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Poland: Logging a threat to Europe's last primeval forest: activists

Source:  Copyright 2010, Agence France-Presse
Date:  August 4, 2010
Original URL: Status DEAD

Polish environmentalists on Wednesday warned deforestation was threatening flora and fauna in Europe's last first-growth woodland and said they had complained to the EU over logging practices.

"The current way of harvesting wood from the Bialowieza forest completely contradicts European Union requirements, particularly with regard to its Bird and Habitats directives," activist Krzysztof Okrasinski said, quoted by the Polish PAP news agency.

Activists insist logging is limiting habitat of certain rare birds.

A Polish forestry official however denied any logging for commercial purposes in Bialowieza, saying that only diseased or infested trees were being felled.

"Any lumber we get is from trees felled for ecological and protective reasons," Anna Malinowska, spokeswoman for Poland's state forestry board, said adding that without selective logging, infestations had spread on the Belarussian side of the woodland.

The vast Bialowieza forest, which covers some 140,000 hectares (345,000 acres) and spans the Polish-Belarussian border, is the final remnant of a massive woodland that covered Europe after the last Ice Age, which ended about 10,000 years ago.

About 800 European bison live there freely, with some 400 living on the Polish side. It is also home to rare bird species and lynx.

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