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Help Preserve and Restore Bialowieza Forest

by Jerzy Dyczkowski


UPDATE 29 August 2003: Loggers rip into Poland's wild forest. By Sophie Arie. The Guardian.


Bialowieza Forest (Puszcza Bialowieska) in Poland is threatened by logging. The National Park protects only 18% of the forest. The rest is open to forest operations.

The Minister of Environment in Poland has recently signed the most needed decision about extending the National Park, which would cover the whole area of the forest. However, the project requires the acceptance of the Polish Government. The foresters and local people lobbied by them are a pressure group that demands suspending the protection project until undefined future.

The goal is to issue a complete logging ban immediately and to make the whole of Bialowieza Forest a national park. Some temporary decisions were made, which were cancelled soon after the public campaign had stopped. Only as the national park covering the entire area can Bialowieza Forest be protected permanently. The proposed national park would be open for local citizens.

The Polish Society for Protection of Birds (OTOP) asks that letters be sent to the media and to the Polish Government, developing people's awareness of the situation and supporting the protection of Bialowieza Forest.  Below is an
example of the petition to Prime Minister of Poland, Jerzy Buzek. Please, persist in your effort until the whole area of Bialowieza Forest is protected as a national park!

More details about Bialowieza and its protection can be obtained from OTOP:

Ogolnopolskie Towarzystwo Ochrony Ptakow,
skr. 335, 89 958 Gdansk 50,
tel./fax (22) 58 341 26 93,
E-mail: office@otop.most.org.pl


Jerzy Dyczkowski Birding Pages


PETITION:

Prof. Jerzy Buzek
The Prime Minister of Poland
AL. Ujazdowskie 1/3,
00 583 Warszawa
Poland
Fax: 0 22 628 68 46
E-mail: premier@kprm.gov.pl

THE PROTECTION OF BIALOWIEZA FOREST

Dear Prime Minister,

I would like to express my concern about the situation of the last piece of primeval forests remaining in Europe - Bialowieza Forest (Puszcza Bialowieska). Because of its biodiversity, Bialowieza Forest represents unique value on a world scale. The area of the primeval forest that has survived up to now is a refuge for many rare species of plants and animals.

This is also an internationally important area of bird protection.
Bialowieza Forest is one of few places where ecological and evolutionary processes that have been taking place for millions of years have not yet been stopped.
The area of such exceptional importance, being the World Heritage Site, deserves the highest form of protection - as a national park.

In the light of the above facts, continuing the tree logging in over 80% of the forest area and treating the last parts of ancient forests as a source of timber is one of the most environmentally destructive enterprises in Europe. Such actions have a negative effect on the international reputation of Poland.

As a European citizen concerned with preservation of the common natural heritage I DEMAND FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF POLAND:

1. SIGNING THE DECISION OF AN  IMMEDIATE AND COMPLETE PROHIBITION OF THE TREE CUTTING IN BIALOWIEZA FOREST.

2. APPROVING OF THE PROTECTION OF THE WHOLE OF BIALOWIEZA FOREST AS A NATIONAL PARK.

[JWW comment: Poland is the top birding country in northern Europe, and Bialowieza [pronounced "Bee-ah'-woh-vee-a'-sha"] Forest is the premiere birding site in Poland. Bialowieza Forest is a truly remarkable remnant of the great forests that once covered most of Europe. The core of Bialowieza is the only substantial forest block south of Scandinavia that never has been logged. Not surprisingly, it is the best remaining site for the endangered White-backed Woodpecker. Other uncommon to rare species, such as Pygmy Owl, Tenglmalm's (Boreal) Owl, Hazel Grouse and Three-toed Woodpecker are fairly common there.

Bialowieza is the most important stronghold of the European Bison. A Brown Bear reintroduction scheme was tried and abandoned in the 1930s due to insufficient remaining habitat. Perhaps with reforestation and an educational campaign bears could be successfully reintroduced.

Unfortunately, most of the forest is not protected and is logged on short rotation. The primary forest birds need a larger contiguous area of undisturbed forest. Capercaillie is either very rare or locally extinct. If logging were curtailed, a Capercaillie reintroduction program might become a possibility.

Furthermore, tourism to the small patch of never-logged forest that is open to the public is overly intense. When Karl Overman and I visited in May, 1997, there were hundreds of people on the trail, but with a bit of dodging we still saw four territorial Red-breasted Flycatchers plus Three-toed and Black Woodpeckers in the area of dense visitation. (During our first two hours in Bialowieza, on the famous boardwalk trail, we saw White-backed Woodpecker and a Hazelhen with chicks. Pygmy Owl nested in a woodpecker hole visible from the boardwalk last year.)

Thus, I encourage readers to let the Polish authorities know about your interest in preserving and restoring Bialowieza Forest. And if you haven't been to Poland yet, the birding is excellent, from the staked out Ural Owls in the far southeast to the Great Snipe and Aquatic Warblers in the Biebrza Marshes, with Bialowieza and the Siemianowka Reservoir in between.

Bill Oddie's BBC website on birding in Poland.

PAN Parks Online]


Copyright © 1992-2012 John Wall