Białowieża Forest – minister Szyszko crossed the red line

Informacja prasowa - 23 maja, 2017
Logging in the Białowieża natural forest reached a new level, and now includes its oldest and most valuable tree stands. Polish minister of environment, Jan Szyszko, crossed the red line: he ignored both Polish and European laws, as well as Poland’s commitments to the UNESCO. Therefore environmental NGOs – Greenpeace Poland, WWF Poland, Wild Poland, Greenmind and Pracownia na rzecz Wszystkich Istot have started next phase of the campaign aiming at protecting Europe’s last lowland natural forest, including peaceful actions in the forest.

Dawid Kaźmierczak from Wild Poland: Forest patrols of Wild Poland and Greenpeace Poland provided evidence that logging in the Białowieża Forest increased. Patrols proved that logging has started in the oldest and most valuable parts of the forest which – because of their environmental value – were excluded from forestry works in the past. Big part of documented logging in the oldest stands cannot be justified by safety measures, as they were conducted away from roads and tourist routes. That means that minister Szyszko allowed devastation of natural parts of the forest for commercial purpose.

Przemysław Chylarecki, PhD, Greenmind: Jan Szyszko intentionally ignores Poland’s commitments to UNESCO. Logging is conducted in the parts of forest that should remain natural according to rules of the world heritage site: free from logging and plantings. Białowieża Forest was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list for its natural processes and exceptional biodiversity. Not only minister Szyszko’s decisions prevent effective protection of those values, they pose a threat to them.

Sylwia Szczutkowska, Pracownia na rzecz Wszystkich Istot: Logging in Białowieża Forest caused reaction of the European Commission, which gave Poland only one month, instead of customary two months, to stop breaching the EU law. Increased logging stands against the European law and minister Szyszko misleads the public opinion by saying it is different. As a consequence of his actions, Poland can end up in the Tribunal of Justice of the EU.

Dariusz Gatkowski, WWF Poland: Forest management practices, such as systematic logging and plantings, pose the biggest threat for the Białowieża Forest. They destroy natural renewal of the trees, heavy logging machines massacre forest floor and deprives protected species from their natural habitats. Precious bird species are their first victims: their broods are being destroyed or exposed to predators. Plantings promoted by Szyszko are as dangerous for the natural forest as logging and change this wild forest into a regular silviculture.

Robert Cyglicki, Greenpeace Poland: Minister Szyszko and his foresters devastate our natural jewel in the name of short-term benefits and they do it against Polish and international rules. They disturb birds in the breeding season, including three-toed woodpecker, one of the rarest woodpeckers in Poland. We will not remain indifferent. In protecting Białowieża Forest we act on behalf of over 167,000 people who want entire Białowieża Forest to become safe and protected as a national park.

Environmental NGOs will not allow destruction of the oldest and most valuable parts of the Białowieża Forest, where one can still find a real wilderness. Thus a new phase of the campaign starts. Activists are present in the forest to protect it from minister Szyszko and his acolytes.