1000s protest logging in Poland's ancient forest

2017-06-25 20:33
Protesters march in Warsaw, Poland, demanding a stop to massive logging in the Bialowieza forest. (Alik Keplicz, AP)

Protesters march in Warsaw, Poland, demanding a stop to massive logging in the Bialowieza forest. (Alik Keplicz, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Warsaw - Thousands demonstrated in Warsaw on Saturday demanding an end to large-scale logging in Poland's ancient Bialowieza forest, just days after the environment minister called for it to be stripped of protected Unesco status.

Bialowieza, straddling Poland's eastern border with Belarus, includes one of the largest surviving parts of the primeval forest that covered the European plain 10 000 years ago.

Poland's right-wing government began logging in May last year, saying it was clearing dead trees to contain damage caused by a spruce bark beetle infestation, and insisting the policy was entirely legal.

But scientists, ecologists and the EU protested the move in the Unesco World Heritage site and activists allege that it is being used as a cover for the commercial logging of protected old-growth forests.

"You just need to look at satellite photos to see how quickly Europe's last primeval forest is being transformed into a tree plantation. We want that to stop," Robert Cyglicki, the director of Greenpeace Polska, said Saturday as thousands of protesters marched through the heart of the Polish capital.

"I've come with, and for, my six-month-old son, to preserve Bialowieza for him, to stop this barbaric logging," Olga Matuszewska, a 37-year-old filmmaker, told AFP as she pushed a pram with her son, Stefan.

"We need trees for clean air; the lumber's not worth it - it's not worth turning everything into money."

'Final warning'

Activists began chaining themselves to logging equipment in Bialowieza in May in a bid to halt the mass felling of trees.

In late April, the European Commission gave Polish authorities a "final warning" to address its concerns about the forest or face being summoned by the EU's top court.

The EU is also concerned the logging will cause irreparable loss of biodiversity in the woodland that belongs to the EU's Natura 2000 network of protected areas.

Unesco has also expressed concern over the logging.

Bialowieza boasts unique plant and animal life, including the continent's largest mammal, the European bison.

But Poland's Environment Minister Jan Szyszko on Wednesday called for Bialowieza to be stripped of Unesco's natural heritage status, which bans any human intervention.

Insisting that Bialowieza was "granted Unesco natural heritage status illegally", Szyszko also said that "a complaint had been lodged with the prosecutor's office" regarding the matter.

The forest gained the coveted "natural heritage" label in 2011.

Szyszko also backed a separate law passed in January allowing homeowners to cut down trees on their property without requesting permission.

As many as three million trees could have been felled across Poland under the new law Zbigniew Karaczun, a researcher at Warsaw University of Life Sciences, told the Saturday edition of the liberal Gazeta Wyborcza daily.

Read more on:    unesco  |  poland  |  plants

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/World
 

For the love of Corgis!

WATCH: 35 Corgi's to make your day! If they’re good enough for the Queen of England they’re good enough for us.

 
 

Paws

Can we communicate with our pets?
8 great natural remedies for your pet
Buying a puppy? Don’t get scammed!
WATCH: These funny animal videos will make you LOL!
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.