Target: Jan Szyszko, Polish Environment Minister
Goal: Preserve Europe’s last primeval forest from logging.
The last unspoiled forest in Europe is in terrible danger. Poland’s Bialowieza forest is a vast expanse of virgin forest, largely untouched since the last ice age, IFLScience reports. It is the last surviving example of the primeval European landscape and an ecosystem supporting over 62 species of mammals; many of them rare and endangered. Poland has announced that it plans to clear 6.4 million cubic feet of this historic forest.
The Polish government’s plan jeopardizes the cultural heritage of the world and endangers many of the animals that call the forest home. Officials have cited a seemingly compelling, but profoundly bizarre, pretext for clearing Bialowieza. The government claims that it needs to destroy Bialowieza in order to save it. According to IFLScience, Poland’s environment minister claims that clearing the forest is part of a plan to combat a spruce beetle infestation. Conservation organizations like Greenpeace deride those claims, noting that many scientific bodies have concluded that “the bark beetle outbreak will die down naturally in the next two years.”
Instead of clearing untouched forests, the Polish government should take a more rational approach to mitigating damage from pest insects. Urge the Polish government to listen to its own Academy of Science and leave Bialowieza intact for generations to come.
Dear Minister Jan Szyszko,
You recently announced plans to clear vast swaths of Europe’s last virgin forest. The new guidelines that you released call for logging 6.4 million cubic feet of forest, more than four times the amount of harvesting previously allowed. That plan jeopardizes an important and irretrievable world heritage site, as well as the many animals that call the forest home.
In a strange twist, you have touted the same plan that threatens one of the world’s great ecological treasures as an effort to save it. You stated that the Polish government was “acting to curb the degradation of important habitats, to curb the disappearance and migration of important species from this site” by removing trees infested by bark beetles. However, many scientific bodies question whether the beetles pose a real threat to the forest, and, as IFLScience reports, “the rotting dead wood produced as the trees die is critical for the forest’s survival, and one of the key elements that make the region so special and able to support so many species.” Your plan for managing Europe’s last unspoiled forest actually threatens the mechanism responsible for its health.
We urge you reevaluate your duty of environmental stewardship in light of scientific opinion. We urge you to prevent logging in Europe’s last primeval forest.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Herr stahlhoefer