There are plans by the polish government for the Iconic Białowieża Forest to be logged in the coming years!
The Białowieża Forest (ca. 1,500 sqkm) is the famous lowland forest in Europe! It is a last large piece of low land forest in Europe! The Białowieża National Park is protected since 1932 and inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979 and extended to include the Belarusian part in 1992. In 2014, as a result of the request of local communities, the Białowieża National Park, scientists and foresters, UNESCO accepted a large extension of the property of 1418.85 km2 with a buffer zone of 1667,08 km2. According to UNESCO description: The area has an exceptionally conservation significance due to the scale of its old growth forests, which include extensive undisturbed areas where natural processes are on-going.
Despite high natural values of the entire Polish part of the Białowieża Forest and ongoing requests to protect the entire forest, majority of the area is still managed by the Polish State Forest Service and what is even worse recently developed annex to the management plan assumes a significant increase of the harvest limit for the next 6 year (until 2021), namely logging of 318,000 qm of wood, which is fivefold more than planned for the entire decade. What is even worse, the new plan foresees logging of 198,900 qm of large-size timber wood, partly in old-growth forests, what is 258 fold more than planned for initial FMP from 2012 to 2021.
According to the Polish State Forest Service the plan to increase of harvest limit is the only way to hamper the on-going bark beetle outbreak and to save spruces not affected by these insects. In opinion of scientists conducting studies in this unique forest, nature conservation organisations and environmentalist, the “anti-bark beetle battle” is nothing more than a pretext to retreat from the previously accepted conservation strategy, and start to gain a substantial income from the forest management in the Białowieża Forest.
According to the scientists Grzegorz Mikusinski & Malgorzata Blicharska: ” This decision is an outcome of a long-term conflict about the fate of this Forest, focused around the debate if it may maintain its value without human intervention. Foresters with support of a large part of local population believe that the Forest requires continuous care in form of silviculture measures that “protect” the forest from unwanted changes like accumulation of dead-wood, lack of regeneration of desired species and presence of dying trees perceived synonymously with dying forest.
On the other hand, environmentalists and scientists focus on the value of the Białowieża Forest’s biodiversity linked to natural processes. For a long time, they have been proposing to cover the whole Polish part of Białowieża Forest with National Park (It’s presently only 16 % of the area). The conflict seemed to be solved three years ago. The Park was not enlarged then, but instead new management plans drastically lowering logging levels in the managed part of the Forest were introduced.”
The European Wilderness Society fully supports the opinion of scientists conducting studies in this unique forest, nature conservation organizations and environmentalist , that the “anti-bark beetle battle” is nothing more than a pretext to retreat from the previously accepted conservation strategy, and start to gain a substantial income from the forest management in the Białowieża Forest.
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