you will have noticed, Bialowieza Forest has been in the news quite frequently over the last couple of months. The Polish government has sanctioned large scale logging in the forest, claiming this is necessary to protect Bialowieza from an outbreak of Spruce Engraver (Ips typographus). Opponents of the logging claim the Spruce Engraver outbreak is a natural phenomenon which poses no threat to the forest at large. They also suspect the government’s claim of protecting the forest is a thinly disguised cover to initiate commercial timber harvesting in the forest once again.

Since the logging started in earnest last May, state foresters and activists have been battling each other in the forest over the issue. In the meantime, the case was brought before the European Court of Justice. In July it ordered the logging to be halted so the forest would not suffer irreversible damage before the court reached a verdict. This order was ignored by the Polish authorities and the logging continued. Last Monday, the court responded by once more ordering Poland to cease the logging or face a fine of at least €100.000,- per day. 

The Crossbill Guides Foundation has a special connection with the forest. It was here that we first conceived the idea of a series of nature travel guidebooks and the Crossbill Guide on Bialowieza was the second one in the series to hit the stores. 

As such, the Crossbill Guides team has a lot of love for Bialowieza and it is with great sadness that we have followed the news about the forest these last couple of months. Bouke ten Cate, a member of the Crossbill Guides team and on of the authors of the guide to Northeast Poland, visited the forest in July and has witnessed the devastating effect of the logging on the forest first hand. As a team of people with backgrounds in biology and ecology we can not remain neutral in this matter. Even with just a basic understanding of biology and forest ecosystems, it is inevitable to come to the conclusion that the authorities’ pretenses for the logging are false, an opinion which is widely supported by the scientific community across the world. Therefore we would like to voice our support for the activists who are trying everything in their power to protect the forest and the scientists who are incessantly calling on the government to stop the logging.

Now that the European Court of Justice has imposed heavy fines on any further illegal logging in the forest, the tide may be turning. You too can voice your support for the protection of the forest by visiting www.ilovebialowieza.com and signing the petition. Let us hope that the harvesters in Bialowieza will soon be silenced for good so we can enjoy Europe’s last primeval forest for many generations to come!

If you want to know more about the situation in Bialowieza, The Guardian (www.theguardian.com) has an excellent series of articles on the subject. These are all available online, free of charge.

By Bouke ten Cate