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Action Alert: Save Bialowieza Forest, Europe's Last Primeval Temperate Forest

Ask the Polish government to stop exploitation of the ancient Bialowieza forest, preserve the whole complex as a national park, and end permanently extensive logging that threatens Europe's last remnant old-growth northern temperate forests

By, a project of Ecological Internet - January 6, 2008

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Additional Background

Situated on the Polish/Belarussian border, the Bialowieza Forest is a priceless relic of lowland European forests, a place where the last fragments of primeval temperate old-growth forest on the Central European lowland have survived. It is home to many species extinct elsewhere including the European Bison, the largest terrestrial mammal of Europe; and also contains lynx, wolves and other threatened wildlife and plants. Yet approximately 90% of the forest remains unprotected.

This ancient forest cathedral is an unparalleled living museum, offering Europe and the world a window into the past. In Bialowieza, we can still observe how European temperate forest ecosystems functioned without human interference. The forest's huge old trees -- with spruce as tall as 55 meters, and oaks 40 meters tall -- inspire all generations. If humanity deserves our scientific name of sapiens (reasonable) man, preservation of these unique qualities for the future should be an issue of the highest priority. This vital part of European and global historical/cultural heritage must not be lost, so we campaign yet again on the issue.

The forest had been protected as a royal hunting ground for centuries, and it was only after World War I that large-scale commercial logging began. The Bialowieza National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, yet protects only about 10% of the area, while commercial cutting continues in the rest. These 80 years of exploitative timber extraction have had a dramatic effect on the unprotected forests, as the share of old-growth stands has dropped to less than 20%. There is no justifiable explanation for ravaging this invaluable fragment of wilderness for the interest of just one generation. All ancient, primary forest stands will soon be gone, and the last European primeval forest will be only history.

The future of Bialowieza Forest lies in the hands of the Polish government which has the legal and financial means to arrest the devastation and to preserve the forest for the future. For many years environmental NGOs, scientists, concerned citizens in Poland and abroad have asked successive Polish governments to protect the forest, asking them to ban cutting of old growth and for enlargement of the Bialowieza National Park to protect the whole forest complex. Until now there has been little success. After the autumn elections Poland has a new government, so Ecological Internet is trying anew. Please help influence Polish politicians by sending the protest email below.


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Save Bialowieza Forest, Europe's Last Primeval Tem
If Europe's can't or won't protect Bialowieza Forest -- their last primeval temperate forest -- no one can; and all the world's forests, climate and biosphere are doomed  (link)

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