Support the Stop E40 campaign now

The E40 waterway would connect the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea over a length of more than 2 000 km across multiple European countries. It passes through more than 70 valuable natural areas of Poland, Belarus and Ukraine. Here, it provides a habitat for rare species of birds and other animals, floodplain forests and other valuable plant communities. Flat bogs, raised bogs and flood meadows along the waterway are of the great significance for preservation of threatened species. However, the construction of the proposed waterway will likely affect several protected areas, including those with a Ramsar status. Like in Romania, construction work in protected areas is threatening various habitats and species.

Please also read: Romania destroys last free flowing river

Photo: Alexy Zajac

A pan-European corridor

The river Pripyat flood plains are a unique pan-European location of nesting and migrating swampland bird species, such as black-tailed godwits, aquatic warbler, Eurasian curlew and many others. Some of these areas even play a very important role in the European biodiversity strategy and are the so-called pan-European corridors. This includes the largest flyway across the Republic of Belarus, used annually by over 1,5 million migratory birds.

Potential irreversible damage

The project “Restoration of the E40 main waterway on the Dnieper-Vistula section: from strategy to planning ” determined the ‘best’ option for restoring the E40 waterway. However, the proposed restorations pose serious harmful environmental consequences. Governments and construction companies should avoid this and are in conflict with international Conventions and legal arrangements. The E40 restauration is a direct threat to specially protected natural areas of national and international significance. The conditions for a large number of migratory birds, rare and endangered species, rare biotopes and natural landscapes are at risk.

Radioactive pollution risks

Furthermore, the human impact on rivers will increase, including high risk of spreading radioactive contamination from Chernobyl. The danger is that dredging works can disturb river mud in territories with radiation pollution, like in the Polesia Radioecological Reserve in Belarus. Consequently, the contamination would go down the rivers of Pripyat and Dnieper to the Kiev reservoir, which could have severe consequences for the safety of drinking water supply in Ukraine.

The E40 restoration will thus not only negatively affect nature at a local level, but equally important on regional and even global level. Therefore, the European Wilderness Society fully supports the StopE40 campaign.

Photo: Alexy Zajac

International neglecting of consequences

The E40 is not the only river in Europe that is risking irreparable damages. In the so-called Blue Heart of Europe, the river systems in south-eastern Europe, governments planned 2 700 of hydropower plants. A dammed river has serious consequences for the plants and animals that depend on the river. Also in other countries, river constructions are damaging nature. In Romania the River Jiu is turned into a construction site. This way, Romania will stop it’s last free flowing river. 

Over 15 000 signatures

The international coalition of NGO Bahna, PA Achova Ptushak Backaushchyny, NGO Ecohome, Green Network, Green Network, Center for Environmental Solutions, Fund For Clean Pripyat, and NGO Time of the Earth initiated the StopE40 campaign in July 2017. The petition launched in August, and our letter of support was presented in October. The petition has now reached over 15 000 signatures, but it needs more.

Please sign the petition here and help to protect the valuable rivers. This post has been developed in cooperation with the international coalition.

Read our full Letter of Support below:

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One thought on “Support the Stop E40 campaign now

  1. In the Czech Republic, there is many yers lastnig battle against planned channel connecting rivers Dunaj (Black Sea), Odra (Baltic Sea) and Labe (North Sea). Similar consequences, although Czech nature is not in such natural state.

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Sign the Petition for resilient forests


90 signatures

Open Letter to the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture

Federal Ministry of
Food and Agriculture
Minister Julia Klöckner
11055 Berlin

Dear Minister Klöckner,

The current situation of the forest in Germany is worrying. It is a forest crisis not only driven by climate change. The current crisis management of the forestry industry is backward-looking and harmful to the forest. The declaration announced at the meeting of ministers in Moritzburg can be described as a `Moritzburg declaration of bankruptcy´. We call on the state forestry industry to, instead of expensive rushed actions, finally carry out an expert analysis of its own work and to involve all stakeholders in this process. What is called for is a consistent departure from plantation forestry and a radical shift towards a management that treats the forest as an ecosystem and no longer as a wood factory.

On 1stAugust 2019, five forestry ministers of CDU and CSU-led states adopted a so-called “master plan” for the forest in Germany, which was affected by heat, bark beetles, fire and drought. As of 2020, the federal government is to make 800 million euros available as a reaction to climate change. This money is to be used to repair the damage caused, reforest the damaged areas and carry out `climate-adapted´ forest conversion – including the use of non-native tree species that have not yet been cultivated in the forest. Research should therefore focus on on tree species suitability and forest plant breeding in the future – keyword: `Climate-adapted forest of the future 2100´.

