Europe’s Last Primeval Forest In Danger

Bialowieza Forest is an ancient woodland located in Poland and Belarus. It is the only remaining part of the immense forest which once spread across the European Plain. The forest is home to many species extinct elsewhere, for instance the world famous European Bison, the largest mammal living in the wild in Europe, lynx, wolves, wild boar and elk as well as other threatened wildlife and plants. Yet approximately 90% of the forest remains unprotected.

The Bialowieza Forest is a priceless relic of lowland European forests where we can still observe how European forest ecosystems functioned without human interference. There are a great number of species (both animal and plant) that Bialowieza can boast, including spruce as high as 55 meters, and oaks 40 meters high, which adds up to the biological diversity of the forest. The National Park, which takes up only a part of the ancient woodland, was included into the network of Biosphere Reserves by UNESCO in 1977 and in 1979 it was listed as a World Heritage Site, which in 1992 was enlarged by the strictly protected part of the Belarusian National park.

Its value and character are due to the very long protection as hunting grounds by the empires of East Europe, such as princes of Lithuania, kings of Poland or Tsars of Russia. It was only after the World War I that commercial logging on the large scale began. The UNESCO World Heritage Site protects only 10% of this unique area while the rest (the whopping 90%!) is being cut down for commercial use. The last 80 years of this abusive timber extraction have had a dramatic effect on the unprotected parts of the forests, resulting in less than 20% of old-growth that still prevails.

It would be a shame if such an amazing part of our environment was lost to the greed and exploitation of merely one generation. The future of the Bialowieza Primeval Forest lies in the hands of the Polish government, which has the money and power to stop the devastation of the forest and preserve it for the next generations.

If you want to put your two cents in it, go to this link and sign the petition posted at the bottom of the page. [http://www.ecoearth.info/alerts/send.asp?id=poland].

BOLA TANGKAS