Thursday

9th Feb 2023

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • 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.

Opinion

The return of Lula means now is the time for EU-Mercosur deal

The EU must realise the need for a trade agreement with Mercosur. The timing has never been better. The recent election of the president of Brazil, Lula da Silva, marks a fresh start to move forward on the Mercosur Agreement.

Latest News

  1. EU leaders attempt to hash out response to US green subsidies
  2. Russian diplomats in EU: unpaid wages, low morale
  3. Eight EU states press for more Turkey-style migrant swap deals
  4. EU buries head deeper in sand over Israel's apartheid
  5. Polish MEP also went on freelance Azerbaijan trip
  6. Why Europe's interminable compromises are a virtue
  7. Wales' message to Europe: 'We'll be back'
  8. MEPs to vote on risky 'hydrogen for home heating' rule

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWWEU Social Dialogue review – publication of the European Commission package and joint statement of ETUFs
  2. Oxfam InternationalPan Africa Program Progress Report 2022 - Post Covid and Beyond
  3. WWFWWF Living Planet Report
  4. EFBWWEFBWW Executive Committee report on major abuses, labour crime and subcontracting
  5. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  6. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us