Remarkably, the damage caused primarily by the extreme drought of 2018 is attributed solely to climate change. Climate change is meeting a forest that is systemically ill due to the planting of non-native tree species, species poverty, monocultures, uniform structure, average low age, mechanical soil compaction, drainage etc. A healthy, resistant forest would look differently! The master plan emphasizes: sustainable, multifunctional and `active´ forest management remains indispensable – and thereby means that its unnatural state cannot be changed. Reference is made to the `carbon storage and substitution effects´ of wood products. The use of wood, e.g. in the construction industry, should be increased and thus the demand for wood should be further fueled – while knowing that the forest in Germany already cannot meet this demand. In fact, forest owners are suffering from poor timber prices due to an oversupply of trunk wood on the world market.

All these demands make clear: the current forestry strategy, which has been practiced for decades, should not change in principle. The concept is simple: cut down trees – plant trees. At best, the `design´ of the future artificial forests consisting of perfectly calculated tree species mixtures, that are believed to survive climate change without damages, can be changed. In all seriousness, the intention is to continue selling the public a so-called `future strategy´ to save the forest. This strategy seamlessly follows the model of a wood factory, that is met with general rejection and must be regarded as a failure in view of the coniferous plantations that are currently collapsing on a large scale. An essential part of the forests that have currently died is exactly the part that was reestablished in 1947 as coniferous monocultures on a much larger area than today. There is only one difference to the situation at the time: considerable amounts of money are to be made available from taxes for forest owners this time.

Climate change is progressing, and this, without a doubt, has massive impacts on all terrestrial ecosystems, including forests. To pretend that the last two years of drought alone caused the disaster is too cheap. On closer inspection, the disaster is also the result of decades of a forestry focused on conifers – in a country that was once naturally dominated by mixed deciduous forests. People do not like to admit that for more than 200 years they have relied on the wrong species of commercial tree (spruce) and have also created artificial, ecologically highly unstable and thus high-risk forest ecosystems. A whole branch of business has become dependent on coniferous wood. And now the German coniferous timber industry is on the verge of bankruptcy.

It would only have been honest and also a sign of political greatness if you and the forestry ministers in Moritzburg had declared: Yes, our forestry industry has made mistakes in the past, and yes, we are ready for a relentless analysis that takes into account not only purely silvicultural, but also forest-ecological aspects. Instead, you have confined yourselves to pre-stamped excuses that are already familiar to everyone and that lack any self-critical reflection.

Clear is: We finally need resting periods for the forest in Germany, which has been exploited for centuries. We need a new, ecologically oriented concept for future forest – not a hectic `forest conversion´, but simply forest development closer towards nature. This gives the forest as an ecosystem the necessary leeway to self-regulate and react to the emerging environmental changes. We need a systemic forest management that is no less profitable than the present one, but must be substantially more stable and resistant to foreseeable environmental changes. The aid for forest owners that all citizens are now required to pay through their taxes is only politically justified in the interest of common good, if the forests of the future that are being promoted by it, do not end up in the next disaster, some of which is produced by the forest management itself.

That is why the signatories request from the the Federal Government, and in particular you, Mrs Klöckner, a master plan worthy of the name:

On disaster areas (mainly in public forests!) reestablishment through natural forest development (ecological succession), among other things with pioneer tree species, is to be brought about. In private forests, ecological succession for reestablishment must be purposefully promoted. Larger bare areas should be planted with a maximum of 400 to 600 large plants of native species per hectare in order to permit ecological succession parallelly.
To promote ecological succession, the areas should no longer be completely and mechanically cleared; as much wood as possible should be left in the stand (to promote optimum soil and germ bed formation, soil moisture storage and natural protection against browsing). In private forests, the abandonment of use in disaster areas should be specifically promoted for ecological reasons and in order to relieve the burden on the timber market.

Regarding the promotion of reestablishment plantings in private forests: priority for native tree species (of regional origin); choose wide planting distances in order to leave enough space for the development of pioneer species. For the forests of the future: Minimize thinning (low-input principle), build up stocks through targeted development towards old thick trees, protect the inner forest climate / promote self-cooling function (should have highest priority due to rapidly progressing climate change!), prohibit heavy machinery, refrain from further road construction and expansion, permit and promote natural self-regulatory development processes in the cultivated forest and on (larger) separate areas in the sense of an compound system; drastically reduce the density of ungulate game (reform of hunting laws).

Like in the field of organic agriculture, which has been established since the 1980s, the crisis of our forests should be the reason today to transform at least two existing forestry-related universities. They should be turned into universities for interdisciplinary forest ecosystem management. This is a contribution not only to the further development of forestry science and silviculture in Germany, but also of global importance! The goal must be to produce wood through largely natural forest production and to start with it here in Germany, the birthplace of forestry.


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