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

Ask the Polish government to stop exploitation of the primeval Bialowieza Forest. Bialowieza Forest is on the verge of ultimate devastation caused by the state foresters and the timber industry that exploit precious Bialowieza Forest to manufacture products like furniture. Let’s support local calls for the cut to be reduced immediately, as a step to quickly ending primary forest logging in the area, and make all efforts possible to enlarge Bialowieski National Park to cover the entire area of Bialowieza Forest. EI has been active in campaign for over a decade, and things are getting active again locally as well, so time to renew the call of the Bialowieski Forest.

By Forests.org, a project of EcoInternet - August 10, 2010

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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 [more photos on facebook]. 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 83% 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. 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 17% 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. There has recently been a surge of local protest that John Seed and Rainforest Information Centre have been in communication with, drafting this alert with EI. Now is the last chance to save the natural character and ecosystems of Bialowieza Forest.

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Save Bialowieza Forest, Europe's Last Great Forest
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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