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Artists appeal for end to logging in ancient Polish forest

PR dla Zagranicy
Victoria Bieniek 19.05.2017 08:59
Some 230 actors, authors and artists have appealed to the Polish prime minister and president to stop logging in the Białowieża forest.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Oliver HeroldPhoto: Wikimedia Commons/Oliver Herold

But a spokesman for the environment ministry said that all logging activities in the forest in north-eastern Poland aim to restore it to its former state.

A letter to President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Beata Szydło called for “intervention and the immediate cessation of the devastation of Poland's oldest forest”.

“We ask for the initiation of mediation in which the parties to the conflict will be able to develop a shared model for protection of the Białowieża forest,” the letter said.

The letter claims that a decision to cut down trees was a “closely guarded secret” and that hiking trails had been closed so there were no witnesses to the logging.

It adds that century-old trees were being cut down from the UNESCO heritage site.

But the environment ministry spokesman said that only diseased trees were being cut down and that some trails had been shut down because falling old and damaged trees posed a threat to visitors.

Among signatories to the letter were Polish authors Olga Tokarczuk and Marek Zagańczyk, German Nobel prize winner Herta Müller, Polish actors Adam Ferency and Jan Nowicki, director Jerzy Skolimowski, and historian Andrzej Friszke.

Last month, the European Commission announced it would step up procedures against Poland.

Procedures were initiated last June after a decision was taken in Poland in March to triple the country's harvest of timber and start logging in forests previously excluded from intervention, including Białowieża.

The Polish environment ministry said this was a necessary move in a fight against a plague of the European spruce bark beetle, which fed on the trees.

It also said that logging activities were aimed “only at returning [the forest] to its state from the past when it delighted with its majesty and beauty”.

But the European Commission said excessive logging contradicted protection measures, and at the same time would irreversibly affect biodiversity. (vb/pk)

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