Monday

26th Jun 2017

Poland seeks support for logging in ancient forest

  • Szyszko said Poland would be happy to help spread European bison to other EU countries (Photo: Alexxx Malev)

The Polish government has opened an exhibition in the European Parliament to justify logging in the primeval Bialowieza forest.

"We want to save the forest from its false defenders, who would allow the forest to rot away before our eyes,” said Jadwiga Wisniewska, the MEP from the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party who organised the event.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Minister of environment, Jan Szyszko (Photo: BMUB/Sascha Hilgers)

Poland’s environment minister Jan Szyszko attended the event's opening on Wednesday (31 August).

Bialowieza - located on Poland’s eastern border with Belarus - is one of Europe’s last primeval forest. It is home to the European bison, the continent's largest mammal, and is protected by Unesco and Natura 2000, an EU conservation programme.

Now, conservationists say, it’s in danger.

The European Commission recently launched an inquiry into the Polish government’s plans to chop down a part of the forest, as this could breach its laws on habitats and birds.

But Szyszko said the extra logging is needed to save Bialowieza from a bark beetle outbreak, which he said was the real threat to the Polish forest.

”More than 4 million cubic meters of wood are rotting, depreciating, species are dying, habitats are lost,” the minister said.

”Meanwhile, the local population has nothing to heat their homes with, and must import dirty coal from Belarus.”

The plan is to increase logging in two thirds of the Polish part of the forest, while leaving one part to nature.

The consensus among scientists and green watchdogs is that the bark beetle outbreak is best dealt with by leaving the forest alone.

Some have also accused Szyszko - a former park warden and professor of forestry - of being too close to the logging industry.

On Wednesday, the minister said he regretted the ”huge misunderstanding” about how the forest should best be defended.

Anti-logging advocates "probably have huge hearts, but know little about ecology", he said.

He said Poland was ready to help other countries restore their habitats, both with expertise and financially.

Poland would, in particular, be happy to help spread the bison to other places where it could thrive.

The EU parliament exhibition was meant to show that Bialowieza has been subject to human intervention for more than 500 years.

Among the guests invited by PiS to speak at the event was Roman Catholic priest Tomasz Duszkiewicz, who cited the Bible as having said that men should “subdue” the earth.

He said the EU must base its decisions on the Biblical Ten Commandments otherwise it would "turn into dust".

Polish opposition party the Civic Platform said the exhibition had just highlighted how the PiS intended to ruin the forest.

"We are both surprised and happy about this exhibition,” centre-right MEP Janusz Lewandowski told Polish news agency PAP.

”Mr Szyszko is not seen as someone nurturing the Bialowieza forest, but rather as someone who risks destroying it with logging.”

The EU Commission is currently studying Poland’s replies to its questions on the logging plans.

An aide to Szyszko said the project had been frozen until the EU query was cleared up.

US leaves Paris climate deal

Trump said Paris deal “punishes the United States”, even though treaty leaves it up to nations to determine own climate contribution.

Column / Crude World

Nord Stream 2: The elephant in the room

The European Commission should provide a thorough impact assessment of Nord Stream 2, a project that appears to go against all of its Energy Union objectives.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  2. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  3. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  4. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  5. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  6. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  7. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  8. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  9. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  11. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  12. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move

Latest News

  1. Macron’s investment screening idea watered down by leaders
  2. Leaders unimpressed by May’s offer to EU citizens
  3. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits
  4. EU extends sanctions on Russia
  5. UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'
  6. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  7. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  8. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit